In Love with a Bully

At my age, with my experience, I should know better.

There were signs early on, which I chose to ignore.

There was just something so irresistible about

its seeds.

That’s right, seeds. Those carmine-colored, tiny, shiny rubies.

Not the flowers, although they are a magical spray of tiny pink of blooms on wiry stems.

Nor the chartreuse leaves which give it the name ‘Limon.’

It was the tiny jewels of seeds.

Jewels of Opar ‘Limon’

Thus the name, ‘Jewels of Opar’  for this Talinum paniculatum/ Fameflower.

I should have suspected when little, lime green leaves appeared in neighboring pots.


I should have realized its tenaciousness, when every cutting grew roots.


It should have been a warning sign when even tiny cuttings produced flowers and seeds.


I was blinded by those seeds.  Fall in love first, ask questions later.

Finally, I did some research.

Caution!  Self-sowing.  Deep tap root.  Eradication difficult.  Invasive.

These warnings are for Zones 10 through 15, I am in Zone 7.

I still will not be putting any in the ground or sharing my many new plants

until I see if our winters will kill back seeds and sprouts.

I did read that the leaves are edible and can be made into smoothies.

If this becomes a problem, I will eat my way out of it. That always works well.

Sometimes, I just can’t help myself.

The heart wants what the heart wants.  Bully or no.


The Frozen Phase is Here.

It happened last night.

The elephant ears are drooping, the dahlias are black.

The banana leaves are brown and the Turk’s caps are gray.

The green has left the garden.

Another phase in the life of a gardener.

Clean up the frozen leaves and stems before they turn to slime.

Dig up tubers, corms, and rhizomes that now have no tops.

Pack them in peat moss, haul them in.

Sometimes I wonder.

What would I have done with all that time if I had NOT

followed this same routine over and over again each year?

My nails would be prettier.  Maybe my back wouldn’t hurt as much.

More traveling? More money? A career? A cleaner house? More friends?

No matter.  I have chosen my flowers.  My living rainbow.  My green children.

That has been my path.  My little world of tiny friends and flowers.

ALL these photos were taken yesterday, just hours before the freeze.

Many blooms were covered with frantic bees. CLICK on any photo to enlarge it.

(The feature image is a pumpkin bloom)

The Frozen FLOWER


Bunnies and Blooms in the Gloom

We have had three cold, wet days here in NC.

Neither I nor the bunnies have played outside.

They have kept busy chewing sticks, barbering each other,

eating, napping and tearing up their box.

I have played with my inside plants.

My Christmas cacti collection will be blooming for weeks to come.

I am so thankful for their vibrant colors.

I am just sharing today’s showoffs up close.

gold and salmon

When it stops raining, I will be going outside to photograph all the bloomers that are still braving the elements.

It’s the least I can do for these tenacious plants.


The Moorings of the Spirit

What holds my soul fast and safe, when all else fails or falls away?

My strings of flimsy faith?

The hand of a merciful God?

My devoted family?

My loyal friends?

What keeps me whole, when I am cracking and breaking?

Where does all that strength come from?

Something saves me.

I know this to be true.

I have been broken and I have been mended.

What saved me? What held me together? I am not sure.

How could I keep standing by his bed in ICU to put a wet, sponge pop in his mouth?

How did I stop screaming to clean up her blood on the rocks?

How will those church people who were hit with this horrible shock stay sane?

What will hold them up?  What will keep them from shattering?

Will it be God?

Will it be the heartfelt prayers of millions of puzzled and sad humans from afar?

Will it be the love and touch of the caring people around them?

Will it be soothing words or holy music?

Will it be some secret inner strength that appears when needed?

Whatever it is.

I hope there is a whole lot of it in Texas.

Mourning Glory FLOWER

The Conk Colony

I have been watching the growth of a group of conks around an old oak in town.

I think its scientific name is Inonotus dryadeus. 

Other common names are weeping conk, oak bracket, warted oak polypore and weeping polypore.

Inonotus dryadeus

It is a beautiful sight, but a bad sign.

The presence of the weeping conks is a sign of root rot or butt rot. More and bigger conks mean more rot for the tree.

I posted on a lone giant conk last year. This group is a block away from that one.

conk cross-section

This city has very old oak trees in the hell strips.

The roots get damage from the sidewalk side and the street side.

It’s amazing they have lived this long.

