Monday, May 31, 2010

Garlic Plant

Society Garlic
This is called a garlic plant, Society Garlic, to be accurate; however, it is not a garlic plant at all. It is related to the narcissus plant, and is considered a type of lily. It got it's name from the slightly garlicky smell, although the lavender flowers are fragrantly sweet. Perhaps it's most enduring quality is that it is a drought-tolerant plant and does equally well in the brutal heat of Houston summers and sub-freezing temperatures of the Houston winters.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Morning Glories

Of all the vines, morning glories are one of my favorites. I once had an artist paint morning glories on the arches in my house. They were so unique and reminded me of the type you sometimes see at the beach. When I took the photos of these little flowers, they were about to close because the sun was too hot for them. They certainly come by their name quite naturally.
A little known fact is that seed sellers/producers cannot ship morning glories to Arizona. The reason is that they are classified as a prohibited noxious weed, due to the fact they get caught in the combines that pick cotton.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Moon After Thunderstorm

I took these images last night about 11:30, after the thunderstorm had passed, which was the first time of the night the moon had been visible. It didn't last long and then was gone behind clouds. I waited for it to reappear but after a while, I grew tired because of the late hour. Later, I got up out of my bed and took the last one about 4 in the morning this morning. Most of the time, clouds obscured the moon.

The last one...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Daylilies Abound

Daylilies are in full bloom in Houston gardens now. One sees them in public and private plantings. Their buttery yellow blooms are a welcomed addition to the landscapes. They are particularly beautiful when planted in masses.

My mother always had a flair for decorating and having a beautiful house. Imagine a living room with orange walls in the mid-50s, when everyone else had white walls. Add to that, gorgeous floral, dark green ceiling-to-floor curtains, and chairs without arms that curved around your back, a light green silk sofa that was almost a semi-circle, once all the pieces were pushed together. That's what I mean. And why mention all that? Because Mother loved to grow tiger lilies by the dozens and she would cut them and put them in one of her prized crystal vases, to decorate the living room. Perfect flowers for a perfect room.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Moon Over Houston

All of these photos were taken last night at about 10:30 PM, after a rain storm. No special lenses or any kind of touch-up were used to produce these images. Just the moon in all its glory with the clouds for a backdrop.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pin Oak

The name "pin oak" possibly refers to the many small, slender twigs of this tree. The bark of the pin oak tree was used by some Native American tribes to make a drink to ameliorate intestinal pain.

I could use some of that "bark tea" myself, after a long period of stomach upset due to medication side effects.

The leaves of this particular pin oak are larger than I have seen them in a long time because the yard service typically cuts the small seedling down to the ground. This time, they have let it live and grow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dusty Miller Blooms

Dusty Miller is blooming because it was allowed to grow into a very mature plant. Normally, these bedding plants are kept small. These show that they have compact head of multiple small yellow flowers. If you look carefully, you will see a spider web between the leaves

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Definitely Divine Plumbago

The plumbago is beginning to bloom in Houston gardens. The delicate multi-flower head in a purply-blue makes me smile. I love the color of the flowers and the way they brighten up any garden.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Never Enough Magnolias

These images show the most recent photos I have taken of magnolias in varying stages of aging. Each stage is beautiful in its own way.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Nitrogen Canister

This nitrogen canister is sitting by the telephone pole that is on a main street in the neighborhood. It's a curious sight... why is it there?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Surprise in a Garden

As I was walking the neighborhood with my camera, I came upon this horse statue quite unexpectedly. I had passed a big tree and caught a glimpse of something; it almost startled me. This little statue is aging quite beautifully, with the patina of moss. Doesn't the horse look as if it is almost smiling, chuckling? Or does she have a secret like the Mona Lisa?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Shoots for Sago Palm

The sago palms (not really a palm, at all, instead, actually a cycad) are developing quickly their new shoots that will become pinnate leaves. These remind me of the cylindrical feather headdresses worn by ancient chiefs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Soft, Velvety Seed Pods

The soft, velvety seed pods of the Wisteria vine are hanging from all the branches. They are only now beginning to develop. Not yet mature. Eventually, they will turn brown, open and deposit their seeds. Whether they fall on fertile soil is another question.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dainty Begonias in Pink and Red

The neighbors down the street have planted masses of begonias under their big trees. The plants are small but very colorful and appealing, with irregular, fan-shaped leaves. These dainty flowers are just a small segment of the huge family of begonias. There are many who fancy the begonia, and if you want to know all about begonias, check out

Sunday, May 16, 2010

American Flags Still Fly in Texas

It is not unusual to see American flags flying in people's yards or on their houses, or fences. No holiday is required, to put out the Stars and Stripes. I see Texas state flags around, too, just haven't had a chance to get a photo of one yet.

On Cinco de Mayo, a controversy erupted in one of the Houston schools over the display of the Mexican flag. That controversy does not compare to the recent brutal beating of a child by his teacher, all caught on videophone. The video has "gone viral," as they say.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Orange Trumpet Flower Vine

This pretty little trumpet flower is blooming in Houston gardens now. It is said to attract hummingbirds, and I am hoping to see one or two. This particular vine is a "volunteer." The best way to propogate these vines is to look at the base of the mother vine and see if there are any little shoots coming up along the side. Dig around the roots carefully, taking as much soil as possible. Transplant into a pre-dug hole, in a suitable spot, usually along a fence or other supporting structure, with a little root stimulation hormone and water well, for the best chance of a successful transplantation.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blue Sage

Sage or salvia plants are coming back to life after a devastatingly cold winter. These plants survived all the sub-freezing temperatures and are coming into their full beauty.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Here's a bouquet for all the mothers in the world and for those mothers who are no longer with us. They each, in their own unique ways, had a powerful influence on us, our neighborhoods, and the larger community.

