Wildflowers and Memories

My last post showed gorgeous Texas wildflowers in a cemetery.  As Paul Harvey used to say, here’s the rest of the story.

Past the thick patch of Indian Paintbrushes and some scattered White Prickly Poppies is the entrance into the Sutherland Springs cemetery.  That name may not conjure up any memories for you, but it is a sharp reminder of a tragedy that shattered this small community.

A lone gunman filled with hate and revenge stepped into this small church and took the lives of 26 innocent people.

Rather then walk into another church service in this building, the members turned it into a memorial for family and friends.  Instead, they rented a temporary building for services.  At the present time, a new stone building is nearing completion where they won’t be reminded of that day as they gather for worship.

Markers and mementos to honor the dead are placed all around the classic white chapel building with its idyllic steeple.  Some families were almost decimated that day.

This town is close to San Antonio, where the whole surrounding area has groves of these Huisache trees (Vachellia farnesiana).  They are considered nuisance trees by some people, like Mesquites in the upper Central Texas and, especially, West Texas.

Huisache is often one of the first trees to invade abandoned fields.  The most noticeable characteristics are their fragrant yellow puff blooms and their fern-like foliage.  They have white thorns, which are more noticeable on a young tree.  Huisaches require full sun and little water after they are established.Being in lower Central Texas, the area has mild winters with rare freezes, which is ideal for many wildflowers and some tropical plants.  It’s one of the more garden spots in the state.

As we focus on the natural beauty, we know that God is in control of the earth and the healing of this community.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;”  Psalm 13:5

No matter what the circumstances, we can trust the heart of God.

Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets

The wildflowers have arrived and are spectacular this year.  Decorating the highways, they add a sense of wonder to driving.

But one of the best places to enjoy wildflowers is a rural cemetery.  You don’t have to worry about getting run down when you step out of the car.  It’s also so peaceful and quiet.

Indian Paintbrushes (Castilleja) bloom a little earlier than Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) but they remain side by side for many days.  There are actually several different varieties of both Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets.

Wildflowers are not known for their scent, but a wonderful aroma surrounded us when we stepped out of the vehicle.  Wasn’t able to determine which ones provided the smell.

The older headstones were fascinating.

Think these are Prairie Phlox (Phlox pilosa).  Little clusters were scattered here and there.

The scenery around the cemetery was serene.

Pink was the dominant color here.

White Prickly Poppies form large colonies that are visible from a distance.

The wind was so strong, their delicate petals were brown in one direction.

In front of this handmade headstone is a weed I couldn’t identify.  All the weeds were lovely in this setting because none were prickly and seemed at home.

Dotted Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchiurn pruinosuem) makes me wonder how it got that common name.  The eye is yellow, so it’s doesn’t seem logical.

Found some headstones with my maiden name.  Have no idea if they were related to me.

Notice the fake flowers beside the marker.  That’s very common in Texas because most of the year, there are no native flowers or even foliage in the long hot summers.

I was curious what this growth on the stone is.  Some kind of fungus but this was the only stone I saw it on.

There are a number of low growing native white daisies or asters.  Don’t know which one this is.

A thick carpet is formed by this unknown native.  It’s definitely not a plant for your yard unless you intentionally want a covering of this instead of grass.  It spreads by runners and seems prolific.

 “Do you love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” Benjamin Franklin

Flash in the Pan

Warm weather has awakened some plants with flowers and tree bud openings.

This unknown woody plant pops up each year in a flowerbed.  I don’t know what it is nor how it got here.  I don’t remember planting it, but I certainly could have.

Each year I cut it back to the ground after blooming because it is too close to a more desirable bush.  The roots are entangled with other bushes, so that’s my solution.

In a field near the house, I noticed this in full bloom.  At first, it looked like Bee Bush, but close up, the flowers didn’t look right.

Rather than a bush, it appears to be a colony of one trunk small trees.

Pretty, but fleeting, the blooms only lasted for a few days.  The bees enjoyed a feast for those few days.

In the fields. tiny flowers are not noticeable unless one looks down.

This is probably Ten-petal Anemone (Anemone berlandieri).  Its name commemorates  Juis Berlandier from Belgium.  He traveled Texas in the mid 1800s and created one of the earliest and most extensive collections of native plants.

