Autumn

While our yearly rainfall averages 27 inches, rains in September, October, and November this year have totaled 19.93 inches.  So far the total for 2018 is 28.71, which isn’t that much over the average, but is enough to make us happy.

All this rain has resulted in rutted roads and high water levels on low water crossings.  But the blessings have far outweighed the inconveniences.

Copper Canyon Daisy, a native of the Sonoran desert of Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona, normally blooms in August, when the temperature is the hottest.  But even July and August were rainy, so it finally flowered in late September.

The smell of this stinky plant is not noticeable outside, but is overwhelming in confined spaces.  Pretty flowers at the tip of long stems gracefully wave in the wind.

The color on the ridge behind the house is stunning.  The green of the cedars, the local name for them, make the other colors pop.   These are actually Ash Juniper, post cedar, or blueberry juniper (Juniperus ashei),

Native to Northeastern Mexico and south central U.S, the largest coverage of Ash Juniper is in Texas.  They are a bane to property owners, who push them up with bulldozers because they are so prolific, cover grassland, and draw up water needed for other trees.

The positive aspects are erosion control and shade for wildlife and livestock.  Look closely at the middle lower part of the picture and you’ll see some of our wildlife – a deer.

Some other green is provided by our native Live Oaks.

Looking another direction shows how cedars grow in large expanses.  The birds eat the berries and distribute the seeds a la mother nature’s way.

In the yard, a Red Oak provides bright color.  Another Red Oak, which I neglected to get a picture of, was dark red.

A flock of Robins dropped into the yard this morning bobbing for worms.

This is like one of those puzzles sent on Facebook.  Can you find the robin in this Chinese Pistache tree?  Look to the middle of the picture on the left.

Always enjoy these visitors running to and fro and taking to the air at the least noise or movement.

Hope your autumn has been full of delightful surprises like our rains and beautiful sights.

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.”  William Cullen Bryant

Garden “Bones”

“The “bones” of a garden are the elements that are permanent and that provide its structure: trees, shrubs, arbors, walls, trellises, walkways, and statuary or other sculptural elements. They represent the garden as it appears when the growing season ends, when the color and texture provided by blooming plant material is muted by snow and bare earth.”

The above quote explains what is meant by garden bones.  Click on the link to read more.

In this post, I’m only going to focus on a few living bones:  trees and large shrubs.

When we built the house 13 years ago, this was a pasture.  The only tree was a large Live Oak behind the backyard.

In this picture, the tallest tree is a Bur Oak on the east side of the house.  Eventually, it should shade a window in the morning.  Behind that is a Red Oak and then a Texas Ash, neither of which can be seen in this picture.

To the right in the background is a Cherry Laurel.  To the far right behind the house is an old, old Live Oak.  It’s probably a hundred years old.

In the front yard is a Chinkapin Oak.  There are a couple of trees behind it.

Really wish I knew what this bush is.  It was planted years ago.

During the winter the stems or trunks of this large bush reminds me of a water fountain.

Wind provides lots of motion.

Usually we cut the stems down to the ground in late winter.  Then leaves grow all the way up the stems.  This year that chore did not get done and the stems only have pom poms of leaves on the ends.  Interesting look.

Basham’s Party Pink  (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’) is one of the first Crapemyrtles to bloom each year.  It seems to me that white and pink ones always bloom earlier than deeper colored ones.

One of the tallest varieties of Crapemyrtles, Basham’s Party Pink can reach 30 to 40 feet.  This one is six years old.

Flowering trees are a great attribute in a yard, if only for a few weeks or months of the year.

Most of the Goldenball Leadtrees (Leguminosae Fabaceae) I’ve seen are only 8 to 10 feet tall.  But Texas A & M reports that they can reach 25 feet tall and wide.  Oh dear, this one will be extremely crowded if it gets that wide.

Although Desert Bird of Paradise (Erythrostemon gilliesii) is a tropical tree from South America, it has naturalized in Texas.

It’s hardy and many pollinators feast on it.

Vitex or Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) has become favorite.  A native of China and India, it is naturalized throughout the southern U.S.

I’ve been told they bloom better and look better if pruned to maintain an 8 to 10 foot height.

What’s not to love about these striking flowers?  Plus, they perfume the air.

Generally, I prefer to zoom in on details of flowers.  But good bones are definitely the most important elements of a yard and garden.  As summer is upon us, I’m reminded how wonderful it is to have shade provided by trees in the yard.

