A Little Rain, Please

A brief shower does wonders for the land and for our morale.  We had two quick rains within a week.  Both of them together did not add up to an inch.  But as a result of a little rain, the temperatures are cooler and water from the sky perks everything up.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is drooping a little from the heat and isn’t blooming as much as earlier.   It’s native to southeastern US and to Texas.  One of it’s other names is Texas Mallow.  It’s a hardy perennial, even in our clay soil.

It looks like it would be difficult to get nectar from the tight blooms, but bees manage very well.

The plant dies down to the ground in the winter.  In the spring, it’s a beauty.

This Prairie Sage was planted 6 years ago, and I don’t remember where I got it.  It may be Artemisia ludoviciana, but it doesn’t look like the pictures I found on the internet.

It does spread by rhizomes but not aggressively.  Its lacy look provides a nice silvery accent in the yard.

After being in full sun all summer, these Purple Fountain Grasses (Pennisetum setaceum “Rubrum”) have lost their purple color in the plumes and foliage.

I don’t buy many annuals but consider these worth the cost.  These came in small pots.  It’s interesting that the far one did not grow as tall or full as they usually do.

This metal Roadrunner is stuck into the ground in front of a concrete planner.  Metalbird company started in New Zealand, but has an American branch.

Ixora is a tropical plant from Asia.  I’ve had one in a pot for about 18 years, which has become pretty root bound.  So I purchased another small plant.

The flowers are so pretty.  In Asia it’s grown in full sun, but here in Texas, my pots receive some sun, but not all day.  Our Death Star tends to burn leaves.

Purple Shamrock Plant or Oxalis (Oxalis regnellii) is also called Wood Sorrel.  It’s looking pretty sad at the end of the season.  The flowers are pale pink.  This one has been in this pot for many, many years and should probably be repotted into a larger pot.

Mine gets filtered light and is taken inside during the winter.  The green leafed Oxalis is considered a weed by some people, especially in the lawn.  I don’t think I would mind that.

Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is another plant that needs an upgrade in pot size.  Native to South Africa, it can grow to be a large 10 ft. tall shrub there.  I’ve tried it in full sun but seems to do better in filtered or morning light.

Hope you are getting some relief from the summer heat.

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”  E. B. White

Last Look at Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

If you visit gardens when you travel, new plants, new gardening designs, and new treats accumulate up in your mind and enrich your life.

Speaking of new plants, this one with trailing stems and tiny flowers intrigued me.

In the center of a small butterfly house sits this child enjoying the delight of those amazing creatures.  The plants and butterflies were sparse, so I don’t know if this structure is new or being renovated.

Another unknown plant – the spiky flowers made me wonder if it’s in the celosia family.

Dragon’s Breath Celosia with its strong red color in the leaves and tall brilliant red plumes demands attention in any garden.  In areas colder that zones 10 and 1I, it’s an annual.

This celosia requires full sun and some regular moisture.  It will become a tall plant with a commanding presence.  Plus, it reseeds easily.

This may inspire children to do a somersault.  Or maybe, some younger, limber adults.

I’m a recent convert to using grasses in the landscape.  Their movement and rustle in the wind soothes the soul.  Think this is Maiden Grass.  Gorgeous.

Ahh – sweet

I want some of these wooden trellis obelisks.  Who wouldn’t?

The flowers look like Netleaf Leather Clematis but I’m not sure.

Gardens provide a perfect vacation activity.  Some people may question this statement, but I’m guessing, that if you’re reading this, you will agree wholeheartedly.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  Blessings to you for this special holiday time of the year.

“Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.”  Ben Franklin

Relaxing Garden

It was a quiet morning at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.  We almost had the garden to ourselves.

Clever set of benches built into a pergola type cover that leads into the central part of the garden.

To me, the bronze statues of children was as strong an attraction as the shrubs and flowers.  Early October was still warm enough for Begonias and other flowering plants.

Angel Wing Begonias, named for the shape of their leaves, is a hardy hybrid.  Seeds from the annual Flamingo Celosia (Celosia spicata) must be saved in order to propagate it.  Mine never looked this bright and healthy.

Same group of plants with some Lantana added.   This one looks like Lil Miss Lantana, but it could be another hybrid.

Many garden designers suggest that it’s best to stick to the same plants throughout the garden.  I don’t personally agree, but the bright colors were nice.  I like to see plants that surprise me.

