Bird Island

Bird Island in Pebble Beach can be viewed from a rocky beach near a parking area.

The island itself looks like solid rock covered in bird guano.  From the shore it’s difficult to distinguish the birds.

Zoom lens reveals individual birds.

Most of birds are cormorants, which feed on sea fish.  Their feathers allow their wings to become saturated so they can dive deep.  On the rock they can be seen with their wings open to dry thme.

Years ago we saw cormorants used by Chinese fishermen.  A string was tied around their neck so they could not swallow.  The fishermen would push one off a small boat and pull them back on to remove the fish the bird had caught in his beak.

Another island a little further out provides a resting spot for sea lions.

Walking down to the sandy beach, a path led us through lots of native vegetation.  The roots holds the soil in place.

The pinkish flowers look cotton candy.

The ground was hard packed, so walking was easy without sinking into the sand.

The constant movement of the ocean could be seen as waves washed up on the rocks.

Small shells were scattered on the sand.

A nice quiet time on the beach before the crowds arrived.

This will be the last post from our time in California.

“…recognize and respect Earth’s beautiful systems of balance, between the presence of animals on land, the fish in the sea, birds in the air, mankind, water, air, and land.  Most importantly there must always be awareness of the actions by people that can disturb this precious balance.”            Margaret Meade

Carmel Valley

Expectations are often disappointed.  We were prepared for mild mid 70’s weather in Carmel.  In reality, it was mostly mid to low 60’s.  Too chilly for us coming from high 90’s.  So we were pleased one day to drive into the valley away from the sea.

The green rolling hills and farms of the valley were a breathe of fresh air away from the crowded area of all the towns bunched around Carmel.

Although we saw these plants on tall stems growing everywhere, no one was able to identify them.  Notice that the hen and chick looking head was green, black,

or red.  Does anyone know their name?

The other plant that I loved were these hibiscus looking flowers on tall stems.

The warmer valley could have been mistaken for parts of New Mexico.

A wide diversity of cacti and succulents added interest to the small town.

A long planting of Lavender and the light purple flowers of Agapanthus or Lily of the Valley on the other side of the fence complemented each other nicely.  They seemed to be thriving all over the areas we visited because of the mild winters.

Don’t know why this fence fascinated me.  No one else seemed interested.

Great plant holder in a boutique/antique store.

This little lady welcomed all the shoppers.

Finally, part of this ubiquitous plant’s flowering color had not faded yet.  Even past its blooming time, it’s an interesting plant.

Loved the open spaces and warmth of the valley.  Just a country girl at heart.

“Social and media should not be used together because it becomes an oxymoron.”  unknown

Carmel by the Sea

The Carmel coastline is rocky with a few sandy beaches.

On one side of a narrow street that follows the curves of the coast are homes.  The lot sizes are small because the land is so costly.  Behind the houses lining the street are other houses built up higher behind them to get an ocean view.

The tiny front yards are designed to give the most bang for their space.

Parking is along the street, so it’s necessary to walk a long way to get to certain destinations.

Closer to the town, a Stanford University marine trial station is on the beach side on a large lot.  Near there was this humongous Bottle Brush bush.

The “brushes” don’t look exactly the same as the ones sold in Texas.  Stunning, aren’t they?

Another bush along this same stretch of land is this stunner.  It was planted several places in town, so it may or may not be a native.

A long swatch of this is probably a native.  This is further from the edge of the shopping areas and seemed to be growing wild.

A chain link fence serves as a barrier to the beach.

On the Stanford University property, we could see sea lions resting on a small sandy beach.

Ice Plant is evidently a good soil erosion prevention plant.  Very few flowers were open, so it must not be their blooming season, or we just missed it.

Then came a walking path along the sea with a low rock fence.

This most unusual looking house sits on a less developed area of the inland side of the road.  What is that patchwork roof made of?  Crazy.

Lovers point is our destination.

Lots of these striking plants all over this area of California.

The water was choppy but paddle boarders, canoers, and surfers enjoyed the 4th of July in the water.  Just hoped they were experienced and knew how to miss the rocks.

The actual point of Lover’s Point has a large pile of rocks.

There are restrooms, a children’s play area, and a restaurant.  Love these hybrid daises.

The underside of the petals are a light purple.

Some of the chubbiest squirrels I’ve ever seen.  Don’t know what the tourists are feeding them.  Lots of different languages could be hear.

The roots of small native plants were tucked under the rocks.  Extremely hardy to endure the environment and the foot traffic.

Since I’ve seen lots of rock piles in Texas, not sure what the draw was.  But here we were.

Couldn’t get acclimated to the cold weather.  But enjoyed the sights.

“Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.”  Christopher Reeve

Carmel

Carmel proved to be just as pristine and unique as expected.

The downtown shopping area was adorned with flowers in pots and beds everywhere available for planting.

Bougainvilleas were huge, full of blooms and gorgeous.  The mild climate allows every bush and vine to flourish.  The Morning Glory in the foreground is climbing up the building.

Upscale shopping is the name of the game.  Lots of tempting shops.

The succulents on tall stems are everywhere along the coast but I couldn’t find anyone that could give them a name.  The pot to the lower right contains Cigar Plant (Cup0hea ignea).  Should have gotten a closer picture of that.

Landscapers must do a booming business in this town.

The lavender colored flowers are probably Pincushion flowers.

Lovely sentimental bronze statue.  Note the heart in her hand.

All different kinds of architecture.

But the one that surprised me were the Hobbit looking ones.

Probably cost a lot of money to get this roof that looks like a drunk laid the shingles.

Sunglasses in a bush – very Californian.

Another ubiquitous succulent with lovely pink flowers.  Wonder if it’s too hot here to grow that.  But I would need to know its name.

Wondered if this pot is hypertufa.  And how is it attached?

Wandered into a storybook setting.

An outdoor eating area of a restaurant with a fire pit attracts these Western Bluebirds.  No one seemed to be worried that they might land on their plate.

Just doesn’t get any quainter than this.

The source of those mysterious dried flowers that come in florist arrangements.  When dried, Purple Statice Sea Lavender outlasts the fresh flowers by a long shot.

Had a lovely day strolling in and out of shops.  But mostly, the flower caught my attention.

Pretty in Pink

It always surprises me when I realize how many different pink flowers are in the yard.  I guess because pink is one of my least favorite colors for clothes or decorating.

But Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)  bushes are totally lovely and as hardy as plants come.  This was a pass-a-long from a friend. Because new plants come up each year, they have been moved to different locations in our yard and also have been gifted to others.

Don’t ya love gifts that bring pleasure for many years.

The flowers are so stunning that I can’t stop snapping pictures.  Grow in full sun and well draining soil.

The bush in the foreground is a different strand of Althea or Rose of Sharon that was ordered from a catalog.

They don’t even look like they’re in the same family.  It’s called Althea Double Purple.

More hibiscus-like flowers on another Rose of Sharon that is covered with pink goodness.  Definitely not roses, so why that common name?  Who knows. These bushes are about 9 ft. tall.

Texas Rock Roses (Pavonia lasiopetala) grows as an evergreen and is another plant that has a misnomer name.  They only get about two to three feet tall and wide.

Looks like a small hibiscus.  Full sun and a little water makes it a happy camper.

French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris) tend to grow up but not wide.  So dainty.

Phlox (Phlox paniculata) has just started to bloom.  Actually, it did not bloom its first year, so I’m anxious to see how it performs.

Annual periwinkles add a bit of color in semi-shade.

Alnwick Rose by David Austin has grown and bloomed better than some of the Austin roses in my yard.

Another David Austin rose Princess Alexandra of Kent was planted this spring.  Even though it’s still a small bush, it has bloomed its head off.

Besides that, it has an impressive name.

‘Ellen Bosanquet’ Crinum Lily is blooming in spite of the fact that the bulbs were disturbed last fall when a new fiber line came into the house right where they have been for years.  Their blooming period is rather short but spectacular.

“Well done is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin

Good-bye to Spring

As an unusually long, cool, wet spring comes to an end, we’re all counting our blessings.  This wonderful weather has been wide spread and a real treat.  It’s near the end of June and no really hot temperatures.  Hooray.It’s sad to say good bye to the spectacular show of Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum.)

Daisies are one of my favorite flowers.  Emphasis on the word “one”.  A Painted Lady is enjoying a flat landing spot.

Many gorgeous spirals on the Vitex or Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has brought a sweet fragrance to the back yard.

In the front yard, another Vitex, but it almost seems like a different species.  The blossoms are smaller, a paler color, and not scented.  In front of the Vitex are some Flame Acanthus, which just keep spreading.

In late fall, I cut both Vitex back severely to keep them from becoming large trees because those are not nearly as attractive.

This flowerbed is anchored by the Vitex and a large Desert False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa). Between the large bush/trees are Cone Flowers and Rock Roses by the sidewalk.

Behind the Cone flowers is a Bridal Wreath Spiraea, a small Crepe Myrtle, and some Mexican Feather Grass.  So this bed is crammed full.

Cone Flowers (Echinacea purpurea) are also waning, although some will hang on through the summer.

Another absolute favorite.

The Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella or Stipa tenuissima) hasn’t totally greened up yet.  This is considered to be invasive but that hasn’t happened in this bed.

The ground cover around the Vitex is Stonecrop Sedum.  It helps keep the native grass out of this bed.

