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Thursday, 02 February 2012 11:22

Web Extra: Your Own Bed of Roses

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When you’re trying to grow roses in Texas’ challenging climate, everything doesn’t always come up, well, roses. Editorial intern Claire Ronner chatted with Mike Shoup, owner of the Antique Rose Emporium outside of Brenham, to collect tips for TH readers on growing and maintaining the thorny, flowering plant. Here’s what Shoup had to say. 

Don’t be daunted by roses

“There’s a lot of prejudice out there about roses. A lot of people feel they’re very difficult, that they have fussy spray schedules and have to be pruned a certain way, but it really depends on the kind of rose you have that determines its success. Many roses available in nurseries have been bred just for their flowers. Breeders have essentially made weaklings out of those plants. Homeowners get frustrated because their roses die and it’s not even their fault.

But the antique types that we grow at the Emporium are tough. They don’t need man’s hands in order to grow. Those are the ones we’ve embraced, that the public would enjoy having. They give you fragrance, which ha been bred out from many of the modern breeds.

There’s a little tagline we have, since we found the antique roses thriving in cemeteries after years without any attention—if dead people can grow them, anybody can.” 

Look for older shrub types

“The antique roses don’t have the inbreeding of modern roses, so they’re tougher and easier to grow. I’d say make sure you get some of the older shrub types, the garden types, unless you want to have a show-quality rose, which in many cases requires a greenhouse and many other things that aren’t normal.

People plant roses that don’t survive because aren’t adapted to our climate in Texas. Some of the good old garden types will be sure to bloom a lot, have a wonderful fragrance, and don’t require spraying and pruning. We’ve got roses in our garden that are 20 years old and don’t require any effort.”

Start with the soil

“If you’re gardening in clay gumbo, sandy loam, or caliche, you can use the existing soil as long as you mix it with good organic matter. That matter is best in the form of a composted material, like manure, leaf, or bark derivatives (scraps of manure, bark, and leaves), or compost. The compost doesn’t smell bad, it actually smells earthy and mushroomy. 

Add about two inches of your chosen organic matter to about every 4 inches you dig out, mix it together and put the roses in the mixture. Put coarse bark on top of the roses, not in their soil. This bark converts into byproducts that are good for the plant.” 

Plant at the right time

“In the South, the best time to plant is from September until about February. Once you get into when roses start growing, which is March, you don’t have a whole lot of time until the worst part of Texas climate hits the roses. The more time you give them, the better.

Roses can survive the Texas heat, but if you plant them late your challenge is to keep them watered until you get a root system developed.”

Take time to enjoy your hard work

“I love the personalities of the roses. I love being privy to their growing process—they’re so diverse and so different in how they present themselves. They’re begging you to use them in certain ways in the garden.

The memory associations with a fragrance definitely are another favorite part for me. One of the best things is walking around the garden and listening to people who might not know I’m the owner, and they’re having conversations about family, about their memories of a smell. It’s like the garden takes them away from the busy bustle of their lives and allows them to be who they are.”

The Antique Rose Emporium began outside of Brenham more than 30 years ago when Shoup and his employees stumbled on wild roses growing in unlikely places. The Antique Rose Emporium has since expanded to include a branch in San Antonio. Call 979/836-5548 for the Brenham display garden and 210/651-4565 for San Antonio;


Byzantine Fresco Chapel Will Close Sunday, March 4, and successive Sunday programs include musical tributes and a panel discussion.

Final Divine Liturgy with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America: Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Menil Collection announced that March 4, 2012 will be the final day to see the Byzantine frescoes currently housed on its campus in the Byzantine Fresco Chapel, after which time they will be returned to the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. In celebration of the frescoes, their time in Houston, and the purpose-built Chapel that has been their home for fifteen years; the Menil will present special public events commemorating the return of this sacred art.

The works, the largest intact Byzantine frescoes in the Western hemisphere, have been on long-term loan to the Menil from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus following their rescue by the Menil Foundation 28 years ago. They are being returned to Cyprus following the conclusion of the loan agreement between the two parties.

At the heart of the Menil’s mission is the belief that art and spirituality are powerful forces in contemporary society and central to a shared human experience—and that institutions have a responsibility to preserve and present objects as stewards, safeguarding their future.

“We are honored to have been entrusted as stewards of these extraordinary frescoes and to have exhibited them for the people of Houston and the world in a remarkable building,” said Menil Director Josef Helfenstein. “The return of the frescoes to Cyprus is just one chapter in their long history. I hope everyone will join us for these programs as we celebrate the frescoes’ time in Houston and their return to their home country.”

