Dahlia at Volunteer Park

Dahlia at Volunteer Park

“For dahlias give a jewel-like glow to the heart of the autumn garden, they are, in a mass, so resplendent.”
— Susan Hill, The Magic Apple Tree: A Country Year




Volunteer Park Conservatory

Volunteer Park Conservatory

I spent a wonderful hour on Sunday wandering around Volunteer Park with my camera.  It was a beautiful, sunny fall day — resplendent — and people were out and about enjoying time with family and friends.  The dahlia garden was an outdoor showcase, but I enjoyed the various plants inside the conservatory, too.







The Gage Academy of Art was hosting a Drawing Jam in the park, and this time I just looked over the shoulders of the participants rather than taking up sketching myself.  A lost opportunity, really, but I was happy this time just photographing.




Sometimes you just can’t beat a Sunday in the park in Seattle.

Texas bluebonnets

We saw our first Texas bluebonnets in a ditch from the windows of the car rental shuttle at the Houston airport, but we couldn’t stop for photos.  That first sighting whetted my appetite, so the hunt was on.  I next saw some at a nursery in Chappell Hill.  Chappell Hill is on the “Bluebonnet Trail,” and I had read that one could sometimes find early blooms along the trail at Old Baylor Park in Independence, so we made a point to stop there.  We were in luck.

Potted bluebonnet for sale in a Chappell Hill nursery

Bluebonnets and white wildflowers at Old Baylor Park

Wildflowers in bloom at Old Baylor Park in Independence, Texas

 After Independence, bluebonnets proved elusive until later in our trip when we drove south of San Antonio.  Suddenly we saw bluebonnets growing in profusion in huge patches along I-37.

Texas bluebonnets along I-37 south of San Antonio

Bluebonnets along I-37

We saw plenty of other wildflowers along the roadsides of Texas.

Coral-colored Indian paintbrush near Old Baylor Park

Butterfly and wildflower

Flowering plum and butterfly

Tiny blue wildflowers

White wildflower

Cactus in San Antonio

Patch of evening primroses growing wild in a ditch

Coreopsis growing close to the ground, North Padre Island National Seashore

Prickly poppies, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Huge thistle near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Wildflowers in a meadow near Brazoria

Wisteria in bloom on the drive to Huntsville, Texas

Bee in the wisteria blossoms

Seasonal room at Volunteer Park Conservatory reflected in a mirrored ball

The seasonal room at the Volunteer Park Conservatory currently features azaleas.  The conservatory is a colorful and warm destination for a winter’s day.

Azaleas splash red and pink in the seasonal room

Azaleas at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Pretty in pink

I was also captivated by the staghorn ferns, carnivorous plants, and cacti on this visit.

The staghorn fern resembles antlers!

Staghorn fern, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Carnivorous plant

This plant resembled a giant bird in flight.

Lovely patterned leaves of a cactus

Thorned Glory

January 5, 2010

Thorns arranged like a sunburst

Detail of cactus, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Thorns, like buttons down the seam of a cactus

Detail of cactus, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Thorned cactus

I was totally captivated by the structured symmetry of the plants in the Cactus Room at the Volunteer Park Conservatory.  There is so much beauty in the rhythmic patterns of thorns on the various cacti.

Lately I’ve been watching the first seasons of Project Runway on DVD, and while I was busy photographing these unusual cacti, I couldn’t help but imagine how fashion designers could find inspiration by visiting this room at the Volunteer Park Conservatory.