Children’s Area, Lady Bird Center

Since the goal of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to promote water conservation and the use of native plants, much of the area is in its natural state of prairie fields.  That is also true of new Children’s Gardens.

As we enter into the Children’s Gardens, there are several of these curving walls.  I’m not sure what their purpose is.

This berm is covered with native plants, including yuccas, and limestone boulders.  It is the backside of a waterfall.

This walk-through cave like space is definitely meant for kids.  We had to stoop over low to pass through it.

These dinosaur tracks replicate the actual ones found in Glen Rose, Texas.  The Paluxy River contains some of the best preserved tracks in the world.  And there are lots of them.

Cute chairs sized just right for a family.

I have seen these for sale in Austin and have coveted one.  They are pricey, and I can’t justify the cost to myself.

Not sure if these statues are carved from real stones or man-made materials.  The stylized frogs are cute.

A larger frog designed for sitting awhile.

We saw two little girls with miniature watering cans walking around pouring water into these.

I like the Dragonfly bench, too.

Does it bother anyone else that “is” is left out before the word “that”?  Or maybe the true quote had “It is” at the beginning of the sentence.

A perimeter walking trail went around a large mowed field.

Just off the path were bronzes of native animals and birds.  Here a roadrunner has snagged a lizard.

A jackrabbit is posed ready to hop away.

One area had a variety of exercise equipment for “big kids”.

Quails, popular game birds, are perched on a branch.  Real ones hide in tall grasses and can give a person a heart attack when they all fly out just as you reach the area.

The trail leads back to the main part of the Center.  The steeped part of the building behind the trees is an auditorium.

This is the back side of the gift shop.

Even though it’s too early for wildflowers to be blooming, the Center is still worth the time to stroll around.

“One who does nothing but wait for his ship to come has already missed the boat.”  Chinese proverb












Valentine Brunch

There was a Ladies’ Valentine Brunch at church on Saturday the 13th of February.  I was on the planning committee and was the decorator for the event.

brunch2There are many challenges to change our fellowship hall into a space that looks somewhat classy.  First, my sweet husband agreed to bring in the padded chairs from the chapel.  That made a huge difference rather than using the battered, mismatched folding metal chairs.

We also carried out some wall decorations, metal chairs, and other items that were eye sores.

My dear husband helped in so many ways.  It could not have been accomplished without him.

brunchThere is a large window opening into the kitchen, so I used sheers and lights to block out that view and added three arrangements for a little distraction and interest.

Later I noticed the gaps in the curtains and pulled those together.

brunch7Sheers on the windows gave the whole room a softer look.

brunch3There is no budget for such events, so I purchased items that can be used again for another function.  I had sprayed some vases for a previous luncheon, so those were used to hold artificial red and white roses.  Also, I sprayed dried items and and made beaded wires.

The dried items came from my yard, like Red Yucca pods, plus some Yucca pods from the field.  The clusters of seeds came from a small Vitex tree and a Burl Curls bush.  The bushy ends on a stem are dried flowers from Sedum Brilliant.  There are also some stems with dried flower pods from Rose of Sharon bushes.

brunch5Around the vases are paper heart chains. candles, and Bible verse cards.


brunchcThere were five beaded wires in each vase.  On each wire were red, white and silver beads.  No two were alike.  They didn’t show up well in the pictures, so I took a picture of one alone.  I wandered all over the house trying to find a good spot for the photograph but couldn’t find one.  Finally settled on this photo.

brunchaThe serving table is 16 feet long.  Since it is in front of the kitchen window, I moved the larger vase to the corner at the end of the serving line.

The planning committee borrowed dishes from another church and brought flatware from home to make it more special than using paper plates and plastic utensils.  Volunteers washed dishes afterwards.


brunch9This vase was on the drink table.  We found a great punch recipe on the internet.  It’s called Grandma’s punch and was really delicious and was red.

brunchbWe had a duet, a solo, and a short devotional.  Another lady was in charge of the games, which were a big success.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  So the hours of preparation were worth it.