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”   Bill Vaughan

Winter Came Back

Last week old man winter snuck back when I wasn’t paying attention.

Ice covering Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) tree.

Ice on Yellow Lead Ball bush and Crape Myrtle.

The good news is that this winter event brought rain – over five inches.  Hip, hip, hooray.

The beautiful Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana) looked really sad.

The weight of the ice on the branches was a concern.  But in a couple of days, it was melting, and the tree perked back up.

The Live Oak, too, was frosted with ice.

Another Chinese Pistache with ice.

Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) with ice.  Okay, you get the picture.

Texas Kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana) is a native flowering small tree.  The rebar post was put there when it was small to mark the spot to avoid with the mower.  Guess it’s time to remove it.

Ice caked around a red rose hip on a climbing rose.

The hills were covered with ice, and it wasn’t fit for man nor beast to be out.  A paraphrase of a W. C. Fields quote.

From inside where it was warm and cozy, it looked dreamy.  And I’m so thankful for the rain.

“Sometimes my greatest accomplishment is just keeping my mouth shut.”  Zane Baker

Looking for Color

Winter conjures up a dull, drab, gray picture in my head.  So I’ve been searching for some color.

But, first, I want to sound a horn and shout hallelujah.  Today it rained.

That’s a major event for us.  Before today, we’ve received less than an inch of rain, all in small increments since September.

This Kalanchoe has been propagated so many times that I’ve lost count.  It originally came from my mother.  I plan to always keep one as a special memory of her.  This particular one I started in the fall, so it’s been inside for several months.

Oops.  My husband notice that I had the same picture twice, so I’m changing that, although it is the same plant.  Sorry.

During the darker days of winter inside, it tends to get leggy and flop over.  It’s propped up now.  It will go with many others for our Garden Club plant sale.

A Christmas Poinsettia still has some bright red.  I keep them inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside in the shade.  I had two ready to bring inside last year.  The first cold snap got them.

Although the grass is dead, this evergreen Cherry Laurel is covered in green leaves.  Love this tree.

Live Oaks are an important tree for central Texas.  This one is over a hundred years old.  In fact, it’s the reason we chose to build in this spot.

Live Oaks tend to grow out and the branches point to the ground.  So they need to be trimmed on the bottom branches every few years in order to walk under them.

This native Yarrow has white flowers and is evergreen.  The foliage on it is softer than many other Yarrows.

First signs of spring here are Daffodils and Texas Scarlett Quince.  The first Daffodil has opened with many others in the wings with flower buds.

The Quince buds are beginning to open.  Such a vivid red.  Spring is on its way.  Hooray.

There is color on many winter mornings if one gets up early enough, steps out into the cold air, and looks up.  Wow.

Thank you for stopping by to read this blog.  I appreciate comments and suggestions.

“Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.”  unknown

 

Morning Snow

Early this morning I stepped outside on the front porch to photograph the snowfall.

snow4The cold wind kept me close to the front door.  Snow had dusted the leaves of a Live Oak.

snow5Probably less than an inch fell, but it’s such a rare event here that it’s mesmerizing.

snow6The rays of the rising sun swept across the trees.

snow7The Chinese Pistasho had a golden glow from the sun.

snow9During the night strong winds formed small snowdrifts with shapes that reminded me of White Sands in New Mexico.

snowaIn the distance the Blue Junipers looked like Christmas trees.

snowb

snowcA snow mound formed over a flowerbed.

snowdDead leaves still clinging to a Red Oak.

snow1The side yard as seen from the back patio revealed snow on only one side of tree trunks.  Maybe it was the wind that woke me at 4 this morning.

In the foreground is a Yaupon Holly.  To the right is a bare branched Red Oak.

snow8One bush beyond the yard looked like white lace.

snowSnow on one side of the Cherry Laurel tree.

snow3More Live Oaks.

snow2Cotton ball snow on tips of Sedum Brilliant dried flowers.

snowfSnow covered Autumn Clematis, which is evergreen.

snowgNice to look at, but not drawing me out into the weather.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Dr. Suess

Fall Color in All Its Glory

The conditions for leaves to turn color in the fall involve the right temperatures at the right times and the right amount of rainfall at the right times.  In the fifteen years that we’ve owned the property, there has been some color, but nothing like this year.  Just spectacular.