Public Programs

  • Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 5:30pm Menil Collection Foyer Chant Sonata Duet A Musical Tribute to the Byzantine Frescos

Gather in the Menil foyer to join members of the St. Paul's Methodist Choir in a chanting procession − inspired by medieval traditions − to the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. The music continues inside the chapel with performances of J.S. Bach's Cello Suite #2 in D Minor (BWV 1008), and Osvaldo Golijov's Mariel (1999), a duet for marimba and cello.

  • Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 7pm Menil Collection Foyer Constructions of Art & Faith: The Byzantine Fresco Chapel and the Menil Collection

Marking the momentous occasion of the Chapel closing, a panel discussion will examine how art and spirituality inform the entire Menil campus. Joining Menil Director Josef Helfenstein will be: • Annemarie Weyl Carr, University Distinguished Professor of Art History at S.M.U. • Pamela Smart, Professor of Anthropology and Art History, SUNY Binghampton • William Vendley, Secretary General of the World Conference of Religions for Peace

  • Saturday, March 3, 2012 Byzantine Fresco Chapel (4011 Yupon Street) 8:30 a.m. Matins 9:00 a.m.           

 Divine Liturgy Final Divine Liturgy with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America in the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. Following the service, a reception with concluding remarks and music will be held at the Menil Collection.

Admission for all events is free; seating is available on a first come, first served basis.

About the Byzantine Fresco Chapel

In 1983, Dominique de Menil was presented with the opportunity to purchase two frescoes dating from the 13th century. Even though the frescoes had been dismantled into 38 pieces, Mrs. de Menil immediately recognized he exceptional quality and spiritual significance of the works and she resolved to rescue them.

Provenance research revealed Cyprus as the place of origin for the frescoes and, with this knowledge in hand and permission from the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the Menil purchased the frescoes on behalf of the Church. The Menil subsequently entered into a formal agreement with the Church, which granted permission to restore the frescoes (a three-year process), resulting in a long-term loan of the works so they might be exhibited in Houston.

A key aspect of the shared vision of the Menil Foundation and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus was that the original spiritual purpose of the frescoes be restored. To this end, a consecrated chapel was constructed on the Menil campus especially for the exhibition of the works—a space that honors the spiritual significance of the frescoes without creating a mere replica of their original home. Designed by architect Francois de Menil, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel opened to the public in 1997; hundreds of thousands have visited since. As announced last September, the frescoes will be returned to Cyprus following the conclusion of the loan agreement. The Byzantine Fresco Chapel has served as a place of peace and contemplation, as well as host to liturgical ceremonies, sacred music performance, and education programs. The Menil is currently exploring options for the Chapel’s continued use within the larger context of the Menil campus master site plan.

For more information on the Byzantine Fresco Chapel visit or


Tuesday, 10 January 2012 16:30

TH Deal: Spring Getaway

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See related: Greetings From (Just Off) I-35

It’s time to plan your springtime getaway, and have we a deal for you! At New Braunfels’ Prince Solms Inn, built by German craftsmen in 1898, mention the “Texas Highways Spring Getaway Deal,” and you’ll receive a 20% discount on room rates through May 24.  The Inn’s cottages, for example, which normally sell for $175, go for $140 for Texas Highways readers. Standard guest rooms normally sell for $125 and go for $100 with the discount. (There is a two-night minimum on weekends; one night is fine during the week.)

This discount includes the room portion of the Inn’s many special packages, including the Wine Lover’s Weekend Package and the popular “Discover New Braunfels Package.” The latter— which includes two night’s lodging, a full country breakfast for two each morning, a bottle of Hill Country wine, a $50 credit towards dinner at a New Braunfels restaurant for each night, and a picnic basket loaded with goodies to enjoy at nearby Dry Comal Creek vineyards—normally costs $480 (plus tax), but Texas Highways readers can enjoy the package for $430.

The Prince Solms Inn is at 295 E. San Antonio in downtown New Braunfels, and is famous not only for its longevity (since 1898!), its architecture (made of cypress from the banks of the Guadalupe River), its shaded patio, downstairs piano bar, and its easy access to New Braunfels-area attractions (tubing the Guadalupe, golf, Schlitterhbahn, Natural Bridge Caverns, Gruene Hall, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch), but also for its breakfasts. The Inn’s chef prepares morning delicacies such as bananas Foster pancakes, cranberry streusel muffins, and ham & Swiss breakfast pie.