“Three things can’t be hidden: coughing, poverty, and love.”          Yiddish Proverb

Mostly White Blooms

Continuing with my color theme.  These flowers all have white as part of their blooms.

bloomingnowiWhen we dug up this spiky plant from the field, we didn’t think it was a Yucca because the prevalent ones around here have wider and shorter green leaves.

bloomingnow4Since the proof is in the pudding, the flower in spring proved that it was indeed a Yucca.  The reason we had not seen this type blooming in the fields is that the cows probably chomped off the flowers as soon as the buds opened up.

bloomingnow5Their whitish and yellowish cluster is very distinctive.

bloomingnow6This Ornamental Onion plant was bought at a Garden Club plant sale several years ago.

bloomingnoweIts zany pods are actually clusters of individual onion bulbs that can be planted.  Its oniony smell is only noticeable if you brush up against it.

whiteOf all the different color Reblooming Iris in my yard, the white and creamy yellow ones are the only ones that actually do rebloom with any consistency.

flowerbushes6Several years ago I bought a sage (Salvia greggii)  that was labeled Lip Stick.  It has never really done anything and only bloomed the first season.

Then this year on the other side of the yard from that small scrawny bush, flowers on an Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) produced flowers that looked like the Lip Stick one.  I guess that means it is just a mutation.

Flowerbeds7This Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) returns each spring – sometimes in the same place and other times somewhere else in this flowerbed.

The tall plant with red flowers is a Hardy Hibiscus.

Flowerbeds8Guara definitely provides movement in the yard.  The wind blows these delicate flowers on long stems so that it looks like a dreamy dance.

This summer has surprised us all with temperatures still under 100, and it’s the middle of July.  A blessing to be enjoyed daily.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”  Jim Ryun







Natty Flat

Nothing says road trip like a stop at a local attraction.  As a kid, we always headed west for vacations to visit Indian ruins and natural wonders like the Painted Desert.  As we traveled those long, straight highways through sage-strewn flat land, we looked for the huge billboards advertising an Indian Trading Post coming up.  They promised unusual exhibits like dozens of live rattlesnakes or the real saddle of some famous outlaw.

In reality, it was a tourist trap full of trinkets probably made in some factory back east.  But we loved the chance to get out of the car and spend the allowance money we had been saving, taking lots of time to wander the aisles and look at everything.

nattyflat9Natty Flat is not exactly that sort of tourist place.  It started out as a small Barbeque restaurant and a store to sell western goods.  Those are not cheap trinkets, either.

Two brothers were ingenious in combining several talents for this enterprise.  One owns the restaurant, where the BBQ really is outstanding.  The other runs the store, which sells furniture as well as other western goods.  He also makes most of the furniture.  The over sized rifle in the picture is one of his creations.  It has already been sold so don’t hanker for it.

nattyflat8Red cedar, which is plentiful in the area, provides the materials needed for his craft.

nattyflat7This rocking chair is the main landmark for Natty Flat.  The telephone pole gives prospective for its height.

nattyflat6 Throw in a little western decor and it draws the people in.

nattyflat3Behind the windmill is the store.

nattyflat5They do a good job of putting a few brightly colored annuals to add more interest.  The Prickly Pear Cactus blooms also pop.

nattyflat4Petunias make this water trough attractive.

nattyflatThe owners’ sense of humor is evident in several places.  The above sign is hard to read, so here goes:

This rock never fails.  It’s 100% correct.
Here’s how it works.
If it’s wet, it’s raining.
If it’s dry, there’s fair weather.
If it’s dusty, there’s a dust storm
If it’s white, it’s snowing.
If it’s swaying, it’s windy.
If there’s a shadow under the rock, it’s sunny.
If you can’t see it, it’s foggy.
If it’s jumping up and down, there’s an earthquake.
If the bottom is under water, it’s a flood.
If it’s dry and still, just wait a minute, and it will change.
If everything is moving and you’re not, you’re drunk.


nattyflat1These really are the restrooms for the restaurant.  But they are not the traditional holes of an outhouse.  Just a modern day toilet inside.

Note the pretty Yucca blooms beside it.  Flowers make anything look good.

nattyflataAmong Purple Sage, Prickly Pear, and a dying cedar is an old decaying wagon.

nattyflatbRusty metal and Prickly Pear is the perfect depiction of West Texas.

