Native Son: Calm Before the Warm

4:07 am…Mowed the walking path through my meadow last night. Earbuds in, kd lang singing her heart out, and the deep, vibrating drone of the engine underneath…it was magical. Wildflowers, mostly Old Plainsman* (Hymenopappus tenuifolius), have taken over one section of the walking path, flanked on each side by little green clouds of twisted, swirling greenbrier vines rising from the grasses. Life presents us with choices; opportunities to change things. I always liked the Thomas Edison quote: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” So…I cut a new path. It was a bit difficult and time consuming, and I must admit that the mower did most of the work.

It is amazing what a new path will do for your soul. This morning, I am inspired to take a few minutes to savor Spring before the heat sets in and share a few of my favorite recent moments with you.

Two Old Buzzards and a Dove…

Left: Texas Agri-Life Extension Agent Steve Chaney and I taking up our share of real estate at a recent Tarrant County Master Gardener meeting. Few people realize that Steve and I are unrelated twins by different mothers. Right: Jo Anne Karges, a local champion for the natural world and mother of famed Naturalist John Karges, takes a few minutes to visit with me at Chandor Gardens. (All photos courtesy of Steven Chamblee, except where noted.)

Continued Below


Handfuls of Beauty…

The last of the springtime Red Poppies says hello to the Wave Petunias of summer. Note the blue pollen in the center of the petunia.


Inside and Out…

This little anole overwintered in the greenhouse. He peeked at me (left) before I moved the potted agave, then got a little bolder once the plant was outside in the garden (right).


Farewell to a Friend…

(Left) A crane removes the seven-ton severed stump of a massive Cedar Elm that was taken down by February’s ice storm. (Right) A new Cedar Elm will continue the legacy. Click photo for larger view.


What’s Happening In China…

On a recent research trip to China, Stephen F. Austin State University Regent’s Professor Dr. Dave Creech snapped a few photos of these topiary Crape Myrtles at the entrance to an exhibit hall. Shown in the photo is Jim Berry of J Berry Nurseries. (Photos courtesy of Dave Creech)


Friends are the Family You Choose…

Nothing I know of beats a herd of great friends showing up at my garden for exploration and laughter. And yes, that is a chicken! Peeps had a great time as well.


Beauty and the Best

At left: The most appropriately named person I know, Parker County Master Gardener Sunshine Lockley cracks up as we play dueling cameras. At right: Fort Worth Sculptor Michael Pavlovsky works patiently on his reconstruction of the Dragon Fountain at Chandor Gardens.


Eggcellent Idea…

Funny how I so lovingly revere songbird eggs when I encounter a nest (left), yet all I can think of is “Yummy!” as I whip up a chicken egg breakfast for fifteen friends.


Mighty Curious…

At left: The dark burgundy inflorescence of this Voodoo Lily (Amorphophallus rivieri) stands about four feet tall and smells a bit like meat gone bad. At right: A pollarded Sycamore tree in Burnet, Texas. While I cannot recommend this type of pruning, it is interesting to see how drastic pruning can stimulate latent buds into breaking all up and down the trunk.


Never Dawned on Me…
At about 6:20am I get the grand idea to photograph the new path down in the meadow just as the dawn was breaking, and let the dogs run while I was at it. Click…got photo. Dog yelps. I look over to see my dog rolling around like a maniac…and a little, white, almost feathery tail heading off in the other direction. I guess the skunk had not read the book that says they are nocturnal. Perhaps this one was crepuscular (active at dawn & dusk, like deer).

7:43am So…I have just arrived back at the keyboard to try and finish this article.

Left: The newly mown path preserved a nice patch of Old Plainsman. Right: Old Plainsman is one of my favorite flower scents (I liken it to the fragrance of honey).


Just some facts for your perusal…
Tomato juice is completely worthless (0%) for removing skunk scent.

Heavy duty dish soap & hydrogen peroxide work better…about 90% de-stink.

The bath water reeks and will perfume everything, even the lawn.

A skunked dog sitting outside will indeed perfume in the inside of your house.

You can’t wash a skunked dog without getting a little on yourself.

Even hard-scrubbing with peppermint soap doesn’t help me very much.

I am just calling this article D-U-N done!

*—I noticed even some university websites call this plant Ragweed and offer lesser alternative common names of Woolly-white, Wild Cauliflower, and Old Plainsman. To most of the world, Ragweed (Ambrosia sp.) is one of the villains of the plant world, producing billions of airborne, allergy-inducing pollen grains. I would hate to think that a misinformed person would mow down their meadow of beautiful Old Plainsman (which does not produce wind-carried pollen, thus, does not cause allergies) in an attempt to reduce their suffering.


I need a road trip! Let me know if you’d like me to come and speak to your group sometime. I’m low maintenance, flexible, and you know I like to go just about anywhere. No city too big; no town to small. Just send me an e-mail at and we’ll work something out.

Come out and see me at Chandor Gardens! Located in the heart of Weatherford’s Historic District, Chandor Gardens is the perfect place to get away and enjoy the simple pleasures of life that can only be found in gardens. Call 817-613-1700 or visit for details.

Posted by Steven Chamblee
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