To make reservations or for more information, call 800/625-9169; Happy spring.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012 09:49

Web Extra: Lufkin’s Ellen Trout Zoo

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The 20-acre Ellen Trout Zoo remains one of Lufkin’s pre-eminent attractions. Open every day of the year, it’s home to some 700 reptiles, birds, and mammals from around the world, including the ever-popular Komodo dragons, Masai giraffes, white rhinos, and river otters. The newest addition is “Rusty,” a two-month-old bay duiker (small African antelope), which brings the world’s total population of bay duikers to eight.

One of the first zoos to be accredited in Texas, the zoo is completing the final project in a master plan begun in the 1990s—the design for a gorilla exhibit. “We’re excited about this because only 52 or 53 zoos have gorillas,” says Zoo Director Gordon Henley. “This gives us an opportunity to offer our visitors something new and exciting, as well as provide homes for additional endangered animals bred in captivity.”

With so much ground to cover and so many exhibits, many visitors opt for an overview aboard the Z&OO Railroad, whose track takes passengers around the perimeter of the zoo and across Ellen Trout Lake. The train operates every day during the summer and on weekends and by special arrangement the rest of the year.

The zoo is at 402 Zoo Circle in Lufkin.

Monday, 17 October 2011 15:15

Web Extra: Monument Cafe recipes

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See related: A Monumental Dining Experience


Georgetown’s Monument Cafe, which opened a few blocks north of the courthouse square in 1995, recently added a farmers market and beer garden—and plan to open a new bakery by the time December holidays roll around. The Monument’s lively website includes details about daily specials and market offerings, and also features popular recipes adapted for home use. We thought this recipe for Black Bean Lasagna sounded perfect for an easy fall meal, and Zucchini Bread makes a healthy (and delicious) breakfast or snack year-round.

The Monument Cafe’s Black Bean Lasagna

  • 3 small (15 oz.) cans tomatoes, stewed or chopped, drained
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, firmly packed and chopped fine
  • 4 cups cooked black beans (or 2 small cans, drained)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of: salt, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne or bottled red pepper sauce (optional)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese, shredded, divided
  • corn tortillas

Combine tomatoes and cilantro in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine black beans, broth, and seasonings. In a third bowl, combine ricotta cheese and 2 1/2 cups of Monterey jack cheese.

Assemble like traditional lasagna: In a medium casserole dish, layer tomato sauce, corn tortillas, black beans, and mixed cheeses. Repeat twice, ending with corn tortillas and tomato sauce, then topping the dish with reserved Monterey jack. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The Monument Cafe’s Zucchini Bread

  • 2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs with sugar until pale yellow and thickened. Stir in butter; set aside. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Fold dry mixture into egg mixture. Stir in the vanilla. Spoon and scrape the mixture into a buttered loaf pan (9x5x2 1/2). Bake for one hour or until bread pulls away from side of the pan.

Monday, 06 June 2011 16:29


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June 2011 Texas Highways features a story on the AIA Sandcastle Competition in Galveston, along with Port Aransas’ Texas SandFest and South Padre Island’s Sand Castle Days. Here, Helen Anders provides the scoop on learning to build a castle of your own.

Sand Blasts

         Walter McDonald, better known in South Padre Island as The Amazin' Walter, remembers learning to make a sandcastle when he was a Boy Scout.

         "We were on the beach, and a kid showed me how to make little dribble things," he says. "I've been dribbling ever since."

         He's far too humble. As one of Texas' veteran sand sculptors, McDonald now enjoys teaching others the tricks of his trade, such as building arches and using a variety of tools, including a pastry knife, for details.

         "I teach kids of all ages," says McDonald. "I had one lady and we built a castle for her 85th birthday, and we have a date for her 95th."

         McDonald's colleague Lucinda Wierenga, better known on South Padre as Sandy Feet, says she loves watching the light-bulb moments for her sand-sculpting students.

         "Once they get the trick, the delight and sense of accomplishment is real and obvious," she says. “People realize,” she adds, “that they can just cut away what they don't like—or start all over.” McDonald and Wierenga both typically charge $75 an hour for lessons.

         "I remember how excited I was when I learned to carve sand and want to pass that excitement on to others," says Mark Landrum, known as the Port Aransas Sand Castle Guy, who charges $60 for lessons that take between an hour and an hour and a half. "The thing I enjoy most about giving lessons is seeing families work and play together to create memories that will last all their lives. There is a lot more to sandcastles than just sand."

