Travels Out West ~ A Photo Essay from Last Year’s Cali Trip

Before spring gets away… I have held these photographs for over a year now just waiting to share them with you. By the time I was ready to share them last year, it was summertime. So,  they waited for this year to share that 3800 mile round-trip out west as we moved all our household good to Texas from California. 

Let’s enjoy some glorious wildflowers and garden beauties!…

By the time I was ready to share them last year, it was summertime and the timing was gone. This year however it is the perfect time to share these wildflower beauties! With staying home we all need our armchair travels so please do! download these photos to your heart’s content and put them on your computer’s slideshow and as save screens. I want you to enjoy them…

Texas’ state flower is the blue lupine or bluebonnet but these lupine are in the high desert of Arizona.

The lead photo is of some fiery orange and yellow lantana in flowerbed at Costco or at the hotel I stayed at last March, if memory serves. Always pretty, lantana blooms from early spring through summer and on into fall. It’s a lovely perennial and comes in white, this orange and also some lovely purple hues. It is perfect tucked into a pot (or a flowerbed) where it can drape itself over the side and cascade downward. Here is a variety seen standing tall.

This photograph and the second one above share these yellow daisies (Coreopsis) growing alongside a freeway exit ramp to a rest area in New Mexico or Arizona. The wildflowers along Highway 10 were just perfect as I was traveling to California over the March 2nd-4th, 2019 weekend into Monday.

On that Saturday I made it to El Paso about 12 hours from our home. That Sunday it was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I was on Highway 20 heading down out of New Mexico into Arizona and I gasped at the drifts of bluebonnets and yellow Coreopsis…


They were dotted here and there on these low hillsides ~ very pretty! I remember wishing I had a really long lens for my Canon so I could shoot differently but get close-ups along the hills.

Pullouts dot the one lane roadsides so it is easy to just pull off the highway into these wide areas to safely get out and snap photos galore!

These are a bit jumbled and jump back and forth from the pullout and the one rest stop exit, but they are always beautiful!!! 💛

These saguaro and other tall cacti are part of a cactus garden right off the highway (probably HW 10 heading to Arizona when I was driving back from California). 

Western deserts are garden zones 11 and 12 (really hot and dry). Because there was a lot of rain last winter and very early spring (late January and February), this  made for spectacular greenery out in the desert in March. 

Another rest area found me following a group of cyclists out on a spring ride. Some had panniers on their bicycles (front and/or rear bags carrying gear for camping, usually) so they may have been riding cross-country over spring break.

Definitely New Mexico!

This large sculpture of a roadrunner sits up on a rock at a rest stop looking down on Las Cruces, New Mexico. I just looked this up and did you know this sculpture is made of trash??! Yes! Here is a cool little ditty from Trip Advisor about the Roadrunner of Las Cruces.

I didn’t get that close and personal with Mr. Roadrunner as I wanted to get on the road and be home by dark that Saturday evening a week after I had started. It was 5 or 6am when I shot these photographs. The little hare was startled by my presence but soon went back to nibbling when he found out I just wanted to visit with him, not harm him. 

Untouched photo and the light as it was…
Here I was on my way into the restrooms to wash up before driving onward. 

Here is when I came out looking out over the city of Las Cruces. The Organ mountain range is here in the Las Cruces area of NM and these may be the West Potrillo Mountains. I googled this… 😉

Heading home… 

One quick shot of the car in the early morning sunlight, full to the brim with portraits, paintings, engine oil, paints, cleaning fluids and the like. Oh, and my suitcase, blanket and a couple of coats. It was 30 degrees F. that morning and I was sooo glad I brought those coats and blanket to wrap around me! I also had a beanie and wool socks, longtime winter Boy Scout camper that I am!!!

Enjoy your springtime,

Out and About ~ The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Good day to y’all, Two weeks ago my daughter and I took a trip over to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center near her apartment home in Austin, Texas.

This is a bit long with many wonderful garden photographs for you… Grab a cup of coffee or tea and let’s tour the early summertime gardens and see what’s growing!

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is now located in western Austin, Texas off the Mopac Parkway on 500+ acres of property which the late President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson donated to the University of Texas at Austin. Originally located in east Austin, the center was moved to its current location in 1995.  

When President Johnson and the former First Lady served in the White House, Mrs. Johnson saw developers scooping up land and destroying much of the indigenous habitat available to Austin’s dwindling wildlife.

Alarmed, she felt called to action.

Among the many bills President Johnson presented to and were passed by Congress during his time in office were those to protect America’s wildlife and the creation of a number of new national parks. President Johnson also signed the Highway Beautification Act into law, and Lady Bird helped by lobbying Texas officials promoting seeding Texas’ highways with native wildflowers. 

Inside the LBJ Wildflower Center’s main entrance courtyard. Mrs. Johnson asked that native plants be used as well as some way of promoting the history of the peoples who lived or moved into the area. Stonework on each building represents the Mexican, French, Spanish and German settlers who came to South Texas and the type of stone each favored when building their offices and homes.
An aqueduct runs along the top of the entry archway carrying
rainwater to one of fourteen cisterns (the grey round tower
at the far end) collecting this precious resource. Limestone and
sandstone feature.
Later, Mrs. Johnson talked with her husband about donating some land they owned to develop a wildflower center. 

