Crimson poppy fields at Wildseed Farms


Mom and I stopped at Wildseed Farms, just east of Fredericksburg, Texas, on the way home from our Hill Country wildflower drive on Tuesday. Wildseed Farms grows wildflowers for their seed, which it sells to landscapers, retail customers, and highway departments that seed wildflowers along roadsides. With fields of flowers viewable from a nature trail, plus a pick-your-own field, it’s become a destination nursery that attracts 350,000 visitors each year.


At this time of year, the fields closest to the farm’s gift shop are ablaze with red corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas). Because they’re native to Europe, not Texas, you won’t see these blooming along Texas highways (we’re all about native wildflowers here). But they’re still awfully pretty massed in rows, and we spent a half-hour or so admiring them.


Up close, the wiry, hairy stems are visible.


From a distance, it’s a carpet of red.


Other visitors were getting pictures too.


Still others were content just to wander amid the colorful display.


Alongside the paths, native bluebonnets mingled with the poppies.


Red poppy ribbon


This field was just beginning to bloom. In the background, shade structures shelter outdoor seating. The place is huge, and sometimes they have a band playing live music.


A row of crepe myrtles divides one poppy field from another. Notice the beautiful form of these crepes. No one has butchered them (i.e., committed crepe murder) over the winter, thank heavens.


Vivid color!


I always enjoy spotting a few mutants among the reds, like these pink poppies. They make the reds look even better.


Behind these corn poppies I noticed some orange ones.


And other colors as well


It’s like confetti at a parade.


If you’ve never stopped at Wildseed Farms on the way to Fredericksburg, you should. Especially now.

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

THIS WEEKEND: Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Get your gardening mojo on at Zilker Garden Festival! I’ll be at the brand-new Author Booth both days this weekend between 10 am and 2 pm (near the main building entrance), and I’ll be selling signed copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! ($20 each). Zilker Garden Festival is the garden’s only fundraiser (and it needs our support) and offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden. Don’t miss it!

Join me for lunch downtown at Holy Grounds coffee shop and cafe on Wednesday, April 6, at noon. As part of their Coffee with the Author series, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton will interview me and host a Q&A with the audience — i.e., y’all — and afterward I’ll sign copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!. I hope to see you there for this intimate, lunchtime event. Holy Grounds is located in the main building of St. David’s Episcopal Church at 301 East 8th Street in downtown Austin. You can park in the surface lot in front of St. David’s main doors.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Wildflower drive through the Texas Hill Country


Yesterday, under drizzly skies, my mother and I hit the road on a wildflower safari through the Hill Country west of Austin. I try to see the wildflowers at peak every year if we have a decent show (winter rains are the key), and this year it’s about two weeks earlier than usual, thanks to an unusually warm winter.


Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) and Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) have stained the roadsides blue and red along U.S. Highways 183 and 29, between Bertram and Llano.


Where I could pull over safely, I stopped to take pictures, crouching low to shoot across the flowers and capture the rugged hills in the distance.


Texas is the land of pickup trucks, and it’s easy to get a shot of one zooming past the flowers.


Cedar-post and barbed-wire fencing makes an iconic backdrop as well.


Live oaks clothed in spring greens and spiny prickly pear add rugged architecture to a wildflower meadow.


The paintbrush is as bright as the construction signs in the distance.


Pretty!


The paintbrush is definitely having a banner year.


But we saw good patches of bluebonnets too.


Along one roadside, I spotted a few white-and-pale-blue bluebonnets.


More Indian paintbrush


A wider view


From Llano we headed south down Highway 16 and detoured a few miles west so Mom could see Enchanted Rock, an exposed pink-granite dome. For scale, note the car near the bottom of the photo.


As Enchanted Rock’s website explains:

One billion years ago, this granite was part of a large pool of magma, or hot liquid rock, perhaps seven miles below the earth’s surface. It pushed up into the rock above in places, then cooled and hardened very slowly, turning into granite. Over time, the surface rock and soil wore away. Those pushed-up areas are the domes you see in the park: Enchanted Rock, Little Dome, Turkey Peak and others.


See the people at the very top? According to the website, “Enchanted Rock rises 425 feet above the base elevation of the park. Its high point is 1,825 feet above sea level, and the entire dome covers 640 acres. Climbing the Rock is like climbing the stairs of a 30- or 40-story building.”

I’ve been to the top a few times over the years, although it’s been a while.


Heading back down Highway 16, we soon turned off again on the Willow City Loop, a public road through ruggedly scenic private land, and a popular bike route and wildflower-peeping drive. Plentiful signs warn visitors not to trespass or even park along the road. But on a drizzly Tuesday, traffic was light, and I was able to park the car a few times and stand in the road to take photos.


The loop is a winding, 2-lane paved road — i.e., bikeable — but dirt roads like this one lead off to ranch homes hidden in the hills.


Newly leafed-out mesquites stand among bluebonnets and white prickly poppies.


Along much of the loop, you’re driving through unfenced private land where cattle graze freely. Cattle guards keep them from escaping, but you do have to watch the road for cows.


This one gave us a long look.


We saw a few fields of yellow daisies and majestic live oaks.


I don’t have an ID for this one. Maybe golden groundsel?


This yellow farmhouse enjoys a front yard of bluebonnets, paintbrush, and prickly pear.


One of the most charming scenes is along a ranch property whose fence posts are topped with upside-down cowboy boots.


Boots of every size and color adorn the posts for a quarter-mile.


KE is, I believe, the name of the ranch.


Looks like a place to kick up your heels, doesn’t it?


If you get close to a large patch of bluebonnets, you discover they have a honey-sweet fragrance. I got as close as I could without stepping in them — a Texas etiquette no-no. Plus you might find fire ants or a rattlesnake in there.