A few Rain Lilies from the last rain don’t draw attention to themselves.  They are sweet little surprises.

In the yard, clusters of buds appear on a Rusty Blackhaw Verburnum (Viburnum rufidulum).  It’s an East Texas plant that grows along rivers.  I defied reason and wanted to prove that it can be grown here.  It’s an under story tree or bush.

So, yes, it has lived for about six years here in the wrong soil and circumstances, but it hasn’t produced the blue berries in the fall.  By the end of our hot summer, it’s gasping and looking incredible sad.

This shot in the rising sunlight shows the individual cute little flowers, which won’t be around in a few days.

With these flash-in-a-pan flowers that have a limited lifespan, it reminds me to enjoy every moment as it comes.

“Life is dessert – too brief to hurry.”  Ann Voskamp

Waiting for Spring

So close, but not quite yet.  Warm days feel like spring is here, but are followed by colder days that remind us to be patient.

An early morning drive gives a full view of the rising sun in all its glory.

That big yellow ball of fire makes a spectacular appearance.

As I eagerly await flowers blooming in my yard, I’m reminded that it’s okay to just go buy some flowers.  Or just enjoy ones given to you or gift someone with a gorgeous bouquet.

Carnations have never been a favorite of mine.  But the new lush colors have made them a great choice for arrangements.

But nothing beats a rose for cut flowers.  Although these commercial ones have no scent because they were bred to have tall, strong stems and many petals.  Still beautiful.

Yeah.  Roses speak of love and delicate creations.That early morning drive took us to a garden meeting.  A woman from the Hubbard area, where we were, is a true farm woman, and it sounded like her family is pretty self sustaining.  She raises seven and a half (she’s expecting) children, lots of goats, chickens, and cows.

She was at the meeting to give a short talk and sell her products.  The usual goat products of soaps and lotions as well as some creams for pain and other products were available.

But the highlight of the meeting was the baby kid.  In fact, the whole meeting was disrupted as people jumped up with their phones to get pictures.  At least, I was polite enough to wait until the end of the meeting.  Okay, that’s patting my own back.

Meanwhile, in our backyard, the Cherry Laurel is covered with blossoms.  Another encouraging sign that the arrival of spring isn’t far away – at least here.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”   Margaret Atwood

Heirloom Bulbs

After many warm days, a hard freeze descended with vengeance.  Sharp winds cut through skin and clothes.

Thoughts of spring continue to fill my mind.  Gardening books help me to be patience for warm days.

I bought this book several years ago when I heard Chris Wiesinger speak.  It’s a large coffee table book but also provides history about certain bulbs and growing information.

There are botanical drawings as well as photographs of each type of bulb.  I’m not sure that this sketch accurately indicates the size of Crinum bulbs.  They are huge and sometimes difficult to dig up without cutting into them.

This is one of the Crinums (‘Ellen Bosanquet’) in my yard.  As I remember it, I purchased my first one when I bought this book.  Crinums are old south bulbs and don’t do well above the Mason-Dixie line.

Red Spider Lilies (Lycorius radiata) are usually planted in masses and pop right out of the landscape.  They’re popular in Texas, so I can’t understand why I haven’t had much luck with them.

I planted Naked Lady or Magic Lily (Lycoris squamigera) two years ago, and it has done well.  The Naked Lady name comes from the fact that the foliage comes up in the winter and stays around until February to April.  Then it dies down.  In mid-summer, the flower stalk shoots up and blooms with no foliage.

The delicate flowers are a welcome summer sight.

Rain Lilies pop up after a rain.  In the fields around our yard, they’re a special treat.  They last a few days and disappear.  How they came to be there is a mystery.

A little history about the author.  After graduating from Texas A & M, he received permission to use some land for growing bulbs to sell.  He traveled the south to find bulbs to dig up and plant on this property.  He encountered many older Southern belles and listened to their stories, many of which are in this book.Some of my favorite bulbs include Ditch Daylilies, considered common and unworthy by some.  But each year I look forward to their early arrival and classic beauty.

Kindly Light Daylight’s form and color are fascinating.  Even though each flower only lasts a day, there are lots of buds on each plant.  So they bloom for many days.