This new display is a little difficult to comprehend.  This is a giant butterfly.  The wings will probably be planted with colorful flowers in the spring.  The standing metal part in the center is the actual body of the butterfly.  Looks like it’s intended to be viewed from above.

Nice calming stream.

If this is man-made, lots of boulders had to brought in.

It’s hard not to feel the joy of a child experiencing this garden.  Sure made me smile.

The only other people we encountered in the gardens were mothers with young children and babies in strollers.  What a perfect way to expose your children to nature.

Loved the form of this Japanese Thundercloud Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Thunderhead’).  It’s obvious to see how it got its name.

The only indications that it was Autumn were the cool morning and the Ornamental Cabbages and dried grasses.

Next post will be the last one on the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”  Peter Marshall

Gardens in Victoria

This is the last post about the Master Gardener demonstration garden in Victoria near the coast in southeast Texas.

Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) blazes that bright orange color that screams hot climate.  Information indicates that it can grow in zones 8 and 9.

However, I have one in a pot that must be carried into a shed for the winter.  It takes it a long time to recover each summer.  So I think zone 8 is stretching it.

But what a fabulous flower color.

Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenvergia dumosa) is an interesting shrub with loose, draping branches.  It also requires a mild winter.

Crimson Pirate Daylily is one of my favorites.  Pretty spider shape, not too tall and brilliant color.

This garden is impressive in so many ways.  First, there are hundreds of different kinds of plants.  It is well organized and neat.  These gardeners also have so much creativity.

The queen butterfly is one of our most prominent butterflies.  This clever one is made from a section of heating vent.

There are also lots of structures that draw one into the garden.  The mesh building in the far right upper corner of this picture is an enclosed butterfly walk-in area.

Many Texans consider the welfare of Monarch Butterflies to be part of their responsibility since their migration path comes straight from Mexico through Texas.  Milkweed plants are vital for their survival because it’s the only plant where they lay their eggs and the only food source for their caterpillars. Milkweed mostly grows in uncultivated land areas.  But now, many homeowners grow it in their yards.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is one food source for Swallowtail butterflies.

This looks like it could be in the Scabosia family.  But I don’t know what it is and would love to find out.

Absolutely stunning.

There is an area that has small gardens donated by individuals or with specific themes.

While in Victoria, we also visited the city’s rose garden.  The layout is wonderful with paved pathways and excellent structures.  Since I’ve seen pictures of this online with mature bushes, I’m guessing that it was wiped out by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and has recently rebuilt.

A few large bushes survived.

Also read that the city accepted rose bush donations to plant.  My only complaint about this garden is that there were no ID tags to name the roses.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”  J.M. Barrie

Passalong Plants

Winter is the perfect time to read gardening books.  Someone at a gardening conference recommended the following book to me.

This one was definitely worth the read.  It’s informative and humorous.  Two authors alternate writing the chapters.  If you read ‘Southern Living’, you’re familiar with Steve Bender’s gardening column.  The other author is Felder Rushing who has written numerous books and speaks frequently on the garden conference circuit.

Old plants that have been grown in the south for generations and passed along to family and friends is the subject of the book.  They explain growing conditions and how to propagate each plant.  This Spider Flower, or Cat’s Whiskers (Cleome hasselrana) reseeds freely.  So it’s easy to passalong either seeds or new plants.

“A word of advice to the novice – Cleome, particularly early in the season before flowering, looks suspiciously like marijuana.  Expect quizzical looks, and be prepared to explain.”  F. Rushing

“People give plants the dumbest names.  Just because individual flowers on the long stems of Physostegia have hinged joints and remain pointing in whatever position they’re bullied into by your finger, the plant has come to be called Obedience.  Well, don’t be fooled by this tame title…In moist soil, it’s so invasive that it actually seems to thrive on being brutally rogued.”  F. Rushing

That’s probably true, but I don’t have moist soil, so it spreads very slowly here.

“For all you fern aficionados out there who fancy yourselves experts on the subject, here’s a litmus test for you – are you familiar with Southern  Shield fern (Thelypteris kunthi)?”  S. Bender

It’s also sold as Wood Fern.  I am very happy with mine.  But, with our clay soil and dry climate, it doesn’t spread easily.

“I looked out my window the other morning and saw a troop of naked Ladies gracing my garden.  Don’t get excited – these weren’t dedicated sun worshipers or buxom starlets filming a B movie on location.  Instead, they were the surprising flowers of Lycoris.”     S. Bender

They’re also called magic lilies.  The most popular naked ladies here are Red Spider Lilies (Lycpros radiata).