See more at Natty Flat.  It’s just south of I 20 at the Stephenville exit.  I think it’s worth a stop, especially for the grub.

“Keep away from folks who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”  Mark Twain

Is It Really Spring?

130 miles south of here it sure looks like spring has arrived.  On Sat. we drove to Austin where Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes were blooming in great abundance along the roadsides.  The state highway department seeded heavily in the Austin area.  The consistently warm weather and some rains in that area has provided green trees and some flowers.

mayfieldpark3As we stepped out of the parking lot at Mayfield Park, a patch of Bluebonnets greeted us.

mayfieldparkThe high pitched “Help Me, Help Me” of the peacocks can be heard throughout the park.  They have free roam and don’t even seem to notice all the people walking around.

mayfieldpark2I wondered if this peacock and the squirrel would react to one another, but they just kept to their own business.   Obviously, their meeting was old hat to them.  Ho, hum, boring.

mayfieldpark4Beside the parking lot was this small Redbud tree.  They are seeded by birds and spring up just about anywhere.

mayfieldpark5These native Giant Spiderworts (Tradescantia gigantea) are so pretty.  Last year I planted one but it didn’t bloom; maybe it will this year.

mayfieldpark8Mine was planted in full sun.  These are partly shaded.

mayfieldpark7First, we walked through the nature area with many different kinds of native trees.  This bunch of plants with the tiny white flowers was eye catching.

mayfieldpark6It’s probably a plant that only grows in shade.  And that, I don’t have.

mayfieldpark9Many of the trees leaned with crooked and twisted shapes.

mayfieldpark10This lavender clusters of flowers were growing on a small tree.

mayfieldpark11Could it be a fruit producing plant?  Loved the butterfly.

mayfieldpark12Growing on the edge of a drop off, this bush or small tree was covered with blooms.

mayfieldpark13I think this is a Rusty Blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum) which usually grows as an understory tree but can grow in full sun.

mayfieldpark14This unusual tree had the oddest leaves at the end of the branches.

mayfieldpark15Looking up, I wondered if those were the leaves or if it was a fungus that had killed the real leaves.

mayfieldpark16Another mystery.

mayfieldpark17This tree looks like it’s growing out of a rock, but it must be connected to the tree on the left.

mayfieldpark18This city park was a residence at one time.  The whole neighborhood is on the edge of Lake Austin.  This property seems to back up to an inlet of the lake.

mayfieldpark19Coming out of the wooded area, this stand of yuccas are in full bloom.  The ones further north are not even close to blooming yet.  What a difference a few degrees of latitude make.

mayfieldpark20A big area of native wildflowers beside the yuccas.

mayfieldpark21A bed next to the parking lot that also contains native plants.

On my next post, I’ll show the area inside the yard of the house area.

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Among the Rocks and Weeds

Now that the weather has jumped almost overnight from spring temperatures to summer ones, there are two times of day for activities outside.  One is early morning and the other is just before the sun sets.  If I do any gardening, it’s in the a.m.  Then we take out daily constitutional in the evening.  The following pictures were taken during an early evening walk.

verbenarocksJust love the way these Prairie Verbena look among the white caliche rocks.

pincushion4All my life I’ve heard the term Pincushion Cactus for this low growing, almost flush against the ground cactus.  But I can’t find that name in my books or on-line.  I do find Claret Cup or Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) which looks similar.  That may even be the correct name.

pincushion5If you have not searched the internet for types of cactus lately, you’d be amazed at how many different varieties there are.

pincushion3Since these Pincushion Cactus grow so low and are among many types of weeds, there are difficult to see.  The bright red fruit is what catches your eye.

pincushionLooks like strawberries in a basket, but too prickly to touch.

yuccaThis type of yucca never seems to have a stalk with blooms.  They grow close together, colony style.

indianblanketThis Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) doesn’t have much of a yellow tip on the petals like most do.  If it did, it would be obvious how they got their nickname.   They resemble the color and weave of the old hand-woven American Indian blankets.