Contact Walter McDonald at 956/761-5943; Lucinda Wierenga at 956/459-2928; and Mark Landrum at 361/290-0414, —Helen Bryant


Wednesday, 10 November 2010 09:21

Web Extra: Flights of Fancy, Winter Birds

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Texas Highways  presents photographer-naturalist E. Dan Klepper’s images of winter birds in the December 2010 issue. Following are details on the nesting habits of the winged wonders, and some fun facts on the Rio Grande Valley viewing spots Klepper includes in the story.

Home, Tweet Home

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

This emerald-green hummer likes to nest low, around five feet off the ground, and build nests that straddle droopy limbs or forks where they typically lay two tiny, white eggs.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher likes forests and scrubland and prefers building nests along the edge of limbs, away from the trunk. The nest is cup-shaped and constructed from spider webs or caterpillar silk and covered with bits of bark and lichen. The bird uses different soft fibers like feathers or hair to line the nest and will lay up to a half-dozen pale blue eggs with tiny dark dots.

Northern Cardinal

Cardinals prefer to build nests in a dense tangle of foliage anywhere up to 15 feet above the ground. Nest site selection and material gathering appear to be cooperative activities between mates but the female typically does the actual building. The nest layers are comprised of twigs, leaves, and fine bark outside and grass and pine needles inside. The female will lay up to five eggs in variations of dirty gray, buff, or pale greenish with speckles of dull gray or brown.

Orange-crowned Warbler

The Orange-crowned Warbler species is actually divided into four subspecies, each with a slightly different color, length, molting pattern, and location. Texans will be most familiar with the subspecies they see in transit, usually later in the migratory season, from its boreal-nesting and breeding site in Canada. The Orange-crowned prefers thickets in winter, particularly the dense tangle of native thornscrub in South Texas. The bird is one of the most common wintering warblers in the state.

RGV Fun Facts

  • Edinburg was known as Chapin until 1911 when the town’s namesake, Dennis B. Chapin, was implicated in a homicide. Fellow town founders abruptly changed the name to Edinburg, birthplace of one of the Rio Grande Valley’s first Anglo pioneers.
  • The town of Alamo, first known as a railroad depot called “Camp Ebenezer” in the early 1900s, was named for the Alamo Land and Sugar Company, not the San Antonio landmark.
  • McAllen occupies land originally granted to Antonio Gutiérrez and Juan Antonio Villareal by Spain in 1767.
  • Five miles south of the nearby town of Los Fresnos lies the site, called Palo Alto, of the opening battle of the war between the U.S. and Mexico in 1846.
  • La Borde House in Rio Grande City was built in 1897 as a residence and store by Francois La Borde, a French immigrant and Rio Grande City merchant
Friday, 12 November 2010 01:32

Web Extra: Lights on the Water

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By Haley Dawson

Nothing awakens the Christmas spirit better than a brisk winter walk through a lighted wonderland. Candy canes are a must, and if you plan ahead, a thermos of hot chocolate with melting marshmallows creates the perfect accompaniment to such an excursion.

As a child, I spent many December evenings with my family exploring the numerous lighted displays around my hometown of Houston. Years later, I now find myself a resident on Austin’s famous 37th street, known for years as the unofficial “Christmas Lights Street,” and it has been a delight to watch the groups of sightseers stroll down the block, stopping to admire each home’s dedication to the holiday cheer.

My family also frequents the South Texas coast during the winter months, and it has recently come to my attention that folks down there present an interesting twist on holiday cheer: lighted boat parades. I have yet to witness one such event, but I can only imagine the spectacle they produce. I’ve made a vow to visit at least one this December, and I encourage anyone itching to get in the holiday spirit to do the same. Listed below are some of the best parades the coast has to offer.

Corpus Christi: Harbor Lights Festival

December 4. Corpus Christi Marina.

Festivities take place throughout the day with a number of vendors and holiday activities. The official ceremony begins at 6 with the lighting of a giant Christmas tree followed by a lighted boat parade. Visit, or call 361/633-7293. 

Port Aransas: Carolers Afloat/Boat Lighting Parade

December 4, Roberts Point Park.

Sing Christmas carols aboard vessels as they cruise the city harbor in a lighted boat parade. Begins at dusk. Visit, or call 800/452-6278.

Rockport: Lighted Boat Parade

December 4, Little Bay.

Gather on either Broadway or Fulton Beach Road to watch as lighted boats cross the bay and participate in a contest sponsored by the Rockport Yacht Club. Boats are judged in several classes from sailboats and powerboats to commercial vessels. Visit, or call 361/463-9641 

South Padre Island: Christmas Lighted Boat Parade

December 4, Port Isabel/ South Padre Island.

