Storybook Sculptures

Abilene, Texas, calls itself Storybook Capital of the World.  Scattered around the downtown area are sculptures of characters from children’s books as well as various other sculptures.

I’m starting with my least favorite:  Dino Bob from the book Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo.

Never heard of this book.

The Man in the Moon is represented by a moon up on a tall pole.

Also, unknown to me.  Don’t give up.  It gets better.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King stands outside the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature building.

Everman Park, beside the renovated train depot, contains the Dr. Seuss Sculptures.  A nice job of landscaping this area uses hardy Texas plants, like the New Gold Lantana in the picture.  This lantana is a hybrid and makes a 6 to 8 foot ground cover.

Although this isn’t Dr. Seuss, it’s at the park entrance.  Santa Calls sculpture depicts three children who travel to the North Pole.  Santa sent a flying machine called Yuletide Flyer.The beloved Cat in the Hat turns a rainy day into unexpected fun for children.

Some  small Magnolia trees had blossoms.  It’s unusual to see Magnolias in Central Texas, but this is probably a Little Gem Magnolia, which is a late bloomer, smaller than most Magnolias, and survives in zones 5 – 9.

The Lorax speaks for the trees and warns of the dangers of disrespecting the environment.

Yurtle the Turtle, who claims to be the king of the pond, climbs on his subjects in an attempt to reach higher than the moon.  A good message to us all not to feel more important than others.

In spite of derogatory remarks in the news recently about Dr. Seuss, I think he had an important role.  He got many kids interested in reading and learning and did it in an extremely fun way.

The Grinch tries to sabotage Christmas in Whoville.

Another small Magnolia surrounded by Knockout Roses, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), and a Boxwood hedge.  The roses may be Drift Roses, which are a type of Knockouts.

Russian Sage is a good choice for arid areas.  It has a lovely scent and is hardy.  It does spread, so these will become overcrowded at some point.

Sam, I am, encourages everyone to try Green Eggs and Ham.

In the second book to feature Horton, Horton Hears a Who, he once again becomes the protector of a helpless creature.  A small piece of dust that talks to Horton asks for help.  Even though he is ridiculed and harassed by the other animals, Horton states that “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“The more you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. SeussSave

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San Antonio Gardens, Part II

The hot summers and mild winters of San Antonio make it possible to grow tropical plants there.

sanaI fell in love with the Potterweeds (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis).  This is a red one.  It is supposed to be drought tolerant and grow like a weed.

sana1While standing in front of this bush for several minutes, I saw several different kinds of butterflies.  I think the one on the left is a Gulf Fritillary and the one on the right, a Common Mestra

sana3This Angelonia or Summer Snapdragon (Angelonia angustifolia) is an annual with upright flower spikes that resemble miniature snapdragons.

Only Angelonia from the Serena series can be grown from seed.

sana4Don’t recognize this plant.

sana5Bat-faced Cuphea (Cuphea llavea) gets it name from the dark area on the tip of the flower.  It takes a good imagination to see a bat face there.sanaccI tried to get a picture that would show the face, but I don’t see it.

They are native to Mexico and Central America and are only perennials in zone 10 and higher.sana6In this part of the garden, there are four square beds that form a large square with walkways in between.  Each square has the large tropical plant that probably stands 8 or 9 feet tall with shorter flowering bushes surrounding it.  The tall plants look like giant cannas, but they are probably something more exotic.  And none of them had flowers.

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sana7This Blue Potterweed has a Praying Mantis posing for a picture.

sana8Tall trees provide nice shady nooks.  The lady in red is one of several volunteer Master Gardeners working in the gardens that morning.

sana9Our group is observing huge Crape Myrtles and listening to the extension agent provide information.

sanajEasy to recognize Lantana is a good old reliable in Texas.  This particular one might be ‘Dallas Red’.

The unusual butterfly is an Orange Skipperling.

sanajjHardy Hibiscus do well in our area, also.

sanajjjWish I knew the name – no label.  In the Shrimp Plant family?

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sanakkkYellow Jabobinia or Brazilian Plume (Justicia aurea) grows in light to full shade in zones 8b and higher.

sanalFrustrating when botanical gardens don’t have everything labeled.

sanallVariegated Tapioca (Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’) is an annual except in zone 11 and further south.

sanalllIt is a non-bloomer that loves heat and the sun.

sanamLike the light play through the Elephant Ears, which are native to Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

sanammsanammmThe horticulturist at this botanical gardens must also love Potterweed, since they use it so much.  Here it is with Potato Vine.

A visit to a lush tropical garden is a treat.  Even though it doesn’t translate into useful information for my garden, it’s fun to see what other parts of the world grow.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

Garden of Eden

Recently I visited a garden in Eden, Texas, with a gardening class. Eden is between Brady and San Angelo and has a population of just over 93,000.  That fact is a total surprise because we only made this one stop and drove on through it.  I thought it was probably smaller than that.

Here is a description of the town from their website:
“Founded in 1882, Eden is located at the intersection of US Hwy 87 & 83 where the Texas Hill Country and the rolling farmland of the southeastern extremes of the Permian Basin merge.