The rugged beauty of a Hill Country view is always a treat, but especially in wildflower season. If you’re thinking of going, I’d say you have another week to catch the bluebonnets.

Update: For more wildflower pics — lots and lots of poppies — from a visit to Wildseed Farms on our way home, click here.

For my past wildflower safaris, click these links:
An Easter wildflower safari, April 2015
Wildflower safari in the Hill Country, April 2010
Texas wildflower Bloom Day, April 2010

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Get your gardening mojo on at Zilker Garden Festival! I’ll be at the brand-new Author Booth both days this weekend between 10 am and 2 pm (near the main building entrance), and I’ll be selling signed copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! ($20 each). Zilker Garden Festival is the garden’s only fundraiser (and it needs our support) and offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden. Don’t miss it!

Join me for lunch downtown at Holy Grounds coffee shop and cafe on Wednesday, April 6, at noon. As part of their Coffee with the Author series, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton will interview me and host a Q&A with the audience — i.e., y’all — and afterward I’ll sign copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!. I hope to see you there for this intimate, lunchtime event. Holy Grounds is located in the main building of St. David’s Episcopal Church at 301 East 8th Street in downtown Austin. You can park in the surface lot in front of St. David’s main doors.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Dreamy blues and a few surprises in the garden of Lori Daul


When a gardener urges you to come over to see something in bloom, you know you better say yes. Lori Daul of The Gardener of Good and Evil tempted me into a quick visit last Saturday — not with an apple but with “the last of the daffodils.” Of course, I found a lot more than daffodils to swoon over while I was there, including her always-wonderful collection of potted plants, surrounded by the feathery foliage of California poppies, which were just beginning to open.


Lori’s garden is a study in blue. She painted her ordinary wood privacy fence midnight blue a few years ago, transforming it into a rich backdrop for the greens and yellows of her garden. Blue-painted furniture and blue glazed pots continue the color scheme, which echoes her house color.


When I first visited her garden, back in 2010, it was a sunnier space that Lori had filled with roses. By 2013 (click for pics), as trees shaded her garden and drought took its toll, Lori had begun trading out roses for structural agaves, which add welcome architectural interest to her densely planted borders.


Although Lori has a great eye for foliage compositions, flowers still have a large place in her garden, like these columbines. An aloe bloom spike stands tall in their midst, nearly ready to open.


The same garden bed, from a different perspective. The purple-pink flowers are prairie spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis).


A serpentine lawn serves as a broad path through the back garden. The surrounding blue walls and fencing harmonize with all the greens. In the center of the space, a feathery mesquite (sadly in decline) is a living bottle tree adorned with a handful of turquoise and cobalt bottles.


In the deep, curvy borders around the fence line, Lori elevates many of her agaves in containers, including this whale’s tongue (Agave ovatifolia), to give them more presence.


A variegated American agave (Agave americana ‘Variegata’) adds a little zip with yellow stripes. In the background, you can see Lori’s new contemporary fence — painted blue, of course — which she’s completed on one side of the garden.


Orange bulbine flowers at the base of the mesquite, next to a water pan that I assume Lori puts out for wildlife — or her cat, Killer. Killer?? Well, after all, this is the garden of good and evil.


The gate into Lori’s back garden wows at this time of year with flowering ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine (Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’) contrasting with the deep-blue paint. Lori encourages the crossvine to drape across the gate, which seems not to impede the gate’s function, as we opened and closed it with no trouble.


The center of the gate is filled with mesh fencing, allowing peek-a-boo views and breezes.


Lori’s sense of humor appears in her containers (she has a collection of half-face pots) and garden art, like this coiled concrete rattlesnake set into the paving of a small front patio, not far from her front door. Mexican beach pebbles laid on edge evoke the rattles on its tail.


Near the front porch, another water pan sits next to a swath of ‘Chocolate Chip’ ajuga in full bloom. In the elevated bed, I think that’s Beschorneria yuccoides ‘Flamingo Glow’ next to a holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum). I wish I’d asked Lori about her beschorneria. It’s a beautiful plant.

But then, so is everything in her Garden of Good and Evil. Thanks for sharing it with me again, Lori. It’s funny that I forgot to take a single picture of the tempting daffodils!

I welcome your comments. If you’re reading this in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment link at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Come meet me at Zilker Garden Festival, Austin, TX, April 2 & 3
Get your gardening mojo on at Zilker Garden Festival! I’ll be at the brand-new Author Booth both days this weekend between 10 am and 2 pm (near the main building entrance), and I’ll be selling signed copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone! ($20 each). Zilker Garden Festival is the garden’s only fundraiser (and it needs our support) and offers all-day entertainment, vendor shopping, plant sales, demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and food vendors, children’s activities, a garden train, a flower show, and a docent-led tour of lovely Zilker Botanical Garden. Don’t miss it!

Join me for lunch downtown at Holy Grounds coffee shop and cafe on Wednesday, April 6, at noon. As part of their Coffee with the Author series, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton will interview me and host a Q&A with the audience — i.e., y’all — and afterward I’ll sign copies of The Water-Saving Garden and Lawn Gone!. I hope to see you there for this intimate, lunchtime event. Holy Grounds is located in the main building of St. David’s Episcopal Church at 301 East 8th Street in downtown Austin. You can park in the surface lot in front of St. David’s main doors.

Do you review? Have you read my new book, The Water-Saving Garden? If you found it helpful or inspirational, please consider leaving a review — even just a sentence or two — on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites. Online reviews are crucial in getting a book noticed. I really appreciate your help!

I’m on Instagram as pamdigging. See you there!

All material © 2006-2016 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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