Garden at the Ridge, Part 2

As these nice crisp mornings continue and the leaves are starting to turn, it’s easy to enjoy autumn.

On our visit to Garden at the Ridge outside of Kerrville, it was fun to see the decorations and the plants for sale.  I didn’t buy a barrel cactus but was certainly tempted.

There’s just something about adding an old wheel rim or any other old piece of farm or ranch equipment to flowers or pumpkins that makes it chic.

This old Texas gal’s heart is warmed by memories of the pioneers.  It’s true that we romanticize what was actually a hard life in the dusty old west.  But we can understand that and still appreciate our history.

Pumpkins and scarecrows bring smiles.  I also like the Texas cutout in the upper right of this picture.

Since our last visit to this nursery, they’ve added a stage and a large grassy area for concerts.

Not sure what these tall flowers are.  They look like hollyhocks but that seems out of season.

Good old Potato Vine fills empty spaces and adds some pizzazz to these pumpkins.

White Chrysanthemums really pop in this tall pot.  It always makes nervous to see pots this tall and so small at the bottom.  I just think of the strong winds at our place and see them tumbling over.

The whole color scheme with the purple fall Asters, orange pumpkins, turquoise vase, and some greenery in the background is pleasing.

The muted color of these pumpkins look great with the Chrysanthemums, available in many different colors.

Love the bright color and festive look of Pride of Barbados.

There’s always something new at the Garden on the Ridge.

Dorothy:  “How can you talk if you haven’t a brain?”                                                  Scarecrow:  “Oh, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.”                                                                                             The Wizard of Oz



Garden at the Ridge

Based on the number of customers on a week day, the Garden at the Ridge, outside of Kerrville, does a booming business.

This is a large nursery and all of it was decked out for autumn.

One of the things I love about this place is the creative displays they have for every season.

I’m not a big cactus lover, since we battle prickly pears in the fields.  But this big barrel cactus was so appealing.  I think the groundcover is Silver Ponyfoot (Dichondra argentea).  An evergreen Texas native, it spreads by runners and is used a lot in the hill country.

This is a quirky display with a Barbie doll covered in moss and succulents.  Guess they just squirt the moss occasionally to keep it moist.

I’ve always like this tree trunk that has been carved into a giant tortoise.  It looks like mostly succulents have been planted there.

Several large wooden Texas shapes were displayed in different areas.  To the right is the guest shop.  I was disappointed because they used to sell garden items.  But now, it’s mostly jewelry and clothes.

To the right in the flower bed is a Blue Sky Plumbago or Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).  They’re not cold hardy in our area, but this further south.

Some garden decorations were available scattered through the plantings.

Pumpkins everywhere.  I wondered how many plants they would need to sell to cover the costs of all the pumpkins.  My husband speculated that the pumpkins were on consignment.  He’s probably right.  Of course, the pumpkins were for sell, but most everyone seemed interested in the plants.

An interesting side note:  pumpkin is the state fruit of New Hampshire.  The state fruit of Texas is the Texas Red Grapefruit grown in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

There were also lots of cute scarecrows adding to the autumn atmosphere.  The green plants growing here look like Columbine.  The foliage is probably evergreen here during most winters.

The Garden at the Ridge has a bakery and a restaurant.  This is the front porch for both. Cheery Chrysanthemums were placed in every nook and cranny.

This is a super nursery to stroll around in and just enjoy the sights.  The next post will have more pictures of our visit to this enjoyable place.

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”  Jim Davis

Arnosky Farm

The Arnosky Family Farm outside of Blanco is a flower farm.  They grow flowers for cut bouquets and provide the HEB ‘s in Austin and San Antonio with bundled flowers.

Inside the blue barn are bundles of cut flowers for sale.  Outside pots of live plants are also for sale.  It’s all done on an honor system.  In the past, they have had problems with people not paying, and I think on one instance, someone took the locked cash box.

Sometimes, it’s hard to fathom actions like that.

Of course, this is a seasonal business.  Right now zinnas and celosias were blooming.

Wait.  Those are marigolds.  Foliage should have made that obvious.