“All of these Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckias) are easy to pass along.  Save seed or let them self-sow and transplant seedlings.  I always propagate it by dividing clumps in late winter or early spring.  Just lift a clump with a garden fork and pull the roots apart.”      S. Bender

The last chapter in the book focuses on the Southern habit of using yard art.  It’s titled “Well, I Think it’s Pretty.”

“Of course, most educated people consider such displays to be tacky.  But there are a couple of things wrong with this generalization.  First, you don’t have to be Southern to enjoy classic yard art.  Second, art is in the eye of the artist.  Who’s to judge what is good taste and what is bad?”

Although, I don’t know for sure, but I’d guess that F. Rushing wrote that.  He presented at a conference I attended in the fall and showed his own yard.  He’s a zany comic and his yard art supports that.

“Painted crown tires benefit society beyond just being vernacular art.  For one thing, they recycle old rubber and are good for the environment.  And they’re funny – they give us a good laugh.”  F. Rushing

In their travels across the south, each author has visited many gardens, public and private, and collected many pictures of plants and yard art.  They are knowledgeable about their subject.

This is a fun book that is easy to read and provides helpful information.

“You don’t need a Ph.D., horticultural library, or yardman to belong to the Passalong Club.  All that’s required is a piece of earth and a generous heart.  In fact, you’ve probably been a charter member for years without realizing it.”  Passalong Plants

Back to the Rose Emporium

This post continues with our last visit to the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham.  Although I have lots of favorite nurseries, this one is probably at the top of the list.

We arrived early before our meeting to wander around the grounds.  It was foggy and the camera lens kept fogging up, but it created a mystical look to some of the pictures.

This bottle tree made my husband suggest that we do a Dr. Pepper tree, which is his drink of choice.

This looks like a sage, but I’m not sure.

Little touches here and there make this a unique nursery.  I consider it an idea place to inspire gardeners.

Often, gardeners overlook the cheap plants, like Zinnias.  A packet of seeds can provide a whole season of brightly colored flowers.  Behind the Zinnias are some Potato Vines.  Although they are annuals, it’s not too expensive to cover a good sized space because they grow fast and spread out.

Cute flower pot man.  Probably has rods through the legs to hold it up.

This is a cheap way to erect an arch.  The wire fencing needs something steady, like the wooden fence to give it strength.  Also, some kind of tree has been trained over the wiring, so it would be strong.

Really like the row of these arches over a pathway.  Antique roses give it a classical look.

This smiling face makes me smile.  Wouldn’t have thought to put it in a birdbath.

Pink Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii,) was hybridized by Greg Grant in honor of his friend Pam Puryear.  She was an avid plant lover who went rose rustling with him.

A hiss can almost be heard from this arched back cat.

Salvia Greggii White Autumn Sage is not seen as often as the red flowered ones.  It has the same wonderful scent and is a refreshing change.

Cute little green house that would be a great backyard addition.

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses.”           William Arthur Ward

Cafe at the Ridge Gardens, Part 2

Lots of creativity in the gardens at the Ridge.

Displays on the long porch outside the Cafe include this old wash tub with an interesting mixture of succulents.

Not sure what the original purpose of this long wooden container was.  Looks old.  Anyone know?

Not a big fan of pink flamingos in the yard, especially in Texas.  But these glass ones are classier than the plastic ones usually seen.

Drawing a blank on this flower identification.  Anyone?

The gift shop was originally built as a storage building.

The gift shop displays some of its wares on the porch.  Cute chubby bumble bee.

Another building contains potting soils, fertilizers, etc.  I’ve been trying to figure out what the sign was painted on.  Looks like a hood but is tapered too much – maybe a race car.

Even a pile of rocks (which Central Texas has plenty of) can be spruced up.

An old colander makes a nifty planter.  Vincas or Periwinkles are a great annual for our hot summers.   They are so bright and cheery.

Old tire is considered a hillbilly planter of choice.  But it certainly has character.  This one has Bat-face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea Flamenco Samba), some Petunias, and Blackfoot Daisy.  Don’t know what the small purple flowers are.

Really sturdy and heavy picnic tables.

The grass is artificial.  We were told that liquids penetrate it, and that it is strong and long lasting.

Plenty of pots and succulents to choose from.

I was fascinated by these posts for the outside patio.

These tree trunks serve a purpose.