I wonder if hand-woven blankets are still being created.

coreopsisbushI think this is a Thelesperma (Thelesperma filifolium).  But it could be a Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria).

yellowdaisyThis “stand up straight” stance gives a perky hello.

At this time of the year, it’s still possible to take an evening stroll without smothering heat.  One can enjoy the scenery, mostly without sweating.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that do.”  Unknown

Shades of Red

The primary colors are a feast for my eyes.  As they say on TV decorating programs, “The bright colors will pop against the backgrounds.”  These reds do jump out and grab you.

redyuccaThe Red Yuccas (Hesperaloe parviflora) are just starting to bloom.  And they do pop against the green of the grass and shrubs and the blue of the sky.  Their form also is eye catching.

Red Yuccas are native to Central and West Texas.  They flower from late spring through early autumn.

yuccaflowerNot only are they pretty, but yuccas are hardy and extremely drought tolerant. Plus they survive freezing temperatures.  The flower stalk dies, leaving a striking skeletal shape with large seed pods opened like a flower for the winter.  Red Yuccas are one care free plant.   In recent years, they are the hot new item in landscaping.  It’s like they’ve just been discovered.

yuccabeeThe buzzing of bees add to the viewing experience.  These are probably honeybees.  The hummingbirds love to feed from them, too.

poinsettia6Okay.  I did say that I was definitely not going to keep the Poinsettias after January.  But they just keep surviving.  While they are still red, how could I trash them?  Let’s see how long they last outside and in the heat.

poinsettia5This will be a school science experiment.

xmascactusThe last bloom of the Christmas Cactus dropped a few weeks ago.

redbudpodsRust red seed pods of the native Redbud trees look redder from the road.

kolanche2The clusters of this particular Kolache  is not the usual rounded form of most varieties.

yuccabee2One parting shot of a bee enjoying the nectar of a Red Yucca.

Sometimes it’s hard to choose one’s favorite color of flowers.  But you don’t have to.  I  love red ones, yellow ones, purple ones, etc.

“How would you like a job where when you made a mistake, a big red light comes on and 18,000 people boo?”  Jacques Plante, Canadian ice hockey goaltender

Tall and Striking

There are several plants that shout southwest to me.  One of them is the Yucca.  Having been around them all my life, I have always them for granted.  Lately, their beauty has caught my eye.

It surprises me to learn that they grow in so many different environments – rocky deserts, prairies, mountains, grasslands, coastal sands, and woodlands.

yucca4“It is nearly impossible for the amateur to distinguish between the species (of yuccas).” according to Texas Wildflowers by Campbell and Lynn Boughmiller.  That sounded like a challenge to me.  But after reading several different sources, I concede that they are probably right.

yuccaIt’s wild how they can hug the embankment beside the road, leaning over and top heavy.

yucca3The late afternoon sun gives their creamy color a yellow cast.

yucca5Yuccas have a specialized pollination system.  Yucca moths transfer the pollen from the stamen of one plant to the stigma of another plant.  Then they lay an egg in the flower.  The resulting moth larva feeds on the developing seeds.  This is where it gets crazy:  they leave enough seeds to perpetuate the species.  What?  They just get full before the seed supply ends?  I know, I know – DNA.

This symbiotic relationship is estimated to have been around for 40 million years.

queenanne2Queen Anne’s Lace or Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) is from the parsley family.  Its taproot can be cooked and eaten.  Queen Anne’s Lace is considered a weed because they spread rapidly.  That’s why they cover large areas beside the roadways.

queenanne5Legend says that Queen Anne, the wife of King James I of England was challenged to create lace as beautiful as a flower.  The picture of the British queen with the high lace collar that has always been in my mind is not Anne, atfter all.

maryqueenofscots2 But rather, Mary, Queen of Scots.  Also, known as Bloody Mary.  So much for my logic about the origin of this plant.  But the image of the intricate lacework still lingers every time I think of Queen Anne’s Lace flowers.

Bold stands the yuccas with their masses of flowers in the wild.  While the delicate Queen Anne’s Lace provides a blanket of white as traffic speeds along.  Close inspection shows the delicate clusters of tiny flowers.

“Love is like wildflowers; it’s often found in the most unlikely places.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson