Monday, December 17, 2012

Lost & Found

Since we have had a couple hard freezes recently, there is not a whole lot of color to be found in my garden this month.  So I thought I'd share some pictures from our recent trip to Lost Maples State Natural Area in the Texas hill country.

 Lost Maples State Natural Area is located in Vanderpool, Texas, and contains the state's largest stand of Bigtooth Maples east of the Guadalupe Mountains.

We found the maples.
We found fall color.

Bigtooth Maples (Acer grandidentatum)

I think we missed peak color by about a week, but it was still very pretty.  Now granted, those of you in the northern US are probably scoffing at what we call fall color, but in Texas we take what we can get.

The beautiful blue skies just made the fall colors all the more spectacular.

Sycamores are sometimes mistaken for maples.   Their leaf is a similar shape but much larger than the Bigtooth Maples in the area.

The hiking was not for sissies!  Some of the rocky grades were very steep.   
Did I mention we were in the HILL country?

When we stopped from time to time to catch our lost breath, we found these cute little lizards scurrying around.

The view we found when we reached the top at 2200 feet made it all worthwhile. Some of the views had me wondering if we had gotten lost and wandered out of Texas.

We found creeks and ferns ...
... and ponds

And, of course, my favorite ... rocks.

On one diversion off the main hiking trail we found ...
... The Monkey Rock!

Look familiar?

We found some of the tree limbs were covered with ball moss
(Tillandsia recurvata)

Ball moss is a small epiphyte that clings to the limbs of live oaks and other trees in southwest Texas.  It is a member of the bromeliad family and a relative of Spanish moss.  Since ball moss does not take nutrients and water from the trees, it is not a parasite.

Speaking of balls, here is my husband's idea of fall color in the hill country.
Greens and white.
 He has been known to lose a few of these little white balls in the sea of green from time to time.

Back home I found a little bit of maple color, as well, but with our very dry and very warm autumn, the maples lost their colorful display all too quickly.

Like I say, in Texas we take what we can get.  

Wherever you live, I hope you find some time this holiday season to get lost in nature's beauty.

Toni :-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Another date must be recognized
It's not something we can shelve
Month, day, and year the same once more
For today is Twelve-Twelve-Twelve

Last year had Eleven-Eleven-Eleven
and before that Ten-Ten-Ten
Repeats of other special dates
Centuries of years back when  

Since we don't have a 13th month
Next year this phenomenon is done
That is until 89 years from now
On January 1, 2101

To celebrate, we could plant dozens of bulbs
or maybe pull dozens of weeds
Or look through dozens of catalogs
and order up dozens of seeds

Or maybe it's time for a little N-P-K
time to spread some 12-12-12
But whatever we do to commemorate this day
In the dirt of our gardens let's delve

Happy Gardening this 12th day of December 2012  

Toni :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What's Bloomin' - September 2012

We've had a few gloriously wet, dreary days here in north central Texas.  Glorious and dreary may seem to be a contradiction in terms, but after a hot, dry Texas summer, a few days of wet and dreary is pretty glorious :-)

Here's a look at what's blooming in my garden this month.

Against the bold backdrop of 'King Humbert' Canna, my favorite perennial Salvia greggii is starting to put on its autumn show.  'Karley Rose' Fountain Grass adds wispy texture.

The bright red color of a volunteer Salvia coccinea pops against the sea of blue 'Henry Duelberg' Salvia.   I love free plants, especially when they grow in just the right spot :-)  These red tubular blooms are hummer magnets, too (sorry I'm not quick enough to get a picture).

And more Salvia greggii, violet this time.   
The 'Regal Mist' Muhly Grass (lower left) is just starting to plume.

More free plants, 
the annual Melampodium reseeds here and there in my garden
 and is always welcome.

Here the Melampodium popped up near 'Helen von Stein' Lamb's Ear.   In the upper left side is a tiny remnant of 'Autumn Fire' Sedum trying to bloom.   Try as I might, 'Autumn Joy/Fire' Sedum just does not grow well in my garden.

The lone rose in my garden ('Knock-Out') does seem to be happy in this spot. 
It anchors the corner by the driveway.

Below the 'Knock-Out' Rose, I grow 'Azure Skies' Heliotrope and Zexmenia.  These two plants don't photograph very well, but they are two of the toughest plants I have in my garden, blooming nonstop even in the hottest of summers.

Rudbeckia 'Triloba' brightens up a partially shady spot under my 'Fire Dragon' Shantung Maple tree.   Another bulletproof plant, Purple Heart, sprawls below.

Here are some wider shots of the front perennial beds.

Moving to the backyard...

Garlic Chives are blooming along the flagstone walk to the backyard.    I am planning to transplant some of these to areas where I am currently growing daylilies.   Since the foliage looks similar, I am hoping it will blend in with the daylily fans and will add some fall blooms to areas where the daylilies only bloom spring and summer.   I'll let you know how it works out next fall.

One of the mainstays of my shady backyard is native, fall-blooming Turk's Cap.   I have Spanish Bluebell bulbs planted below for spring color.   In other areas, I inter-plant with 'Texas Gold' Columbine for spring blooms.

'African Blue' Basil.  If you plant it, they will come.    Bees, that is.

Hummingbirds love the tubular blooms of the 'Black & Blue' Salvia (Salvia guaranitica)

Annual Pentas are ready for the butterflies

Even the unassuming Variegated Liriope is getting in on the fall show

Fresh raindrops still on its petals, the Rain Lily lives up to its name :-)

And as we leave the backyard, you can see that the Hyacinth Bean Vine has completely covered the new arbors we had built this spring.

I hope you have enjoyed this tour of September blooms in my garden.   

Want to see more blooms?  Visit May Dreams Gardens

Toni :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

North Shore Memories

On vacation this summer, we stayed at a cabin on Caribou Lake along the North Shore area of Minnesota.  Here's the view from the dock where we watched the sunset every evening and felt the cool breezes blow and heard the call of loons in the distance.    And I bid farewell to my 40s.

I greeted my 50s with a hike to waterfalls at Cascade River State Park.  The water is the color of root beer because of the minerals in the soil and decaying vegetation.

I saw this wildflower all over the North Shore area.

I believe this is called Fireweed (Epilobium angustofolium)

I am not sure what this groundcover is called, but the bright red berries caught my eye as we walked along the trail.

Update: Bunchberry (cornus canadensis)

I had to stop and pet the moss because it fascinates me.   You don't see a lot of moss growing in Texas in the middle of August!

I know this picture does not do it justice, but I tried to capture the beauty of the peeling bark of the white birch trees along the trails.

I call this next picture "Growth Through Adversity"

We all encounter hard places in our lives.   We can only hope that we grow through them and in the end we stand tall and strong, right?

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge
Psalm 18:2

For you have been rooted in Him 
and are being built up and strengthened in the faith 
Colossians 2:7

This old spruce tree was a little large in its midsection, and through the years it has grown a few more lumps and bumps.

H'm...come to think of it, 
that's just about how my 50-year-old body feels right now :-)

These large trunk nodules are called burls

Even the golf course was beautiful,
with rolling hills, rivers, boulders, and trees.

And flowers, of course.

These simple yellow wildflowers were especially beautiful with Lake Superior in the background.

We enjoyed our break from the Texas heat
along the cool shores of Lake Superior.

I brought back memories...

...and a few rocks :-)