But my rant still is true:  In my opinion, zinnas are underused.  The seeds are cheap, the flowers beautiful, and they feed pollinators.  They are also almost full proof to grow.

This tall plant puzzled me.  The flowers look like zinnas, but they were so tall – above my head.

Yeah.  Thanks to a reader for the answer to my mystery.  These are Tithonias (Tithonia rotundifolia) or Mexican Sunflowers.

The sun was extremely bright, so it was hard to get good pictures.  This flower in the shade shows their true color.

Many different types of celosia growing in the fields.  They have that same weed that plagues me.  The one in the center with the tiny white flowers.  I don’t know it’s name but it is very prolific.

Like the red stems on these celosias.

Zinnas come in lots of colors and forms.  Some have double petals.  But the old fashioned one are better for pollinators to reach the nectar.

My mother used to call the celosia in the lower left corner “cock’s comb”.  It has a velvety look.

Not sure if the sunflowers were volunteers or are also used in bouquets.

There were also lots of marigolds in fields, but they were not in full bloom yet.  They actually sell lots of them for Day of the Dead celebrations.

Maximillian sunflowers.

I bought a few plants.  Such beautiful, healthy plants – hard to resist.

“No race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as writing a poem.”  Booker T. Washington




Weary of Summer

A few cooler mornings herald the coming of autumn in reality, not just on the calendar.

Just look at the that Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) and all the bright red blooms.  It doesn’t look stressed because it’s in the shade.  This was taken a couple of weeks ago at the AgriLife center in San Angelo.

 Turk’s Cap in my yard is in full sun, so the leaves are lighter in color and there aren’t as many flowers.

Also, at the Ag building was this ground cover in the Tradescantia family.  Growing around the trunk of a large oak, it was in full shade.  I asked but couldn’t find out the variety.

Back home where the front porch is shady part of the day, but still has bright light, is a tropical hibiscus.

In the shade part of the day, this Dianthus still has pretty flowers.

This protected corner next to the house is a good spot for Kolanchoe.  It  gets very little direct, harsh sunlight.

The original plant came from my mother about 20 years ago.  The flowers grow on the ends of stems and can become so heavy, the branch breaks off.

Irises require full sun but each new flower looks fresh.  But the foliage, which lasts for months looks bedraggled.  Grasshoppers have taken chunks out of it.

Roses have started to bloom after taking a hiatus during summer’s hottest days.  This flower is on Belinda’s Dream, an Earthkind rose.

This reblooming ‘Prickly Sensations’ Daylily was a bright surprise.  It didn’t bloom in the spring, so I was happy to see it.

Datura or Moon Flower or Jimsomweed must have some shade.  The leaves get ragged, but the flower which only lasts one morning, is bright and cheery.

After trying to get a picture of this tiny butterfly with its wings open, I decided that this was the best shot I could get.  It might be a Northern Cloudywing butterfly.

The plant is Caryopteris, which has definitely seen better days.  After the deep freeze, the foliage never totally filled out.  It probably needs to be cut back.

Shade makes it easier to endure the summer, both for humans and plants.  Nothing like sitting in the shade and enjoying a glass of iced tea on a hot summer day.

“It’s amazing how little you can know about a new place.  I look back on some of my most naive, or or most ignorant mistakes, and wonder what I could have been thinking.  But the truth is I just didn’t know.  In the world of gardening, you often learn by messing it up royally.”  Mary Irish

On the Wild Side

With our dry, hot summer keeping us mostly inside, the yard is definitely in need of some TLC.  As the mornings are becoming cooler, we must tackle the weeds and trim bushes, etc.

A volunteer plant in this pot is American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana).  I pulled this plant out of this pot a couple of years ago.  Must not have gotten all the tap root or a bird likes this perch to deposit seeds.

Poke salad, which is not a salad at all, has been eaten by Native Americans, African Americans and Southern people for decades.  But.  That’s a big but.  The plant is  poisonous and can only be consumed after taking precautions.  First, in the spring, only the young leaves and stems without any red in them are safe.  They must be boiled in at least two changes of water.  The big, juicy roots are extremely toxic and not to be eaten at all.

With this information, I wouldn’t even try them.

