Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween

Meet Patches the neighbor's cat.  She's a hairless cat which gives her an awesome Halloween costume. Oh, those eyes!

Patches finds my garden a good place to hunt.....

and explore

Hi there!

This pole makes a great scratching post.

She especially loves to rub on the spikiest plants.  A surprise since her skin is so exposed.

Sometimes she surprises me when I walk outside and catch a quick glimpse.  I think she might be the Chupacabra.  But don't worry, she won't suck the life out of your goat like the mythical Chupacabra.  At least I don't think so since she hasn't sucked the life out of our goats yet.  But then, we don't have any goats.

She loves to climb our bending trees but is not so good at the getting back down part.  Now she's begging to be rescued...

Patches is very affectionate and loves to follow me around as I work in the garden or, even better, talk me into sitting down so she can jump in my lap.  She's not completely hairless--her coat is very short-haired and feels like Nubuck suede.  About that goat thing, maybe I should get a goat and test my theory or....maybe not.

Patches says BOO!

and Happy Halloween

From Patches and me!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Visiting Wildseed Farms for Autumn Fun

In early October I joined members of my neighborhood garden club for a trip to Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg just over an hour away from San Antonio.  Wildseed Farms is the largest working wildflower farm in the country and is well known as a mail order source for wildflower seeds.

It's a beautiful facility designed to match its surroundings of historic Fredericksburg.  We were greeted by John Thomas, President and Founder of Wildseed Farms, who guided us on a detailed tour of the main buildings.

Wildflower seeds were expensive and difficult to find before John Thomas began farming them in the 1980s.  Now through his efforts and those of others your favorite wildflower seeds are just a click away.

John reviewed the important points of growing wildflowers in our gardens.  Most wildflower seeds work best with fall sowing.  It's very important to keep them moist during germination and into early stage growth.   The key to wildflower germination is good seed to ground contact and this seed planter he patented allows for large scale planting along roadsides and ranch land (note the name on the machine).

John also pointed out the parking spot which belonged to Lady Bird Johnson when she would visit from her ranch near Johnson City just east of Fredericksburg.  This meadow near the main buildings is named in Lady Bird's honor.  In the spring tens of thousands of visitors photograph the wildflowers blooming here.

During the fall months they prepare the fields and plant spring blooming wildflowers which bring all those spring visitors to the farm.  In addition to the operation in Fredericksburg, the company produces wildflower seeds at a farm near Houston and also overseas in Germany.  Because his customers are all over the world he does not specifically limit his selection to Texas native wildflowers.

We visited in the fall so these Salvia Farinacea 'Victoria Blue' which are native to Texas and Mexico were among the few flowers blooming in the fields.

This field of Cosmos (in the background) were on their way out to be replaced with seed for the next crop.

We toured the large butterfly garden and spotted a few Monarch butterflies stopping off on their way to Mexico for the winter.  The butterfly on the left is a Queen butterfly.

Then it was time for lunch from the Brewbonnet Cafe and a tour of the nursery and shops.  Seasonal plant combinations adorned the posts along the big arcade.  It was such a beautiful day we enjoyed our lunch in the outdoor area in the background.

The shaded arcade connects the nursery area to the shops.

Garden club members Melody and Lorelei admiring the succulent arrangements around the cistern in the courtyard.  I think a cistern like this would work great in my garden.

More seasonal goodies in the huge selection of gourds

This walk will take you out to the wildflower meadows best viewed in spring.

I circled back for a less crowded tour of the beautiful gardens.  First the large demonstration garden.

Loved the light on these morning glory blooms though it was well past noon at the time.

My Vitex quit blooming months ago.  This one is in more shade so that must be the secret.

Ice plant in a stone container works great.

Lovely vistas throughout the gardens.

This Duranta, probably Sapphire Showers, was striking in full bloom.

I am undecided as to whether I prefer the solid purple Salvia leucantha....

....or the one with a bit of white on the flowers.  Hmmm, still undecided.  I should plant both just to be sure.

The Butterfly Garden is full of blooming milkweed

These Queen Butterflies always seem to prefer the Gregg's Mistflower just as in my garden.

More of the butterfly garden

This building displays information on identification and the life cycle of the butterfly.  The huge cannas (probably Pretoria) with the native milkweed Asclepias tuberosa is a combination I'd like to try.

Then it was off to a tour of the borders along the entry drive.

Back to the nursery section.  Passion flower vines still in full bloom are beautiful

Roses are incredible in the fall in Texas.

These metal giraffe sculptures are enjoying the view.  They are also for sale but there wasn't enough room in the car on this trip.

Oh, yes, we are still in Texas!

Wildseed Farms has an extensive selection of pottery.  I especially loved these Talavera planters.

If you're visiting Fredericksburg, Wildseed Farms is a fun place to visit any time of year!  Be sure to try the Peach Ice Cream.

If you don't live near Fredericksburg, you can always order your seeds from Wildseed Farms website.