Antique Rose Emporium, Again

For people who like whimsy in the garden or just creative ideas, Antique Rose Emporium is the place to visit.

emporiumThese stacked pot arches are in several places in the gardens.emporium3

emporium6Several older houses and buildings are scattered around the grounds.  This one may have been the home of the owner at one time.emporium1As one would expect, there are lots and lots of roses for sale.

emporium0I absolutely love this vine.  It is tropical and so impractical for me, but I was sure tempted to buy one.

emporium5The flowers are breathtaking and exotic.

Skyvine (Thunbergia grandiflora) has lots of common names such as Blue Thunbergia, Bengal Clock Vine, Bengal Trumpet Vine, and Blue Sky Flower.  It has naturalized in many tropical areas around the world.

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emporiumaCute.

emporium7There are so many of these extra tall towers for climbers that I couldn’t pass up snapping shots of them.

emporium2More roses.  It’s fun to walk around soaking up the scents.

emporium8The bushes with blue flowers are Cape Plumbagos (Plumbago auriculata), which must have winter protection in my area.

emporiumbSomething for everyone.

emporiumjlI only remember the story line of The Wizard of Oz in a general line.  Here is one of the wicked witches.

emporiumlThe sign:  “Come in, my pretties”.  The old lady Elmira Gulch rode a bike and was swept into the tornado.  The same actress played Elmira and the two witches.

emporiumjThe Tin Man has run out of oil.

roseempcToto waits for Dorothy.

emporiumcInteresting plant with the pink tips.

emporiumdSpiked Cockscomb (Celosia spicata) definitely attracts butterflies, even at the end of blooming season.

emporiumeTheir twisted stems also got my attention.

emporiumfAs you can see, each photo opportunity seemed better than the last one.

emporiumgA simple flat bucket of Marigolds, I think.  Put a rabbit and a mailbox with it, and voila, you have something to draw attention.

emporiumhA new favorite bush, Firebush (Hamelia patens) is a tropical bush that requires zone 9.  I’ve been debating with myself about giving it a try.  Maybe I could find a protected spot where it could make it through freezes.

emporiumiLike the hair on this one.

emporiumkGrasses, ferns, and other plants, all mixed together.

emporiummThey make gardening look so easy.

emporiumnLast year I looked for a deep red Coleus but couldn’t find one.  Now I know where to find one.

emporiumoAlso liked this unusual Coleus with a polka dot look.

emporiumpLiked it so much that I just had to take a picture of one in a pot with a spiky plant.

emporiumqThis metal cat greets visitors or hisses a goodby.

Our visit at Antique Rose Emporium sparked my creative juices.

“If a man says he will fix it, he will.  There is no need to remind him every six months.”  unknown

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Austin’s Zilker

In all the many times we’ve visited Austin, we had never been to Zilker Botanical Gardens.  So in June, the morning after we attended a Gilbert and Sullivan production, we walked through the gardens.

Zilker3Near the entrance from the parking lot is an above ground pond for water plants.

ZilkerI love water lilies but don’t want to bother with the installation, maintenance, and problems with animals that a water feature might involve.

Zilker4Looks like a dill plant, but in water?

Zilker1Very soothing to the soul.

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Zilker5Another favorite – Hydrangeas –  cannot be grown here.  Rocky clay soil and extreme dry heat just don’t cut it.

Zilker6Queen of the Nile (Agapanthus) don’t make it through our winters.  Really lovely, though.

Zilker7This might be another variety of Queen of the Nile.

Zilker8Plumbagos (Plumbago auriculate) are from South Africa and do very well here in the summer but must go into a green house for the winter.

Zilker9Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus mutabilis), also know as Confederate Rose or Mallow Rose, is a super perennial in our area and evergreen further south.

ZilkeraAlthough Austin is only 125 miles south of us, the weather is much more tropical.  So the plants that grow there don’t have to contend with cold weather, most of the time.

Zilkerb A large section of the park has tropical plants and natives to the area growing in a naturalistic style.

ZilkercSome areas seem like they are in the country rather than the city.

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ZilkereTexas Pink Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘Texas Pink’)

ZilkerfMexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

ZilkergI like the look of tropical foliage plants but since they are annuals here, I don’t buy them.

ZilkerhPride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) thrives in Austin but doesn’t survive winter here.  So we grow Mexican Bird of Paradise, which has a similar look but not the bright color of the flowers.

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ZilkerjLove the bright red of what I think is a Firecracker Plant or Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea).

ZilkerkFirecracker Plant or Fountain Plant (Russelia equisetiformis) grows in zone 9 or above.  It’s a nice filler plant.

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ZilkermA Walking Stick on a lamplight globe.

ZilkernI think this is Mexican Heather.

ZilkeroUnknown.

ZilkerpThese gardens looked very Austin, but I personally prefer that botanical gardens be more formal since my own gardens are not.

One note:  there was a large rose garden area, but the bushes were in sad shape and didn’t have many blooms.  I did not think that the roserosette virus had reached Austin yet.  It started in Oklahoma and is in most of North Texas now and is breaking rose lovers hearts.  So far, we have been spared.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  Archbishop Desmond Tutu

San Angelo Water Lilies

To say unusual and unexpected is an understatement about the San Angelo International Water Lily Collection.  The fact that it exists is due to the dream of one man – Ken Landon.

First, a little history.  San Angelo is located where five spring fed streams converge.  As early as the 15th century the Indians that lived there were peaceful hunters and gatherers.  Early Spanish explorers named them Jumanos.   These same people groups would go to Spanish missions and settlements further west seeking protection from the warlike plains Indians.  They described their home area as a land of water and flowers.

In the early 1600’s two monks from a Franciscan monastery near present day Albuquerque were sent to investigate their claim and found a crystal clear pond covered with water lilies.

This information comes a pamphlet provided by the city at the Visitor Center.

waterlilykToday the water lily collection is part of the city park system but is supervised by Mr. Landon.  This is the most extensive collection of different varieties of water lilies of any place in the US.

The ponds are about 12 feet below street level.

waterlilybAlong the street side a steep wall covered with Cross Vines is a striking backdrop as well as the plantings in front of it.  These include the hardy Texas Superstar Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans).

waterlilygThe two side “walls” are terraced beds filled with many different varieties of plants.  Some are well adapted to the area, like the hardy Hibiscus with the large blooms.  In this same bed are some tropical Hibiscus, which have to be dug up and taken into the park system’s greenhouse.  Others are replaced from new rootings already being grown in the greenhouse.

The back ‘wall’ opens into another park area.  There is also some construction there.  Maybe new ponds?

waterlilyfThis shrub with the greyish green foliage is Cassia.  I only know that because the ground crew had just finished their lunch and answered a few questions for me.

waterlilyeHas the characteristics of other Texas survivors.

waterlilydThe dark color foliage might be Potato Vine.  The bright green is Ice Plant and the Red is Oxblood Lily or Schoolhouse Lily (Rhodophiala bifida).

Now to the eye candy.

waterlilyj‘Texas Dawn’ (Nymphaea elegans) is the variety of Water Lily that is native to the area.  It was named the official state water lily in 2011.

Because the Texas lily is so hardy, Dr. Landon cross pollinated it with other lilies for stronger strains.

I don’t know the names of the following varieties.  Just loved the soft colors and different forms.

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waterlilyaThe giant pads are usually from Asia.

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waterlilyA great place to visit even if you think it isn’t your cup of tea.  I don’t plan to have a pond of any sort because it would be an invitation for more wild animal visitors in the yard.  But nature is amazing and can be enjoyed in its many forms.

“Communist until you get rich; feminist until you get married; atheist until the airplane starts falling.”  The Hypocrite Diaries

Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery

In late October we visited the Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery in Cedar Park, which is just north of Austin.  These pictures are not the best because they were taken with my phone.

The giant lily pads were fascinating.  This is a large pond.  We counted only four different lily plants.

I don’t know anything about water-lilies but have looked at pictures online.  These look like Victoria amazonica because the structure and size matches.  The large green leaves that can be up to 9.8 ft. in diameter on a 22 ft. stem or stalk lie flat on the water’s surface.  These actually looked like they were four to five feet wide.  If this is the correct identification, these are named after Queen Victoria.

They don’t look real but definitely are.  Note that each lily pad is attached to a single stem that is grows from a center trunk.

The fish obviously love this pond.

Some of the color variations in the lily pads are due to sun versus shade.

This was an interesting water feature.  The chain and water hose are attached to the trunk of the tree and wrap around the tree branch.  We could not find the water pump.  It may have been buried at the trunk of the tree.

There were all kinds of pots scattered throughout the five acres of this nursery.

The sunlight caught Muhly grass feathers hanging over other plants.

The Plumbago was looking good in this dappled shade.

Whimsical animals brought a sense of fun to the whole area.  There are two white frogs and a metal komodo dragon in this picture.

All kinds of plants, mostly natives or ones that survive well in the area, are displayed and sold.

A smaller type of lily were in about 4′ x 6′ ponds.  I wonder if there are lots of blossoms in the springtime.

These ponds with goldfish and lily pads are so calming and peaceful.  I can see why people want them in their yard.  However, it’s not feasible for us.  We definitely don’t need a magnet for critters.

All things garden are sold here.  In the upper left of the picture, you can see rusty metal gates and doors.   I definitely want to visit in the spring next year.

To a garden lover, hours can be whiled away in this wonderful nursery, http://hillcountrywatergardens.com.

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.”  Anon.