Molded to look like tree trunks, they are coolers to ice drinks for a gathering outside.

This has a Spanish mission look to me.  Very southwestern.

In the spaces between the flagstones, small succulents have been planted close to the edge of the walkway.  Lil Miss Lantana on the right with its pink blooms loves Texas sun.

Don’t know if this wishing well is a true well or not.  But it is iconic for garden lovers.

Birdbath makes a perfect miniature succulent garden.

Another old wash tub.  They’re hard to find without paying an arm and a leg for them.

Check out counter for garden purchases.

Just like at the grocery store checkout, before you pay out, more items to tempt you. Unusual containers that are already filled make it easy to take home a completed pot.

On the left is a Thorn of Crowns plant without the thorns.  So beautiful that I couldn’t resist.

Have an old broken mixer or one you don’t use?  Make it a planter.  Great imagination.

Great place to visit, especially for gardeners.

“You know you are a gardener when everything you see becomes a planter.”  unknown

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Cafe at the Ridge Garden Vignettes

Our Master Gardeners Club took a day trip last week to the Kerrville area.  Our first stop was Café at the Ridge outside of town.  Originally it was called Roadkill Cafe.  About 12 years ago a new owner renovated it and put in a bakery, a garden, a nursery, and a gift shop.

Immediately I knew I would love this place.

Usually, whiskey barrels are cut in half for a flower pot.  This arrangement of three different ways to use the barrels make them much more unique.

Behind the railing is the porch area for the cafe.  We ate a delicious lunch there.

The wood is mesquite, which is expensive because it takes a long time for trunks to get large.

The pot on the left contains a Hardy Hibiscus.  Behind that is Dusty Miller with its lacy gray leaves.  On the right are some Daylilies and mystery yellow flowers.

This picture is to show the use of a broken pot.  In the center, surrounded by Begonias is a large pot that has parts of the pot stuck in the remaining large section.  There is also a bright blue pot placed inside.

Even though I like yard art, I don’t care for the hanging sunflower circles.

Another reconstructed clay pot contains plants and a fairy garden.

Unusual.

Lots of brightly colored pots for sale.

The theme of the garden seemed to be:  use as many unique items as flower pots as possible.  Here, old chest drawers were attached to legs and hold Foxtail Fern, Woodland Fern, and Begonias.  Not sure about the dark leafed plant.

A concrete basket contains Dusty Miller, Pentas, and maybe Penstemon.

A seesaw for adults

I’m always on the look out for old metal cars.  So far, no luck or they are too costly.

The round plaque would be nicer if it were more legible.

I actually have an old enamel pot that I need to drill holes in so it can be a planter.

The plant in the large pot looks like a Mexican Flame Vine (Pseudogynosux chenpodiodes) and the purple leafed one behind it is Princess Caroline Napier Grass, which is a Texas Super Star plant.

Because the Mexican Flame Vine is zone 9 -10, I have to move it into the shed for winter.  I bought it at a garden club sale in Waco but didn’t realize it was too tropical for here.  But it is beautiful.

Even old tires can become planters.  Not sure how they folded the tire back after cutting the zigzags.

A word about yard art.  This place has an overabundance of it.  But they are selling plants, pots, yard art, and suggesting ways to use plants.

The “tea and brie” set look down their noses at yard art.  But it can be used effectively.  First, one should see and enjoy the plants.  Then, wandering through the garden, one should encounter pleasant surprises that makes one smile, such as yard art.

In the city, that can be more challenging because of yard space, and because  some community rules prevent it.  But enjoy it when you can.

Lamb’s Ear in front.  The bedstead in the back has been turned into a plant protector.  In the center is a wire grid tepee that can be covered with plastic to shade plants from the sun.

Note the posts for this porch – cages filled with chunks of glass.

This picture was taken to show the Bottle Tree.  Haven’t seen one with that shaped frame.

I was enamored with this place, so lots of pictures.  Next post will continue with more from this nursery.

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Tin Man Wind Chime

This project has been on my mind since last October when I saw a tin man hanging in a tree at the Garden of Eden.  Someone in my house considers it a hair brained idea.  Wonder who?

The one part that I thought that I could not obtain was the large can for the body.  Then I was helping with a meal at church where several industrial size cans of vegetables were opened, and voila, I had what I needed.  If it’s available, a larger can might be better.