Crimson Pirate Daylily serves as a nice contrast when planted near Kindly Light Daylily.

Irises grab my heart.  I started out with old-fashioned ones planted in a field near the house.  They do well with the water furnished by nature.  Of course, there are more blooms some years than others.  One positive about bulbs is they will last for years and years in the ground unless some animal digs them up.

Then I discovered re-blooming irises.  Now I have many different colors.

Re-bloomers often have multiple petals with more than one color and deeper colors.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t want bulbs because bulbs multiply.  How crazy is that.?  Sure, the bulbs must be dug up and separated.  But that’s not necessary for several years.  To me, that means free flowers to spread around your yard and to share with others.

“How lovely the silence of growing things.”  unknown

Hints of Spring

It’s starting to warm up and green up.  Of course, it’s likely we’ll have a surprise freeze.  But I’m glad spring’s coming.

Daffodils have been blooming for a while.

I’ve considered buying some other varieties with stronger color, but the bloom season is so short that it doesn’t seem worth it.

Each year a new weed is added to the mix.  This particular one – I don’t know what it is – is mighty prolific.

Texas Flowering Quince has been blooming for about a month.  Most of the flowers are on the lower branches.  You can see that abundant weed under the branches.  The thorns make it hard to clean out around the long branches.

A few Hollyhocks are up and leafed out.  A few years ago the Hollyhocks had rust disease.  I thought I dug them all up.  But here they are.

Some Hyacinths are blooming.  They’re so short that sometimes I don’t notice them.

Beautiful small hints of a new season.  Love the shapes of the bell-like flowers.

We started pruning last month but so much more to do.  Really enjoying the sunny days when it’s not too cold or windy to work outside.  The task I always dread is the weeding.  Guess everyone does.

“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.”                               Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661, English preacher, historian, and author

Austin Roses

It’s rose planting time.  At least, it is in my neck of the woods.  The reason I know that is because I received a handbook from David Austin Roses.

I don’t know how many of their roses you need to buy to receive this book. Two years I bought three roses.  The book came as a delightful surprise.

This book has all of the roses the David Austin company has on the market.  He died last year, but his son is continuing the business.

The book also includes some roses that other people hybridized.  Notice the breeder on each of these roses.

Scattered throughout the book is lots of helpful information for rose growers.  Pretty much what you need to know about growing roses is in this book.  Pictures of inserting them into your landscape shows different uses for roses.

One of my very favorite David Austin Roses is Lady of Shalott.  The color and smell is alluring.  Plus, it is very hardy here in my alkaline soil.  Of course, I do amend the soil; but still, it has to endure extreme heat and strong sun.

The Lady Gardener is another beauty, although it hasn’t performed as well as Lady of Shalott here.

Ainwick is another one in my yard.  Most of David Austin’s roses have a distinctive form.  Bowl shaped with petals packed in the center.  Also, the petal count is extremely high.

Thomas à Becket has been a heavy bloomer for me.  The color is elusive.  It isn’t a true red but definitely eye catching.  Not only is it a repeat bloomer, but it has a ton of roses at a time.

This book has me salivating for springtime and roses scenting the air.  Of course, it also encouraged me to buy a couple more bushes.  That was the purpose, I’m sure.

“A rose is an argument.  It proclaims the triumph of beauty over brutality, of gentleness over violence, of the ephemeral over the lasting, and of the universal over the particular.”  Alain Meilland

Warmer in Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is a tourist town south of us where it hardly ever freezes.  It’s easy for us to pop in for a day there.

On Main Street where many small shops draw visitors, planters enhance the view along the sidewalks.

This one has brightly colored pansies and ornamental cabbages.

I’ve often wondered who is responsible for the upkeep of the planters – the shopkeepers or the city.

Note the tractor seats used as sitting spots for weary shoppers.

This one really intrigued me.  It’s a man laying in a bathtub.  So clever.

Just love the work of creative people.

Nimitz Museum, Fredericksburg, Texas.JPG

One of the big attractions in Fredericksburg, besides shopping, is the Nimitz War Museum, National Museum of Pacific War.  Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz served as CinCPAC, Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet and was soon afterward named Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas during World War II.