I find all fungi fascinating whether they are friend or foe.


I Wish I Knew Their Secrets

It’s Schlumbergera truncata/Christmas cacti blooming time.  Well, actually I think it is early.

The GOLD came in first and is blooming profusely.

gold Schlumberegra truncata

The WHITE is also covered with blooms and buds.

white Schlumbergera truncata

The SALMON colored is about at its peak also.

salmon Schlumbergera truncata

The FUSCHIA is the brightest ever, but one-sided. Oops!

fuschia Schlumbergera truncata

The PINK is tumbling over because of so many blooms.

pink Schlumbergera truncata

It’s the REDS  and Light Pinks that are struggling.

red Schlumbergera truncata

They look a little dehydrated. They have fewer blooms.

There’s a problem. Some of them changed. The bottom half to be exact. The “Shop” group.

I had them in two different locations. I watered and fed both sets the same like a good scientist should.

The variable was not as much the amount of sun, but the time of day that they got sun.

None got much direct sun because they were all under an overhang most of the time.

The struggling group got afternoon hours, the thriving group got evening hours of sun.

That hypothesis makes sense, but I have another.

The group by the entryway got more attention.  A plant?  Needs attention?

This may surprise some of you, but plants are living things.

They process and respond to their environment. They communicate with each other.

I can read some of their signs like wilting, drooping and color changes.

I cannot however perceive their chemical signals.

The needs of the downstairs group were not met in some way.

I turned them less, rearranged them less, pruned them less.  It shows.

They have fewer buds, smaller buds and less color.

Maybe you had better check on your plants more often.

Turn them around, pull a leaf or two, maybe a kind word…

I have been misting the sick ones and giving them “banana water.” Now there’s a secret!




Being Followed

I had quite a fright this evening.

As I was walking around the neighborhood, I noticed a tall person following me.


I quickly walked to the nearest bench and sat down.

She sat down right behind me.


I tried to keep quiet as I tiptoed to hide behind the nearest tree.

I peeked out and there she was, hiding behind a tree looking back.


I decided I needed to get in the house where it was safe. Maybe this pest would leave.

Later, when I went to the garden to pick greens.


I saw her arm raised with scissors in her hand.


I grabbed my basket and ran back to the house as fast as I could go.

Happy Halloween!


The FLOWER is fearless.

Lovely and Lively Chinese Lanterns

I was fortunate to see the Chinese Lantern Festival at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens.

It has been there since September 7th and ends this Sunday, October 29th.

Each figure was made of metal frames with colored acetate pulled over it,

Details were painted on. They are illuminated from the inside.

Some have moving parts, while others are accompanied by animal sounds.

It was hard to pick favorites for this brief post.  Here are a few of my best photos.

The arch over the entrance was spectacular.


The displays were set up in groupings that might occur in nature.

The African Migration display seemed to be the favorite of children.


Family groups of animals were tucked into niches throughout the gardens.


This male lion was alone and on guard as is natural.


This snail stole my heart.


The chameleon had a moving tongue as though eating its fly.IMG_5529

The huge and colorful sea display was worth sitting down to watch. The lights in the bells of the jellyfish moved rhythmically as the bell would contract in real life.


The whale was a friendly giant.


Giant birds and insects were positioned along paths and in trees.


Each lantern was an amazing piece of artwork. I could have spent hours looking around.

FLOWER on the Move.

The Second Story

I have been going to the Cone Estate outside Blowing Rock, NC for decades.


This was my second trip upstairs.

My first was years ago. My camera battery died at the top of the steps. Hi, Ho!

My sister and friend, CP, lucked up on it being open while we were there.

It was like winning the lottery.  My camera had a full battery, too.

There is a book about this estate, A Mansion in the Mountains, by Philip T. Noblitt.

This book started as his graduate thesis. If you love the place, you will love the book.

The second floor has lovely details.


Photos of Moses and Bertha Cone and other family portraits are scattered around in the rooms.

The sisters have a famous art collection on display in Baltimore.IMG_5353

There were several tour guides sharing fascinating details.


I was happy to see some renovations in progress.


The bottom floor has local art and a book store.

A featured artist sets up in the covered porch on weekends to demonstrate crafts.

That will be my next post. The art was magical.

I will end with a view from the second story window.


Below is Bass lake and the newly renovated “Heart Pond.”


I have walked here many times.

This place is a dream.