This is my finished product.  The size of cans I used:

Spacer can on top of head to hold up funnel:  8 ounce (tomato sauce)
Head:  29 ounce  (fruit)
Body:  6 lbs. 10 ounce (vegetables)
Upper arm:  21 ounce (pie filling)
Lower arm: 15 ounce ((fruit)
Hand: lid
Upper leg:  28 ounce (beans)                                                                                          Lower leg:  15 ounce (fruit)                                                                                                  Feet: 3.75 ounce (Sardines)  We don’t eat sardines, but they are good food for Crape Myrtles.

The metal funnel was ordered from Amazon.  I searched for the lowest price on several sites.  This one was just over $7 with free shipping.

Cotton rope (probably 1/2″) to hang tin man.

Tools:  drill used for holes in cans, 17 gauge galvanized wire to tie cans together, wire cutters and needle nose pliers to reach into cans and bend wire, small washers to keep wire in place.

Also, need tin snips to cut nose.  We used part of an old hose to fit over a tree branch to keep the rope from fraying.

Now I will attempt to explain the construction.

First, drill holes in cans.  Sometimes I had to do some back tracking because my plan didn’t work.  For instance, in this body can, the wire seen here was to hang both legs.  That didn’t work out.  An individual wire was better for each leg.  So another hole had to be drilled on each side in the groove beside where the wire pictured goes into the can.

Put facial features on.  Drill holes needed for eyes, nose, and mouth.  I used metal buttons for the eyes and a pop top can lid for the nose.  Cut the lid in a somewhat triangular shape with tin snips and bend with the needle nose pliers.

Just twist the wires together on the inside of the can to hold each feature in place.

For the mouth I used some old insulated copper wire.  That was just bent flat on the inside.

Another piece of wire was used to hold bottom of nose in place.

After finishing the face can, rope was threaded down into the funnel.  After slipping on a washer, tie a knot in the rope.  I then hooked a wire into the washer and bent it and twisted it.

That wire was long enough to go through the hole in the spacer can and be tied off in the head can.

Then another wire went across the top of the head can and into holes and pulled through.

At first, I used the bottom part of artificial flowers instead of washers.  Either one will work.  This shows the head can with the long wires that will go into the body and tied off.

Next prepare arms that will be attached to body.  Note the two holes on top of the arms.  The wire will come up and over and back into can.

This drawing also shows how the arms are constructed.  It is better to start with the bottom can first and go up through the top of the arm and put the wire back down into that can.  Then attach the hand with a lid that fits inside that bottom can.

I tried going from top to bottom first, but it was impossible to tie off the wire in the smaller can at the bottom.

The legs are made the same way as the arms.

Attach feet on both sides of the bottom can.  Holes were drilled into bottom of shoes so that rain water will drain out.

We hung the tin man in a Hackberry because it was at the back of the yard away from bedroom windows.  If it rattles a lot, then it wouldn’t disturb anyone’s sleep.  It won’t matter if some smaller branches are broken.  Hackberries are considered trash trees by some people, but I think it is a great shade tree.

Finally, we attached a rope from the body to another branch to keep it steady and always facing the same direction.

If anyone decides to make a tin man, it is easier to have another person help at some stages of putting it together, like holding assembled pieces still as others are added.

Hope this is not confusing but helpful.

“Common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in every everyone’s yard.” unknown

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Burma Shave Signs

Anyone remember Burma-Shave signs?  Okay.  You have to be of a certain age.  As a kid, the signs were a highlight for driving trips through West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  If you’ve ever driven that way, you know how barren the landscape is.

The Burma-Shave company made shaving cream and came up with a unique advertising campaign along American highways.  The signs were displayed from 1927 to 1963.  At that time, most families drove for vacations and visits to relatives.

After we moved from the Ft. Worth/Dallas area out to the country, I heard a slogan that matched my sentiments about our decision.  So we decided to duplicate the Burma-Shave type of signs.

We put up signs along the road from the front gate to the gate to the house area.

The original signs rhymed.  Example:   “A shave / That’s real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel / Burma-Shave.”

Another example:  “Half a pound / For / Half a dollar / At the drug store / Simple holler / Burma-Shave.”

As you can tell, these pictures were taken in the spring time.

While signs on posts more closely matched the Burma-Shave signs, those were quickly knocked over by cows.  So now the signs are nailed to trees along the route.

Small or large, they tend to trample whatever is in their path.

When the popularity of the signs grew, the Burma-Shave company offered annual contests for new sayings and gave prizes of $100 for winners.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  C. S. Lewis

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