Chile tepin or Pequin pepper was named the official state native pepper in 1997.  They are  5–8 times hotter than jalapeños on the Scoville scale.  I just grow them for their looks and give the peppers to our son who likes the fire in the mouth taste.

Another volunteer in a pot is this big leafed plant. Just ignore the small weeds.

This is the flower at the top of its long stem.  I have no idea what it is, although I do remember planting some seeds in this pot.  Anyone know what it is?

A Texas native, Texas Kidneywood has grown amok.  It used to be a erect bush and not leaning in all directions.  I don’t know if I should trim it up or not.

Bees and other pollinators don’t seem to care how it looks.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) seeds were given to me by a friend years ago.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Each year the seed pods break open and the wind scatters them.  It’s a North American native that loves our dry, hot summers.

Repeat blooming Irises behave a lot like natives because they’re hardy and can endure whatever weather comes along.  They are tough as nails rhizomes that multiply and have beautiful flowers.

Another gorgeous iris.  Their stems aren’t as tall this time of the year, but they still put on a great show.

A change of scenery.  Last Saturday we attended the annual Fall Landscaping Symposium in San Angelo.  Since this is an AgriLife building, they had to join the San Angelo tradition of displaying painted rams.

A little A & M humor.

The pictures show some of our state symbols, like Bluebonnets, Mocking Birds, Side Oats grass, and cotton.  Prickly pear cactus are the bottom of the legs in the previous picture.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them is dirt.”  John Muir

A Few Old Standbys

This summer hasn’t been as hot as most, but it’s definitely dry here.  It feels like we’re the only spot in Texas that hasn’t received much rain.  So things are beginning to look bedraggled.

But some things just keep on going.  Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) has performed for many years in this spot.

And the aroma.  It just perfumes the whole area.

Only drawback to this vine is that it must be cut down to the ground in late fall or winter.  Otherwise it will fall over, trellis and all.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) doesn’t even begin to flower until mid or late August.  Makes for strong anticipation.

The tiny flowers remind me of a nosegay.

Good old pink and white Gauras (Gaura lindheimeri) just keeps on blooming from spring to freeze.

I was watching all the bees zooming from one flower to another, only stopping a second on each one.  You can see one in motion in the picture.

Old fashioned Geraniums bloom all summer.  These came from a friend years ago.  I usually propagate some in late fall when everything goes in the green house.

Sorry, I should have pulled off the spent blooms before taking the picture.

An absolute must for gardeners who want butterflies in their yards.  Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) guarantees Queen butterflies.

According to the Texas Butterfly Ranch, “The bloom of the mistflower contains a special alkaloid that male Queens ingest, sequester, and later release as an aphrodisiac to attract females.”

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) has been in this spot at least 15 years.   It spreads by underground rhizomes, so I have to watch carefully to keep it within bounds.

I don’t think it’s even possible to kill this stuff.

There is a hybrid that grows low to the ground and is well behaved.  It doesn’t spread like crazy.

Passion Vine is surprisingly hardy.  If you look closely, you’ll see my nemesis – a native Morning Glory vine that takes over.  It has heart shaped leaves.  I don’t know how fast it grows, but I can’t keep ahead of it, especially when it gets hot.

A few flowers still appear on the Crinums.  Their star time is in late spring.

There’s that vine again.  Bah, humbug.

Every year Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads out a little more.  Now the invasive morning glories are trying to cover it all.  I doubt if I could even find where the vine is growing in the ground.  So I pull it off, trying not to yank out the bushes under it.

Love this hardy bush and the bright red turban-shaped flowers.

“Gardening will break your heart, but each time you fail, you learn something about yourself and the plants you’re trying to nurture.                                                                Gardening will break your heart, but don’t give up. Also, try not to make the same mistakes. Learn from them instead.”                       Dee Nash

Some Like It Hot

Summer is in full swing.  The heat is oppressive and makes it difficult to do gardening chores.  I pity the people who work outside for a living.

Some plants reach their prime in this heat.  Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)  is one of them.  Guess the word desert makes that obvious.

Naked Ladies (Amaryllis Belladonna) surprise me each year.  The dark color below them is the dried flower heads of Gulf Coast Penstemon.