Eden is a scenic transition of cattle, sheep, and goat country, cotton fields, forage crops, oil and gas wells and some of the best hunting to be found in Texas.”

gardenofedenThis public garden used to be an abandoned lot that attracted drug dealers.

gardenofeden2A few people proposed the idea of a garden.  One man made it happen and continues to maintain it, mostly alone.

gardenofeden7He is a landscaper, and his skills show in the garden.  This rustic water feature used a cattle water trough, rocks, posts, and an old milk can.

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gardenofeden4Very clever.

gardenofeden5It was a surprise to see Moon Flower there.  I don’t see it in many gardens.

gardenofeden6They are considered night bloomers.  I think this one is in the Datura species.

gardenofeden8The sun makes this grass pop.

gardenofeden9This Asparagus plant was new to me.  Makes me want to try it.

gardenofedenaThis gardener used lots of the same flowers scattered throughout the area.  He also wisely used reliable plants.  This is Esperanza (Tecoma stans).

gardenofedenbSurprises around every corner.

gardenofedendLantanas do extremely well in dry hot areas.  This New Gold Lantana (Lantana x hybrida ‘New Gold’) is an example of the spreading branches of Lantanas.

gardenofedencHis use of native stones enhanced the garden.  Especially liked the benches near the walkways.

gardenofedenfA migrating Monarch butterfly enjoying Lil Miss Lantana.

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gardenofedenkNative wild Morning Glories.  They can be seen on barbed wire fences all across the central part of Texas.

gardenofedenlA nice job of mixing cacti and agaves with other plants.

gardenofedennAnother technique used was the placement of plants with the same colors together to create a large sweep of color.

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gardenofedenpDuranta (Duranta erecta) is one of my favorite bushes.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.  For a better one, see other posts.

gardenofedenqCross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) is a popular vine that grows to massive sizes.  I’m not sure what the plan is for this one’s future – maybe to allow it to cover that rock structure.

gardenofedenrThe achievement of lush looking plantings can be difficult using our native plants.  But it’s possible by filling in with softer plants like this Dusty Miller or Artemesia.

gardenofedensThe garden is on the highway, but it’s winding paths through tall bushes allows one to feel lost in a secretive place.

gardenofedentBlue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnei) is also known as Paraguay Nightshade.  It’s an evergreen that blooms repeatedly.

gardenofedenuThe flowers resemble those of Mexican Petunias.

gardenofedenvA walk though arch was covered with this Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).  The vine itself looked pretty sad, but a few flowers still showed their stuff.

gardenofedenxThe shadows of these cacti create more interest than if they had been planted in the middle of other plants.

An impressive garden, especially since it’s the work of one man who works as a volunteer and in his spare time.  Sometimes the people in a community aren’t aware of the gift of time by some of their citizens.  Thanks to volunteers everywhere.

“When we stand back to consider the premise – that God owes us a good life – it is clearly unwarranted. If there really is an infinitely glorious God, why should the universe revolve around us rather than around him?”        Tim Keller

Autumn Blooms

It happens every October or November.  A few colder days makes us actually believe that summer is over.  It never is.  But the cooler temperatures have given new life to plants that have endured the summer furnace.  Cooler here means in the high eighties with lows in the fifties at night.  But we’ve had a few nights in the low thirties.  Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus wrightii) or Hummingbird Bush is a shrub that attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.  This one was bought at the spring plant sale at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflowers Center in Austin.  It’s hardy and does well in full sun, blooms in the summer and fall.  It does need average regular water.Although Lil Miss BiColor Lantana isn’t the orange and yellow flowered Texas Lantana growing wild in the fields, it does well here, grows fast and takes over a large space.  Its branches arch out about five feet.  Lantanas are deer resistant, so they are very popular here.

This one came from a stray shoot growing in my mother’s yard in West Texas.  This particular kind of lantana can take over a space.  But occasionally, I just lop off any unwanted long branches.

The Blackfoot Daisies (Melampodium leucanthum) are still going strong.  They are a Texas native that love full sun and are a great border plant because they don’t grow taller than a foot.  Blackfoot Daisies bloom all summer and into November.

This New Gold Lantana (lantana x hybrida) has spread out about eight feet and continues to be covered in blossoms.  It has survived for five years and is great here because it tolerates our sun and heat and blooms constantly from spring until a freeze.  New Gold Lantana is on the Texas Super Star list, which means it is one tough cookie that survives our extreme soils and climate.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) or Texas Mallow is on the left.  A small part of a Autumn Sage or Salvia or (Salvia greggii Gray)  is in the lower right of the picture.  Both are favorites in Texas gardens because they perform so well.  They both grow in a variety of soils all over Texas.  The branches  of Turk’s Cap grow upright but tend to lean.  The red flowers have swirls with red stamens sticking out the top.  I don’t see that it looks like a fez, but that’s where the name came from.

Turk’s Cap grows in shade or sun but does better in the shade.  In the sun, sometimes it gets mildew, although I haven’t experienced that.  It has dense, deep roots, so it doesn’t transplant very easily.

Autumn Sage is also known as Cherry Sage or Gregg Salvia.  It is in the mint family and has a minty scent when brushed against.  It is native to the US and is a work horse in gardens across Texas.  It is a 2-3 ft. tall shrub that blooms from spring to frost and is drought tolerant.

I’m thankful for Texas native plants and for those that have adapted well to living here.  I love plants that flower and endure the heat.

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-.George Bernard Shaw