For the 24th year, boats are judged at the White Sands Resort in Port Isabel and then travel through the Intracoastal Waterway to Louie’s Backyard on the Bay in South Padre Island for viewing and awards. The parade can be viewed anywhere along the waterway. Visit, or call 956/943-2262.

Kemah: Christmas Boat Lane Parade

December 11, Kemah Boardwalk.

Lighted powerboats and sailboats cross the Clear Lake channel from the South Shore Harbor Marina and the Nassau Bay Lagoon to Galveston Bay. This year marks the 49th annual parade. Visit, or call 281/334-9880.

Monday, 14 June 2010 19:00

Web Extra: Voluntourism

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July Texas Highways features a story on voluntourism opportunities across the state. Texas Highways intern Sheri Alzeerah brings us the scoop on the Four Seasons Hotel Austin’s Pay It Forward package.

Just as volunteers give back to the community, the Four Seasons Hotel Austin hopes to give back to volunteers by offering bighearted guests a big reward – nearly 50 percent off their hotel room rate.

The hotel’s Pay It Forward package awards guests who volunteer with one of two local non-profit organizations during their stay with room rates starting at $225 per night, a savings of 46 percent.

“The feedback from guests who’ve done it is incredible.”

Guests can either serve meals at Caritas of Austin’s Community Kitchen or lend a hand to Keep Austin Beautiful by cleaning up litter downtown and helping with beautification projects near Lady Bird Lake.

 “My favorite part is that people are able to come to Austin and see what an incredible city it is, but at the same time, once they leave, they’ve left it a better place,” says Kerri Holden, the hotel’s director of public relations.

Volunteers donate half a day to either charity to have access to Pay It Forward, giving guests the chance to stay in a lavish hotel without spending lavish amounts of money.

The Four Seasons Hotel Austin, a 291-room luxury hotel cradling the shores of Lady Bird Lake, boasts top-notch amenities – from flat-screen TVs to a heated saltwater pool. The hotel’s TRIO Grill & Bar whips up contemporary Texas cuisine and features a lively wine bar, a private dining room, and a terrace overlooking the lake.

The Pay It Forward program was originally scheduled to run from May 1 through September 6, 2010, but the hotel has added an extension. Pay It Forward will be offered again November 15 through February 28, 2011. “The feedback from guests who’ve done it is incredible,” says Holden.

Bookings can be made by calling 512/685-8100 or through Rates are subject to availability. Bookings must be made at least 48 hours in advance. 

—Sheri Alzeerah

Monday, 17 May 2010 08:50

Web Extra: Glenn McKinlay Interview

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Champion windsurfer Glenn McKinlay, who owns South Padre Island’s On the Beach Surf Shop, spoke with Texas Highways Senior Editor Lori Moffatt about the fortuitous life twists that took him from the coal mines of northern England to the sunny shores of South Padre.

“I grew up in Nottingham, England, and my father was a coalminer, and my mother worked in a factory. So, like a lot of kids, I did what my father did, and I started working in the mines, too. This was in 1979.

“When I wasn’t at work or in school, I went skateboarding at the local youth club—kind of like the YMCA. And the guy at the youth club said he had found a new sport called windsurfing that he wanted us kids to try.  So I’d go to the coast with a friend who lived across the street, and we got pretty good. The manufacturer of the boards was located in Nottingham, and the company took us under its wing, and started taking us to races.

“In 1983, we broke a world speed record for tandem windsurfing at Weymouth, England, in an event called the Weymouth Speed Trials.

“But I was still working at the mines. Then, some friends said they were going to Texas to go surfing and to visit their sister, who lived at Port Isabel. I came along on a five-week vacation, and loved it. I didn’t have to wear a wet suit, and there were dolphins swimming around me; it was pretty much like paradise.

“In South Padre, I met Gene Bagley, who was building a store called On the Beach. He had been in South Padre since 1976, and had a couple of other stores on the island. He said to me, ‘I need someone who knows about windsurfing. Can you be here in March, when I complete the store? You can take over the windsurfing sales portion.’

“So that was my release from the coal mines. I worked for him for 13 years, then took a detour and moved to Houston for awhile. A few years later, I talked to Gene, who said he was retiring and did I want to buy the store? I said sure.

“You never, never know where your sports can lead you. Life has some strange twists. I’ve learned to just go with them. Every time I sit back to think about my life, I’m just glad I found South Padre Island.”

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