Day Trip to Caprock Canyons


Caprock Canyons State Park, at the southern end of Palo Duro Canyon, requires about 1 1/2 hours to drive from my house.  Yesterday, we met the Panhandle Native Plant Society there to investigate flowers and grasses.

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When we first arrived, it seemed blue might break through the cloud cover, but it did not.

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The park ranger took us to several different sites to identify different flower and grass species.  The above is an area which in the early 90s was a cotton field and has been restored with native vegetation.

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We drove to another area which remained “wild”–never cultivated.

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Then we drove to a picnic area overlooking the lake.  Close to there we found the poppy below.

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After lunch, we parted with the rest of the group and drove to the end of the road.  Martina had hoped to see bison–the state bison herd roams there.  At this point we had seen none. As I drove along, a bison bull was strolling down the road.  Martina took this photo from the side window.  He was only a couple of meters from the car.

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We stopped and took a few more photos where the road ends. I have hiked from this point in the past, but not yesterday.

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After leaving the park, we headed to Silverton, Texas, to visit a coffee shop there which was recently featured in a Texas magazine as the place to go.

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I loved the murals and sculptures.  The owner is a sculptor and also a raptor trainer. The shop features coffee, desserts, unique clothing, and art.

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On the way back we stopped at the Palo Duro Canyon overlook/picnic area on highway 207.

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If you are in the Amarillo or Canyon, Texas, area, I highly recommend this day trip.

 

 

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First Flowers on the Rim of Wonder


Spring comes several weeks later in the country compared to town.  The recent rains caused a sudden rush of beauty for wild flowers and iris which grow here almost as readily as the wild, native plants.  They seem to appreciate this high, semi-arid country.

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These iris thrive in spite of native, caliche soil, no extra water, nothing.  About 1 1/2 years ago, I simply planted them without soil amendment or fertilizer.  These are rebloomers.  They will bloom again in autumn.

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These I planted along side the barn.  Once again no soil amendment, nothing extra.  However, they receive extra water from rain running off the barn roof.

Notice, the tallest one.  I did not even know I had one that color until it bloomed.

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Here it is up close.  Now for the wild flowers I found just strolling around after letting my horse out to graze.

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After looking through a couple of native plant books, I gave up on identifying this one.  If someone who reads this knows, please tell me what it is.  I have also heard there is an app for my iPAD that identifies plants.  I have yet to find it.

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This grows by the retaining wall near the barn.  Although the flowers look like guara, the rest of the plant does not.  What is it?

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Chocolate flowers were in full bloom a few days ago.  Here is one still blooming with a few scrambled eggs (yes, the common name for the smaller flowers) here and there.

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These carpet large portions of the pasture.  Guessing they are some type of wild onion but not certain.

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The blackfoot daisies are just beginning to bloom.  They will cheer up the landscape all summer and into the fall.

As more flowers bloom, I will add photos of flowers living here on the rim of wonder.

 

 

 

 

Walking in the Wild–Part One


Toward evening after it had cooled down from the mid 90s, I decided it would be a good time to practice with the camera on this iPAD mini.  Because of all the rain, everything looks like desert plants in Ireland.  I am still learning to type and blog on this tiny keyboard and trying how to space the photos on the iPAD.  I must figure it out if I want to post from Dubai and Ethiopia next week.  I will not be able to do what I did a couple of days ago when I went to the iMAC and fixed it.

The following photos were taken on my stroll.  I know most of the wildflowers:  blackfoot daisies, winecups, chocolate flowers, sundrops, plains zinnia, several kinds of native grasses, milkweed, at least two kinds of prickly pear cactus.  If I can get the photos to space as I want, I will identify what I know as I go.

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The flowers near my front door.  The flowers below are blackfoot daisies and I think winecups.   You will see a lot of blackfoot daisies in these  photos..

 

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The flowers in the photo below are desert (sometimes called Mexican) birds of paradise, catmint, and lavender, none of which are native, but grow well here.

 

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More Mexican birds of paradise, butterfly bushes and red yucca.

 

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Plains daisies and they usually grow in clumps over a wider area as in the photo below, but this little one decided to grow in the middle of the drive and I do not have the heart to destroy it.

 

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Blackfoot daisies and sundrops growing next to a yucca plant.

 

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Rosie getting fatter and fatter on all the grass.

 

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One of my favorite wild flowers, globe mallow.  They are tiny but such a glorious, bright color.

 

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A field of globe mallow and plains zinnia.

 

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Star’s gravesite.  I planted the desert willow, but all the wild flowers are filling in by themselves.  I actually tried planting some flowers here, but the bunnies ate them.

 

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Two weeks ago, I had almost decided to cut this tree down because it appeared totally dead.  I tried to break off a twig, but it only bent, indicating it was still alive.  I thought to my self it might recover if it rained soon enough.  And it did–not quite up to its form a year ago, but vastly improved.

More photos from walking in the wild tomorrow.  Because I live where I do, I cannot get the speediest Internet and it is very, very slow going tonight.

The Journey versus the Destination


Until yesterday, I always thought I was a destination person.  Set goals, act, get it all done quickly and efficiently, achieve!!  Suddenly, while driving home from Austin, realization struck in  the form  of wild flowers.  Traveling to Austin, I oohed and awed so much over the blue bonnets, daisies, gaillardia, and others I did not recognize that my daughter finally exclaimed, “Mom, you have said that over and over, really!”  I asked, “Don’t you think they are beautiful?!”  I could hardly believe her response, “Yes, but they’re just flowers,”  Just flowers!!!!  I wanted to stop and look closely at them, to take photos, to touch them.  Instead I said to myself, “You can do that on then way home.” But I didn’t. From Austin to Marble Falls, the road was too winding with no adequate place to stop.  Besides my daughter slept blissfully beside me on the passenger side; I didn’t want to awaken her.  Furthermore, she had previously emphasized the point that we needed to get home buy a certain tine.  Tomorrow, my grandson had school and I had to go to work.  It was a nine hour drive. For hours from just east of Llano past San Angelo, I kept thinking I’d stop.  The flower species and colors changed.  I saw other people stopped, taking photos and touching the flowers.  As I drove it hit me:  my personally preferred form of travel involves wandering.  Yes, I know the destination, but I want to see the places, the people along the way, to stop, to explore what holds my interests.  It is the journey, the process, that truly enthralls me.  This is the reason, too, why without a lot of thought, I chose one route to Austin and another back.  Curiosity, a love of differences, of change, of variety. I never stopped. I kept driving until my daughter awakened just before Sterling City and we switched drivers.  By then the flowers were fewer and farther between. And it hit me that this too was my father’s preferred form of travel.  He lived on the same farm for 90 years and in the same house for 80, but he loved trips.  Every year we took at least one.  We always had a destination, well, sort of, but we stopped whenever and wherever we found something fascinating and wonderful.  As he would have put it, “You never know.  You might find something in an expected place and want to stay there longer.” Since I took no photos on this trip, I decided to share photos of the flowers I found blooming in my xeroscape garden at home when I arrived.  Yes, they are lovely and I love them, but I will wonder for weeks what I missed along the road.