Grape Hyacinth Bean Vines or Purple Hyacinth (Lablab purpureus) are annuals grown from seeds.  They do well in pots or in the ground.  Just save the seeds in the dried seed pods for next year.

These are great pass-along seeds.  But they can be ordered on-line.

Love, love these large Hardy Hibiscus.  They die back to the ground in the winter.  Their roots survived the extra hard winter in February.  They just keep on giving.  Such beauties.

Look carefully to see the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (or maybe a Giant Swallowtail?) on the Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).

Also, the ever present menace: a grasshopper on a hibiscus petal.  Holes they leave can be seen in leaves and petals all over the yard.

Obviously, the heat doesn’t bother the bees and other pollinators.

I’m guilty of pushing my zone when choosing plants.  This Pride of Barbados or Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrimais) is listed as Zone 8b.  I’m in Zone 8, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  So far, I’ve grown them in pots to be carried in the winter.  Ones that we’ve planted in the ground haven’t made.

But as you can see, this one looks pretty sad.  So this fall, we’re going to plant it in a protected area and see what happens.

Still a few gorgeous flowers on the Bubba Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis).  Great ornamental trees.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Hope you have a great summer and can enjoy the outside from a cool spot.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”   Sam Keen.

Fayetteville Visit

Wherever I go, local plants are a must see.  Recently we were in Fayetteville, AR, for a wedding.  It was, of course, hot and HUMID.  But we did take a short walk on a path behind the hotel.

Fayetteville has an extensive paved bike and walking path.  This part was beside a small stream.

As expected, there were plants that I didn’t recognize.  Lovely clusters of pink flowers.  Because the growth along the water was so thick, it was difficult to determine which stems the flowers were growing on.  I was hesitant to put my hand down into the plants to pull them apart.

Many of the plants along the water were riparian, but it was surprising to see many plants that also do well in our drier area.  Mimosas (Albizia julibrissin) or Persian silk trees grow in our area but probably need extra watering.

Although it’s native to China, the botanical name comes from an Italian nobleman Filippo degli Albizzi, who brought them to Europe in the 1700’s.

These flowers are growing on individual stems from the main stems.  The flowers have a similar look as Black-eyed Susans.

This certainly looks like Desert False Indigo.  Correction.  A reader identified this as Sumac.

This is our Desert False Indigo in early spring. The leaves will fill in to make the plant look more like the one in Fayetteville.

The seed heads on the one in Fayetteville are little different shape.

The dark seed head clusters on ours are longer and thinner.  But surely they are in the same family.

On the other side of the walkway was a tall stone wall.  It was a retainer wall for the  higher ground level of the businesses at street level.

The bell like flowers are so pretty, but I wondered if they were invasive.  So many vines in our area are invasive and difficult to get rid of.  And some of them also have pretty flowers.

In late spring, I spent several hours digging up a vine with purple flowers that had become very well intrenched.  In the process, I had to lose quite a few other plants.

Along that same side of the path was this group of tall asters or sunflowers.  They reminded me of the Swamp Sunflowers in my yard.

But the flowers are very different.

Our Swamp Sunflowers have different flowers and leaves but are on tall stems.

The rehearsal dinner was outdoors.  Although the servers for the meal are messing up the aesthetics with their dishes on the rock wall of the flowerbed, the Hydrangeas still look glorious.

Hydrangeas originate in China, but the French hybridized them into the beauties we see today.  American growers have several varieties with a limelight shade of “mop heads”.

The world is full of amazing plants with specific needs.  Some people in our area do have success with hydrangeas, but they require lots of water, which in turn requires daily attention.

“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except how to grow in rows.”  Doug Larson

Garden Preferences

What kind of garden makes you smile?  When I see very formal gardens, like those in European castle gardens, I feel intimidated.  Of course, they’re beautiful with perfect, precise lines with lots of clipped topiaries.  But all I can think of is the maintenance and how restricted they make me feel.

The type of garden that makes me happy is one with lots of different types of plants.  I lean towards ones with cluttered flowerbeds – not messy, but full of beautiful plants.  I would consider myself to be an eclectic gardener because I love so many different types of plants.

Natives, like Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus), would definitely have a place in my garden.  First, they are extremely hardy and dependable.  Second, they require less water than many other plants.  Third, the pollinators need them.

Turk’s Cap has such intricate flowers.  Absolutely love them.

A must-have native for me is Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea).  There are so many others that I could name, like Caryopteris, Columbine, Gaura, Hollyhock, and Zinnias.  Just think of the flowers in your grandmother’s flowerbeds and the memories they evoke.

John Fanick Phlox (Phlox paniculata) is another Texas Native.

I would also throw in some wildflowers.  Iron Weed (Vernonia gigantea) blooms in the hottest part of the summer.  I especially like American Basket Flower and Texas Blue Bells.  The early spring ones like Bluebonnets, Indian Blankets, and Paint Brushes are well known and loved.

Clammy Weed (Iltis Capparaceae) is less known.  They bloom in the summer. The seed pods burst and the wind scatters them all over, so they are surprises the next year, like Larkspurs.

Flowering bushes add a special treat.  Crepe Myrtles add so much color and beauty.


Look at those big, full clusters.  How could anyone not like them?

These Dynamite Crepe Myrtles needed some serious pruning after the freeze.  We cut off lots of dead, thick branches.  But they look gorgeous now.

The color of the flowers used to be a darker red, but they are fuller this year in this lighter color.  Other flowering small trees that I really like are Golden Lead Ball, Rose pf Sharon and Eve’s Necklace.


And I will always have some tropical plants in pots.  That is, as long as we are physically able to haul them into the shed for the winter.  African Bulbine (Bulbine natalensis), with its long stems blowing in the wind are fascinating.  It’s a succulent from South Africa.

Ixora is native to the Philippians and the surrounding area of Asia.

Rhizomes, like this Bearded Iris, will always be an important part of my garden.  Daylilies and Cannas are good old southern staples in warm climates.

Daylilies are tuberous roots.  Love all kinds of daylilies.  They can be tucked into any small empty space.

Let’s not forget bulbs, like Crinums, Daffodils and Giant Spider Lilies.  The choices are endless.

Some plants have sentimental importance to me.  This Kolanchoe was given to me by my mother.  A plant given to me always reminds me of that person.

Kolanchoe is native to Madagascar and parts of western Africa.  It was also the first plant sent into space to the Soviet Salyut 1 space station in 1979.

This has been long, but I hope it brings to mind what you like in a garden.  Just embrace those choices and don’t worry about what is “correct” according to landscapers.

“The philosopher who said that work well done never needs doing over never weeded a garden.”  Ray D. Everson

Here Comes Summer

The mild summer temps have been a wonderful treat.  Just keep wondering how long before the stifling heat is turned on.

Daylilies have kept blooming because of the mild weather.  Pretty sure this one is “Elegant Candy”.  It does look yummy.

Spider Lily finally bloomed.  It looks bedraggled.  Think the grasshoppers attacked it.  Last fall I bought three more from a youth organization.  But they didn’t make it through the winter.

I think the Daylilies are finally done.  Sure have enjoyed them.  “Early Snow” has a pure, crisp look.

Tiger Lilies bloomed this week.  So glad to see that they survived.

Thankfully some things can be expected to last all summer, like these Rose Mosses (Portulaca grandiflora).  They had to be replaced this year for the first time in ages.  The cold winter days killed lots of plants in pots.

Another standby is Oxalis also known as wood sorrel or false shamrock.  Of course, it was in the green house for the winter.  This plant has been in this pot for ages.

The Thornless Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia geroldii) was also in the greenhouse.  I lost the mother plant, which was on the floor.  I’m so glad that I had propagated it.  This smaller pot was on an upper shelf, so it stayed warmer.

I also have a Crown of Thorns with thorns. It’s Euphorbia milii.  So they’re both in the same family.

Purple Cone Flowers (Echinacea purpurea) under a small multi-trunk bush have shot up seeking sunlight.  It just wouldn’t be summer without them.

It’s getting warm enough for Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) to grow and get ready for flowering.  They will grow another three feet and won’t bloom until the hottest part of August.  Although it certainly isn’t swampy here, they do great in our heat.

Hope your summertime is filled with flowers, family, and fun.

“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”  old French proverb