This year I’ve planted Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetti) in a pot so it can be carried inside in winter.  One year I tried it in a flower bed; that winter was particulary harsh and killed it.

The flowers have a similar look as Mexican Petunia.

After the initial first flush, the roses are just now starting to bloom again.  Abraham Darby has David Austin’s trademark inner petals.

A new rose that intrigues me is Scentimental.  It was hybridized by Tom Carruth.

He has created more roses than any other living American.

It’s also called a red and white stripped rose.  So far, I haven’t noticed that the smell is that strong, but still love the uniqueness of it.

“Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind than on the externals in the world.”  George Washington

Bountiful Bulbs, Rhizomes, Tubers

Call me old fashioned, but I love bulbs.  At different times of the year there will be irises, lilies, crinums, cannas, hyacinths, or daffodils blooming in my yard.  They are just so easy.  Plant them, water them, and forget them.  Each year they will reward you with gorgeous blooms.

Right now daylilies are opening up to reveal bright or pale colors.  All of the daylilies in these pictures are from Breck’s.  I think this one is Funny Valentine.

Daylilies may seem bland to some people, but they actually have different shaped petals: ruffles or no ruffles, some wide and others narrow.  The colors range all over, but no blues that I’ve seen.

All of these are reblooming meaning they bloom in the spring and in the fall.

Early Snow Daylily

Always Afternoon Daylily is interesting because the top petals are ruffled and the lower only slightly curled.

Scottish Fantasy

Bold colored Erin Lea’s deep golden color makes it stand out.

Passion for Red is also bright.

Sunday Gloves – who names these?

Crimson Pirate spider daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’)

Cannas form colonies because their bulbs multiply quickly.  So only buy one or two and in five years or less, you’ll have plenty to gift family and friends.

This group has red blossoms, although the early morning light makes them look splotchy in this picture.

This year I’m trying Asian lilies.  So far, I love them.  They have a real wow factor.  The stems are less than a foot tall, so the big flowers don’t tip over.  This one is Eyeliner.  Each bloom has lasted for several days.

Planted in full sun until late afternoon doesn’t seem to be problem.

Since I sing the praises of bulbs to anyone who will listen, Breck’s should give me a discount as their ambassador.

“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”  unknown

Along the Roadsides

Thanks to Lady Bird Johnson, Texas roadsides are filled with wildflowers in the spring.  She was the catalyst for changes to the highway department treatment of the land along highways.

First, the strips of land along the pavement were seeded with wildflowers in the autumn.  Then, mowing was delayed in the spring until after the wildflowers went to seed.

Now we Texans are known for our love of Bluebonnets, which bloom in early spring.  But I think the wildflowers that follow in later spring are just as spectacular.

The flowers that are seeded along the highway spread into the fields.

Love the fields of yellow.

There are lots of different yellow flowers that are seen in the fields.  But these are Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria).

This year a nice surprise was seeded.  Massive drifts of Basket Flower (Centaurea americana) were lovely.  This is the first time that I can remember that this wildflower has been used by the highway maintenance department in our area.

I suspect that the reason they haven’t been seeded before is because some people might mistake them for thistles, which are very invasive and are not desirable.

In fact, several different thistles thrive in our climate. Now sure if this one is Mexican Thistle, New Mexican Thistle or Texas Thistle.

Although it is quite pretty, beware, the foliage is prickly.  Tiny needles will cut into bare skin.  The smooth foliage of a Basket Flower is one way to distinguish it from a thistle.

Where one thistle grows this year, hundreds will grow next year.

Here, Basket Flowers are mixed in with thistle.

Another wildflower that has been more prevalent in our area this year is Horsemint (Monarda citriodora).  It’s one of my favorites.

Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera) usually has a brown splotch on the top of each petal.  These solid yellow petals are unusual.

And the central disc with the seeds is especially long.

Some of the more aggressive wildflowers are not seeded, such as these Beggar’s Lice (Torilis arvensis)  on our county road.  They look pretty from the car, but they are a menace in the yard.  They are also called hedge parsley or wild carrot.

As the flowers dry up, their seeds stick to anything like lice, so they can repopulate the world.  This year, we tried to pull them early, so that seeds wouldn’t fall to the ground.

The thing is, they first look like Queen Anne’s Lace, so it’s tempting not to get rid of them.  But I learned my lesson a few years ago.

Antelope Horns Milkweed (Asclepias asperula) is another native that spreads easily.  When the brown seed pods open up, hundreds of tiny puffs will float, like dandelions tufts, to germinate in other spots.

Since milkweed is the only plant where Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs, it is essential for their survival.  When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars then consume the leaves of the milkweed.  Even though it isn’t the prettiest wild flower around, it vital to not destroy them.

Now that the highway mowers have been busy cutting everything down, it’s the end of spring wildflowers and the beginning of the long hot summer.