Friday, May 7, 2010

St. Francis de Assisi

St. Francis is a well-known Catholic saint in the Western World. Statues that represent him are in gardens throughout the Americas. The story of St. Francis is a fascinating one, a story of a child born into privilege, to a father who was a successful cloth merchant and to a French mother. Originally named Giovanni de Bernadone, his father nicknamed him Francesco, in honor of his commercial success in France. Francesco's early life was one of a care-free, rich young man, often partying with his friends, involved in street brawls and the pleasures of youth. He eventually became disillusioned with his lifestyle and joined a military expedition where he was taken prisoner for a year. His spiritual conversion was a gradual one, with many contributing factors, such as illness, emotionally moving encounters with paupers, various set-backs, forsaking all material possessions and experiencing religious visions. He not only became a beggar, he spent a good deal of time in lonely places, contemplating and praying. Part of the time he worked caring for lepers. He began to preach repentance and gained a following that became known as "The Franciscans." His life was not just one of abject poverty and withdrawal from the world, as he had many amazing adventures, including an invitation by a Sultan to preach to the Muslims in Egypt. Because of his attempted rapproachement with the Muslims, the Franciscans were allowed to remain in The Holy Land, making them the Custodians of the Holy Land.

Only after his death did stories begin to spring up about St. Francis' love of nature, birds, and animals. His writings are considered to have great literary value as well as religious value because he wrote in the Umbrian dialect, instead of the customary Latin. He is called the first poet of Italy. Undoubtedly, it was his environmental poetry, expressing the love of nature, that allowed the legends to flourish. Today, many celebrate a feast day named in his honor: October 4.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Magnolia Against True Blue Sky

This photo of a magnolia blossom against a pure blue sky has not been retouched in any way. That is a truly beautiful blue sky, accenting perfectly the colors of nature. Many of the open magnolia blossoms are up high and really out of the reach of my camera lens, but this one begged for it's "portrait shot."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spent Magnolia Blossoms

This magnolia blossom has come to the end of it's life cycle. The cycle will begin again and there will be blooms in another place. The weather is getting quite hot and the petals dry out, turn a burnished orange.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Study of Magnolia Blossoms

This blossom will soon dry up and turn orange... all part of the magnolia blossom life cycle. When you walk past a magnolia tree loaded with blossoms, the air is pungent with a sweet fragrance that you can't miss. It is a joy to take a deep breath and experience their scent.

All around the neighborhood magnolia trees are preparing to deliver the gorgeous magnolia blossom with it's sweet fragrance.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Magnolia Breaking Free

This magnolia is breaking free from the outer layer that once protected and encased it. As I was photographing the buds on a magnolia tree, a security officer came up to investigate. He could easily see what I was doing but he let his presence be known... as in I was somehow violating the rules or trespassing. I told him that I was just taking photographs and "No harm, no foul." It was clear to me that he was just making sure I knew his presence was a warning. How silly. It was public property!

A Train Runs Through It

In case you're not a movie buff, the title of this post is a take-off on the movie title, "A River Runs Through It." There's no story line about this train so that's where the similarity ends. Railroads bisect Houston, and the highways that have grown up around those tracks, are built above and over the tracks. Where there is no highway to circumvent the tracks, you will see scenes like the one above in our neighborhood. About three years ago, this area was designated a "quiet zone" which means that the Engineer is not supposed to blow the train horn at crossings, but sometimes you hear that familiar sound. It is much quieter than it used to be, especially at night when the train horns sounded long and loud throughout the night. Hank Williams, Sr. wrote about the train and his lonely heart..."Hear that lonesome whippoorwill; he sounds too blue to fly. The midnight train is whining low. I'm so lonesome, I could cry."
Now, the horns only sound occasionally, probably warning that someone or something is nearing the crossing that should not be there. There were once many small railways in Houston, built to transport cotton and goods that came into the ship channel. All of them gone and mostly forgotten now. Passed into history. For those who still follow the lure of the train, check out:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Keeping The Ocean Clean - It's Not just BP's Job

The City of Houston has affixed these metal tags to the area just above the storm and flood control drains, in an attempt to raise the consciousness of it's citizens about not dumping anything down the drainage system. Many people do not understand how the flood waters of our city affect The Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay. Every year, tons of plastic refuse collects in the bayous and eventually makes its way to the Bay or the Gulf. The other day, I saw some people doing yard work and blowing the leaves right into the drains. While many might think this is harmless, that leaves are "biodegradable," actually, leaves clog up the drainage system and then cause flooding. The next "Trash Bash" event is planned for March 26, 2011, a day when many areas around Houston bayous and of the coast are cleaned of debris by caring individuals: Scouts, church groups, civic groups, individuals, and businesses all participate in the event to make the environment cleaner for people, birds, animals and reptiles. If you'd like to take part, check out the website.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Shamrocks In Bloom

Yes, I have written about shamrocks before, on St. Patrick's Day; however the only photos I could get at that time were taken in the rain when the blossoms were closed. Here you see the little shamrock flower in all it's glory. The combination of rain and sun and moderating temperatures have made for just the right balance to cause shamrocks to pop up all over the neighborhood, with copious blooms.