autumncolors3This first group of pictures were taken from a state highway as we were driving home from town.  Don’t you love the quaint setting?

autumncolorsSumacs are clustered close to the shed.

autumncolors1Old buildings pose questions to me.  I wonder about the people who lived there – their joys and sorrows.  They represent someone’s life.

autumncolors2All these buildings were on an old homestead.

autumncolors4This next group of pictures were taken on our county road.  All pictures in this post were made on a cloudy misty day.

autumncolors5For a half a mile, this road is flanked by dense trees and vegetation.  It feels like driving through a tunnel of trees.

autumncolors6Not sure if the red leaves are Red Oaks (Quercus texana) or Shin Oaks (Quercus sinuata).   Shin Oaks are also known as White Oak, Scrub Oak, Scalybark Oak or Bigelow Oak.  They tend to be low growing, about 3 to 5 feet tall, and grow so densely that they become a thicket.  They are native to areas that have hard limestone.

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autumncolorsaShiny from the moisture in the air.

autumncolorscThe thin yellow leaves are Prairie Sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) with clusters of berries that the birds love.  They turn red first and fade into this paler color.

autumncolorsdThe trees thin out on this part of the road, partly because they have been cleared by county crews.  I think these are both Red Oaks.

It seems like the colors deepen and change daily or least weekly.

autumncolorseNow we are a mile from our gate entrance.

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autumncolorsmThese photos are made from our front porch.  It’s raining a little harder now.

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autumncolorsiA Chinese Pistache (Pistachia chinensis) in the yard is framed by a native Live Oak.

autumncolorsrIn the distance is a Lombardy Poplar tree in front of a stone cabin on our property.  We use it for extra guest space.  Poplars always seem old fashioned to me – probably because as a child I saw them on farms of relatives.  This tree was here when we bought the property.

autumncolorsjThe best view is from the back porch.  There are several ridges all around our land.  This fence is just around our house and barn to keep out cows and deer.  But everything shown in these photos is on our property.

autumncolorskA Red Oak in the side yard.  The trees in the yard are only two to ten years old.  We chose a building site on a level, raised area up from a creek because we wanted the view.  We’re so glad that we did because the creeks do rise when we get three or more inches in a day or so .

autumncolorsnThe ridge colors are more dramatic than the pictures show.

autumncolorslTo the left in the yard is a small Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi or Quercus glaucoides).  Other common names include blue oak, canyon oak, mountain oak, smoky oak, and rock oak. Most of these common names refer to the tough conditions in central and south Texas where this species are native or are related to its blue–green foliage.

autumncolorsoThe views from inside the house let us enjoy each moment of this wonderful color.

Thank you for reading to this point and letting me share some of the reasons we love living here.  It is a privilege to live in the country after many years in the city.  Of course, there are some inconveniences, like no quick runs to a store for a forgotten item.  But that’s minor compared to the pluses.

“Every time you feel yourself being pulled into other people’s drama, repeat these words: ‘Not my circus, not my monkey’” Polish proverb

Visit to Another Gardener’s Yard

It’s always fun to visit different yards and to get ideas.  The following pictures were all taken at the home of a member of our Garden Club.  This was the final meeting for the year since we take summers off.

mcglothlinyardssThe home is at the edge of Brownwood with a large lot – probably three acres.  This looks back to the street with part of the circular drive between the street and this metal stand.

mcglothlinyarduuThe front part of the yard is probably 3/4 of an acre with lots of native Live Oaks.

mcglothlinyardtyLove the flowers in the chair.

mcglothlinyardzThe front flowerbed against the house is a little wider than average.

mcglothlinyardyyLooks like a Norfolk Pine in the pot.

mcglothlinyardzzManicured plantings.

mcglothlinyardxxLots of container plants in the front and back yards.