He was a hometown boy of German heritage.  Most people in this area have German heritage with German restaurants being another appeal.

The museum itself is huge and packed with memorabilia.  Several hours are required to view it all.

Behind the museum on the same property is a Japanese garden given by the Japanese government to promote friendship.

It’s a quiet tranquil place with a walking path on the edge of the small garden.

From that garden, the pathway leads to the Memorial Courtyard.  In the background you’ll see the Walk of Honor and the Memorial Walls.  There are numerous stone walls with thousands of pictures from WW II .

The berries on this tree look like a Possumhaw, but it has a single trunk.  Most native Possumhaws have small multiple trunks and are not this tall.  So it could be a hybrid or a totally different species.

Gorgeous tree.

As I walked along the wall, I just took a couple of pictures.  There are many individual pictures, as well.  In fact, every time we visit, there are more walls and more pictures.

One of the things I noticed were how many different ships and planes were involved.

There was a plaza with memorials in a semi-circle to honor all the US presidents who served.  Of course, F.D. Roosevelt and H. S. Truman were the commander-in-chiefs.  D. D. Eisenhower was the Commander in Europe.  J. F. Kennedy, L. B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush served in the Navy.  Ronald Reagan served in the Army.

Automatic cannon mounted on ships for antiaircraft use.

Torpedo housing to protect them from heat and being directly hit by other guns on board.

One of four solid bronze screws used to propel an aircraft carrier.

Although it wasn’t labeled,this looks like the Peace Rose, which was developed between 1935 and 1939 by a French horticulturist.  When German invasion was imminent, he sent cutting to friends out of the country to save it.

“The eyes of the world are upon you.  The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”  General Dwight D. Eisenhower

“They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation.”  Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Winter Color

Winter has been mild so far here, which is fine with me.  So there are some tiny bits of color scattered around the yard.

First, I must apologize for the quality of some of the pictures – not totally in focus.

Dianthus have survived a couple of freezes really well.

This Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana) has had some blooms that don’t stay open for more than a day.  It’s a native with dusty green curly leaves and is a good performer in both the summer heat and a mild winter.

Texas Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles japonica) usually has some flowers in January or February.One lone Daffodil has opened up.

Several years ago I bought this at a garden club sale and was told that it was an evergreen fern.  Turns out, it is a native Yarrow with white flowers.  But it is evergreen.

Pittsporoum in a pot provides some green, but the tips of the leaf edges are a little crisp from an earlier freeze.

Another native Yarrow has completely different leaves.  I think this is Moon Dust Yarrow (Achillea ‘Novaachdus’).  It is somewhat evergreen with dusty green leaves and does not reseed.

This hardy Ice Plant is amazing.  It’s been in the same pot on the back porch for years.  In cold weather, the foliage looks a little ragged, but it keeps on blooming even in freezing weather.  The pot is in a corner spot which protect it from harsh winds.

Yes.  I do know that this is a weed.  But the Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) will be easy to pull out of this pot when I want to get rid of it.

I think it’s pretty, and it is color.  Can’t be too choosy in the winter.

Spectacular sunrises start the day with cheery color.

On a cloud covered morning came brilliant red on the horizon.

While we’re enjoying a mild winter, I realize that further north, a polar vortex has struck with devastating temperatures.  I pray for safety for everyone experiencing this.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”   Edith Sitwell

That Tree

The photographer of this book, Mark Hirsch, took all the pictures in this coffee-table type book with an iphone.

He spoke at a Master Gardener conference last year.  After about 25 years as a newspaper photographer, he lost his job.  He lives in rural Wisconsin, so he travels a two lane road to and from town.  One day, a cement mixer truck passed his car on the edge of the road to his right.  The chute from the truck came loose and swung around to smash into the front windshield and struck Mark in the head.

During his long recovery and visits to the doctor, he passed by a farmer’s field with a large Bur Oak tree in the center of a corn field.

He became captivated by the tree during the changing seasons.  So Mark decided to take a picture of the tree every day for a year.  This book is the result of that project.

The creativity involved to get different shots that were aesthetically pleasing launched a career as an independent professional photographer.

Congratulations to him for the success of this project.

“Sometimes I arrive just when God is ready to have someone click the shutter.”               Ansel Adams