Monday, October 31, 2011

Outstanding Roses from the Test Gardens

Roses: the beautiful, easy to grow, weather hardy, insect tough, queen of flowers!
Yes, it's true, if you choose the right rose.  And here is the garden proof.

I took these photos on October 25, in Farmers Branch, the Dallas suburb where The National EarthKind® Rose Gardens and Display Gardens are located. 
I went to see if anything had survived our summer of serious drought and sweltering temperatures.

I was amazed!  Look at these blooms!
These test roses have never been fertilized, sprayed or pruned (unless they outgrew their allotted 8' x 9' foot space).  The grass was killed off, the ground was tilled and in they went.  They were planted four years ago as an environmental horticulture research project, headed Dr. Steve George of Texas AgriLife.  There are three giant plots, each holding the same collection of 100 different rose cultivars selected for their willingness to persevere in different soil types and under different climatic conditions.  Four countries, seven universities and 20 states are participating.
Roses of every type and color survived 71 days of temperatures topping 100 degrees.  And they were only watered three times!  I selected just a few to share today - there were so many beauties it really was hard to choose.

Here's Beau in front of Belinda's Dream.  This proven performer was the first rose to be given the Earth-Kind® designation.  It was chosen to anchor each isle of the test gardens, so there were multiple examples of its magnificence.  It's a shrub rose, but it looks like a vigorous hybrid tea with very double 4" wide blossoms of medium pink.

All the plants are very clearly marked, so it is easy select and remember favorites. 
As you can see from the marker, this is the rose Julia Child.  Perhaps Ms. Child selected this cultivar to be her namesake because of its buttery color!  Every example of this plant looked terrific: round and bushy, standing about four by four, covered with blossoms & lots of very glossy green leaves.
Julia Child has a lovely scent.  This might just be the best choice for anyone hoping to find "a yellow rose of Texas" for their garden.  I know I want one.

This orange-red beauty is Tropicana, a tea rose reaching to six feet, deliciously scented with long stems perfect for cutting.  I didn't think I would ever be seduced by a tea rose (often such fussy things), but I may have to have this one for the lake, too!
And what's happening at the lake?

We have walls starting to go up!  And the drilling for the geothermal system has started.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Old Doors

Does anything kindle the imagination quite like an interesting door? 
They stir memories of wonderful old stories and suggest new adventures.
A well-told door is a no-fail plot device.
Doesn't everyone want to know what's behind the door?

I love to photograph doors.  These examples are from various missions in San Antonio, and they inspired my interest in finding some unique doors for the lake house: doors with a bit of history, with some character and texture.  

Our long-standing plans to meet up with east coast friends in New Mexico turned out to be perfectly timed for a door hunt at Seret and Sons.  We have often wandered through this fascinating store in Santa Fe, admiring the dhurrie rugs, Tibetan furniture and old doors from around the world.

This is the first one we picked.  How could we pass up the Texas style stars?  It will make a beautiful door for the master bedroom.  In all we found twelve doors for the lake house, eight interior and four exterior.  The doors we selected for were originally from Goa, a major trading center of Portuguese India from 1510 until 1815, when it fell to the British. 
The interior doors above are teak.  Some were saved from old temples and others were rescued from the abandoned home of a Portuguese merchant before a wrecking ball could destroy them.  The temple door to the left with the unique grill-work transom will be the entrance to John's study, and the one on the right will go in the guest house.

We loved the carving on this exterior door.  The images seemed so appropriate for the lake: duck, fish and trees.  The door on the right is one of a pair with brass inserts that we will use for the front entrance.  All the exterior doors are made from Neem, the "blessed tree" of India.  Part of the mahogany family, Neem trees are highly valued for a variety of reasons, including their medicinal properties. 

Over the weekend we worked with Hal, our builder, measuring both the doors and the foundation slab to make sure each piece will fit perfectly into its new home.  We are now waiting for the framing crew to finish up their current project so that they can start on our house next!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Longhorns and Poets

 Each time we drive out to the lake we notice something along the way that we somehow missed before.  My favorite stretch is the last 15 miles on 287.  John is always willing to pull over for a photo opportunity, so I'm going to try and capture more of the Texas countryside for my posts. 
First up has to be the Texas longhorn.  We see them grazing in the open fields and under the shade of the mesquites.  This cows horns aren't very long (comparatively speaking they can stretch up to seven feet), but she does look to have some of that original Spanish blood.

I don't know what the process is for getting an historical marker.  They look expensive to create, and they seem to pop up in unexpected places, often along country roadsides.  There is one on 287, posted by a field, with signs from both directions pointing out its existence.  So (for the first time ever) we pulled over to read one of these reminders of the past.  I guess the last thing I was expecting was a poet, but what a lovely surprise: Navarro County was the home of Walter Montgomery.  And the poem chosen to honor and remember him is a perfect fit for my lake house story!

Maybe we can take a rubbing of this!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dock and Boat House

 On returning from a long weekend in New Mexico (more on that in a future post), we discovered a freshly poured slab for our house
our dock and boathouse under construction! 
It's so exciting to arrive and see new activity.

We placed the dock and boathouse off the the right of the property in order to preserve an unobstructed view of the lake from the great room.  The dock more or less lines up with the big bumelia tree.

The dock stretches 100 feet out from the sea wall, and the boathouse adds another 30 feet, but the lake keeps moving away, and the beach keeps widening.  A wonderful rainfall came through Dallas while we were away, soaking the ball game in Arlington, but unfortunately barely moistening Corsicana. 
The drought continues...

However, all this beach front allowed John a long guided tour of both the topside and the bottom side of the dock construction by the friendly crew from Lakeshore Marine. 

The walkway out to the boathouse is six feet wide and will have a handrail with stainless cable crossbars along one side.

Here's some of the crew in action, welding the supports for the hip roof. 
We are restricted from adding walls or screening to the boathouse.

And here is the view. 
The lake in it's most mellow mood,
mirror smooth and reflecting a beautiful sky.