A view of water stair-stepping down from the overhead aqueduct
and into the front garden pond below, just to the left.
This wildflower center would help raise awareness about the need to preserve Texas’ unique habitats and to promote Texas’ beautiful natural flora and wildlife as a place to come and visit.

A painting of Lady Bird Johnson by Norman Rockwell with a
video playing (reflection) about Mrs. Johnson’s conservation
work and life.

Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” (Taylor) Johnson along with friend and fellow conservationist, actress Helen Hayes, championed this cause and founded The National Wildflower Research Center in 1982. 

Research gardens ~ divided into native plants using soils specific to each plant’s needs. These areas are designed as teaching gardens for the avid home gardener and for local school children. Most of the plants around are “to be touched.”   🙂

“My hope for what lies ahead in the field of landscape design … is not a revolution against the use of non-natives, but a resolution to educate ourselves about what has worked for Mother Nature through the ebb and flow of time and to put that knowledge to work in the planned landscapes that are everywhere a part of our lives.”

Lady Bird Johnson

Late spring blue salvia (foreground), pink coneflowers, past their
prime tall coneflowers (those tall black-tipped stalks) with the
area’s natural savannah in the background.

“The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the State Botanic Garden and Arboretum of Texas.” It’s mission is to “inspire the conservation of native plants through its internationally recognized sustainable gardens, education and outreach programs, research projects, and consulting work.” 

                                           ~ Overview, http://www.wildflower.org

A grove of Lebanon cedars which grow all over Texas but especially
in the hill country.
Amy and I arrived around 10am to the wildflower center and found that a guided tour was about to begin. Peter was our small group ‘s guide and we enjoyed a nice hour-plus walk through the inner gardens of the wildflower center.

Bright orange lantana grows just off to the left.
This first section of the inner garden is planted with all local native species bursting with blooms in each season. Each species stars during its normal bloom season with some plants flowering as spring bloomers, some later in summer and others through the late summer heat and into fall.

My forefinger got in this shot but I wanted to share the variety of species planted together ~ the spiky with the more feathery. Really pretty!

Of course I was there to gather ideas for my yard and I love the structures! One could make this large barn type structure with posts and pallet wood…

This lovely shade flower’s leaves look very similar to a couple of vines growing in our back garden. I am hopeful that this is what is growing!

Adorable small blooms on this white daisy-like fleabane!
Further along our guide shared that Mrs. Johnson wanted this area below to be a teaching garden for children. She felt strongly that everyone should have the opportunity to come and learn about Texas’ beautiful wildflowers.

Children get to learn about dirt and rock’s natural water filtration
process plus touch every plant and play in and around the water.
Naturally forming limestone rocks are fun to climb on and jump off.

Lady Bird spent a lot of time promoting better education for America’s youth and this was also true for the wildflower center. Here in the Children’s Garden everything is “hands-on” and kid friendly! 

Behind me (as I took this photograph) is a meadow with a small air conditioned outbuilding which is set up as a children’s library. 
Mrs. Johnson was adamant about having a special place where children could study and learn about the local wildlife and plants living and growing up around them.

Here in the adult’s section is the University of Texas’ research center (not open to the public) with garden beds sharing plants which do well in certain soils. These are test gardens and adult visitors (and children, of course) can see and touch these plants. One smelled like chocolate!

A quietly snapped photograph of my daughter Amy laughing at something funny our guide Peter told us ~ love this young lady!!!

Further along on another trail I tried to capture this industrious bumble bee…

Several monarch butterflies… also very fast in their pollen gathering!

One of my favorite shots… Love the deep pink of these coneflowers with their orangey centers!

Pink and yellow coreopsis (coneflowers)…

Beautiful pond back near the Children’s Garden…

The last section I have to share today is really one of the first. It is the water lily garden at the entrance to the LBJ Wildflower Center as you come inside the archway.

My daughter saw the little striped water snake which lives in the pond as we came around the front. I think our guide said its name is Archie or Harry. For a snake, it was pretty cute and you can just see his little eyes looking out from his head in this next photo…

Can you spy him in the middle left?? He was curious about us as much as we wanted to see him.

The right hand side of the pond boasts white-blooming water lilies whereas the yellow-bloomers float on the left side. 

Did you know that when water lilies are planted they are put in little baskets and then placed into their shallow ledges in a pond?? I saw that recently when I was watching some Monty Don and other British garden shows.
And the pond brings us back to the beginning of our guided tour and a graphic featuring this golden beauty to share…

Thank you for coming along on this garden tour with me! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and will share with your friends.

I’ve traveled to other places this year but haven’t quite got around to sharing them with you so I will be sharing those soon.  A few of the neat places I visited are in New Mexico and Arizona plus a local garden here where I live in Denton, Texas. 

Sharing with
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Blessings to you and happy gardening,