Monday, September 22, 2008

Interesting Friends & Places in West Texas

On our West Texas trip we visited some gardens, homes of friends, hotels, and institutions. Here are a few of them.

There is a Big Bend Museum in Alpine, Texas on the Sul Ross University Campus where we spent a couple of hours exploring the natural history and our human history.

One of the displays in the museum was of a huge rock painting found in one of the large rock shelters. There are many fascinating exhibits and I recommend a visit there to all who are visiting West Texas.

At our visit to the Barton H. Warnock Science Building we saw one of our West Texas heroes is Dr. Michael Powell, a Botanist of Sul Ross University that has written about the Trees & Shrubs and Grasses of the Trans-Pecos region, and who is now gathering information about the herbaceous plants of the region which will either be published as a book or perhaps as information site on the web. A new book Cacti of the Trans Pecos is available now. It is out in paperback at a very reasonable price.

Patricia, Cindi, and J. David sit on the back of a truck. In the mid 1990's, Patty was one of Dr. Powell's botany graduate students, and she helped us with a project involving an endandered plant, the Murray Plum (Prunus murrayana). She went on field trips with us where we located new plants, and also helped us by growing some of the plants that we were hoping to plant in areas where there weren't many left. Also, we wanted to have a number of them from different colonies here together at the ranch.

Patricia had lived in town when we first knew her, but she longed to live out in the country. They now have this great house on 6 acres on the edge of town.

Eve's Garden is in Marathon, Texas and it is a B&B as well as a fabulous construction of papercrete. The Living in Paper website states, "Figuring conservatively, it takes about fifteen trees to make a ton of paper. That means that 720 million trees are used once and then buried in a landfill each year. We are experimenting with ways to turn this prodigious amount of waste into low-cost, high-value sustainable housing."

Owners, builders, gardeners and operators, Clyde T. Curry and Kate Thayer showed us around as we visited them. We met them years ago when we were in Marathon, and had enjoyed their company as well as seeing the early stages of their creation. We were anxious to see what they had built since then.

In the front garden you can see both Kate's love of plants but the organic shape of the walls and arches in the outdoor area. As you can see they love the bright primary colors of houses in Mexico.

There are many areas of the outdoor gardens, and here in the background you can see a fountain.

I love their use of organic shapes in their designs, as well as the vibrant colors.

The kitchen was spotless and I was impressed with the equipment.

This is one of the B&B bedrooms. Each has unique style, decorations and colors, and they are all different.

A passion flower captured my attention in the garden.

I guess Eve's garden should have a snake.

I have stayed many times at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, but I didn't know about the Gage Gardens, which we found quite by accident. The link above takes you to the whole Gage resort complex which includes the gardens. It was clearly planned for large events as well as for individual enjoyment.

A fountain is surrounded by flowers and stone walkways.

Grasses and and plants with colored leaves add a variety of visual delights.

I have no connection other than visitor to the places I've shown in this post of my blog. I only wanted to show you what a delightful mix of human sites are there in west Texas as well as some of my favorite scenery in the world. I have been to West Texas many times, and never tire of seeing it. I have seen it when everything was crispy dry, and when the desert floor was covered with green plants and wildflowers were everywhere. I've been there in hot weather and in cold. I've been there on Plant Field-trips and on Audubon Christmas Bird-counts. When the mountains are cold, the desert can be sunny and nice. When the desert is burning hot, the mountains can be cool.

Where ever you are, try to learn about and enjoy the natural world.

Photographs by Margaret Bamberger, 2008.

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