“Wildflowers are the stuff of my heart.”  Lady Bird Johnson

On the Wild Side

Out in the fields, it looks like color bombs have exploded scattering bright hues everywhere.

This field is between our house and barn.  Notice up front are three areas that have been mowed around.  Behind them is another perpendicular spot with red dots.

The three plots up front were planted with old fashioned irises about 12 years ago.  The first few years, I toiled to keep them weed free.  I even hired a guy to help me one year.  I noticed that he only pulled the top of the weeds off and did not get the roots.  So, eventually, I resorted to mowing around the rows.  When the irises are in bloom, they stick up above the weeds.

Here is a close up view of one clump of iris leaf blades. along with Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctorial) and wild native grasses.

Plains Coreopsis tends to grow in isolated small clumps, but can probably spread if the conditions are right.

The long plot behind the iris beds was seeded with native wildflowers three years ago.  The first year it produced most of the different seeds in the packets.  The next year, there were almost no wildflowers.

Because of the dry, hot summer last year and the wet fall and spring, this year there are masses of the hardy wildflowers.  Those are the ideal conditions for Texas wildflowers.

The Indian Blankets (Galillardia pulchella) are iconic all over Texas.

Their strong color really draws the eye.  Here, the one on the right has lost its petals and has dropped some of its seeds.

The white balls of Basket Flowers (Centaurea americana) have opened into beautiful white centers and lacy purple edges.

The first time I saw Basket Flowers was four years ago.  I fell in love with them immediately.  They are not common in many parts of Texas.

There are two main companies that sell Texas wildflower seeds – Wildflower Farm Seeds in Fredericksburg and Native American Seeds in Junction.  Both have online order services.

One of the flowers that I had hoped would reseed was Horsemint (Monarda citriodora), also call Purple Lemon Mint.  This year, I’ve enjoyed those stalked, ruffled layers of different shades of purple.

Every year we have these gorgeous flowers scattered across the field.  I haven’t be able to identify them.  They grow on a single stem all alone.  Anyone know what they are?

A reader has just identified this flower.  It’s Texas Skeleton Plant (lygodesmia texana).

Another wildflower favorite is Mexican Hat or Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnifera).  Small groups of them rise above the grass level.

The tall top part of their “hat” is covered with brown seeds.  When the seeds drop, they’re left with a white top hat.

Growing low to the ground is this cluster of tiny white flowers with a pink tint.  Wish I knew their name.

Another mystery plant are these tiny stalks.  It looks like they had purple flowers.

In the yard, patches of Texas Frog Fruit (Lippia nodiflora) pop up most years.  It’s a creeping perennial that many consider a nuisance.  I’m sort of neutral about them.

This is a great time to get out and enjoy whatever flowers nature provides for you.

“Wildflowers – I envy them.  They’re brave.  Seeds cast by the wind to land where they may, they stay and hold against most hot, most cold.  They persevere, roots shallow, yet fierce and free.  They epitomize to me all that I sometimes yearn to be.”               Julie Andrews

There’s Always Room for …

Remember that old slogan, “There’s always room for jello.”?  Guess it’s a good one if the slogan is still around rattling around in my memory.

Anyway, my gardening philosophy is that there’s always room for another plant.

Kindly Light Spider Lilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) blooming in their glory.

Love their shape and color.

Texas Leather Flower (Clematis texensis) was a surprise volunteer plant in a flowerbed this year.  They are native further south of us and not common even there anymore.

Small bell like flowers on the twining vine is growing on an old metal tower.  Otherwise, I probably would not have seen them.  They are surprisingly cold hardy.

This mixture of cannas, wild ornamental onions, Larkspurs, and Red Yuccas shows my preference for plants bunched together.

Unfortunately, native Bermuda grass is taking over and impossible to remove.

The grasses in the fields around our yard have gotten tall.  We were waiting until all the wildflowers dropped their seeds before shredding it down.

But there have been lots of snakes around this year.  So my husband mowed around the wildflowers and cut down the grass closest to the yard to discourage snakes from invading the yard.  Hopefully that will work.  Anyway, it will make them more noticeable if they don’t respect our space. Such a pipe dream!

Moonshine” Yarrow or Sneezewort (Achillea “Moonshine”) with its grey foilage is a reliable perennial. This yellow yarrow spreads slowly, so it’s not agressive.

This annual Superbells Pomegrante Punch (Calibrachoa) provides some bright color, which I seem to be addicted to.  I tend to not buy annuals because they are so short lived, but all the box stores entice me with their outside displays.

Reblooming Daylillies do not rebloom on a schedule, so it’s a nice surprise when they do.  I think this one is Scottish Fantasy.

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.  The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle,  you must fear or hate them.                                                         The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.                                                                                                                                Both are nonsense.  You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”    Rick Warren