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mcglothlinyard1The first impressive sight in the backyard is the huge Live Oaks.

mcglothlinyard3Geraniums, Crocus, Ice Plant, and something I don’t recognize in pots.

mcglothlinyard6I was also struck by the flagstone patios and walkways, making it easy to walk around.  Plus, the lush St. Augustine grass with no weeds was pretty.   I know hungry water consumers are not recommended now.

mcglothlinyard4Beautiful water feature.

mcglothlinyard5This shot makes the yard look cluttered, but it isn’t.  It has a spacious feeling.

mcglothlinyard8There are several seating areas.  In the background, behind a chain link fence is their travel trailer.  The field behind the yard gives a sense of country living.

mcglothlinyard9Lots of hanging baskets.  One of these has begonias.  On the ground is a Boston Fern.

mcglothlinyardaA Pittosporum or Schefflera in the pot?

mcglothlinyardb mcglothlinyardcOn this table is succulents in hypertufa pots.  I think the small pot has Dutchman’s Pipes.

mcglothlinyarddMany groupings of small pots are scattered everywhere.

mcglothlinyardemcglothlinyardfmcglothlinyardgThese pots of begonias are a good way to add instant color.

mcglothlinyardhThe plant in the water in the tub looks like water Iris.

mcglothlinyardjThe garden shed is an attractive design.

mcglothlinyardiA small rain barrel collects water.  Any amount of water collection is a good thing in hot, usually dry Texas.  The heavy rainfall this year is way beyond an anomaly.

mcglothlinyardkInside, the shed is filled with gardening gear.  Not much room to bring in all those potted plants.

mcglothlinyardlA hay container for cattle makes a nifty flower bed.

mcglothlinyardmLooks like some newly planted begonias.

mcglothlinyardnThis corner bed at the back of the yard has Gold Lantana.

mcglothlinyardoProbably another storage shed.

mcglothlinyardpPetunias in a stacked pot holder.

mcglothlinyardrThis is probably a playhouse for grandchildren.

mcglothlinyardsLovely hanging begonias.  Hanging baskets require constant watering in our climate, so I don’t bother with them.

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mcglothlinyardvThis is an understory tree and thus requires shade.  I’d love to have one but don’t have a place for one.

mcglothlinyardwWhat a chore it is to get ready for visitors to one’s home and yard.  Especially, members of a garden club.  There are many newly planted ferns, begonias, and other plants that will not survive the winter.  So they will either have to dig them up or just lose them.

Thanks, Debbie, for letting me take pictures for my blog and for hosting the club.  Everything looked wonderful.

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” Corrie Ten Boom

A Walk Following Freezes

One sunny afternoon a couple of weeks ago, we took a walk through some pastures.

winterwalkLots of tall dried Broomweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) or Broom snakeweed to get through.  Fortunately, cows had made a passable path.

Bloomweed is a prenniel with small yellow flowers from June to October.  It can take over pastures preventing grasses from growing.

It is also toxic to cattle, sheep, and goats.  So Broomweed is not a desirable plant.

winterwalk2Lots of dead grasses shine in the late afternoon sun.

winterwalk3An old plow use to till the soil.  I think.

winterwalk4Don’t know what decade this is from.

winterwalk5Garden chairs like this rusting one can often be seen in “antique” stores.

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winterwalk9This tiny Prairie Verbena still blooming was a surprise.  They are hardy, though.

winterwalkaA Live Oak that has succumbed to Oak Wilt.  A sad reality that is widespread in Texas.

winterwalkb Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) is an evergreen.  I recently read that it’s a good barrier shrub because it is so prickly.

winterwalkcAn overturned old deer blind lies next to a Live Oak.  The low sun provides interesting shadows.

winterwalkdAt the bottom of this dead oak is a deep hole – probably a fox lair.

winterwalkeOne area of our property has some Post Oak trees.  Those are not common here, so the soil must have just enough sand to suit their needs.  Post Oaks are finicky and don’t like human interference.  But their leaf production is prolific.

winterwalkiBare branches with a pretty form.

The small sign beside this tree is one of a Burma Shave style of old road signs.  Our group states that “Life is too short to live in the Metroplex.  Amazing Grace Ranch.”  Although we lived in the metroplex of Ft. Worth/Dallas for over 30 years, our personal lifestyle choice now embraces country living.

winterwalkhThis wagon is from the 1880’s.  Love to muse on where it traveled and what it meant to the survival of someone.

winterwalkj

winterwalkgThis iron brace may have been added later.

Beauty is all around us, even in stark winter.

“Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.”  Doug Larson

Autumn Trees

When fall color is mentioned, Northeastern US is what comes to my mind first.  People flock there every autumn to soak in the beauty of bright oranges, reds, golds and every shade in between.  Surprisingly, we have some of that gorgeous color right here in our own backyard.  It may not be as overwhelming or long lasting, but it is inspiring.

falltrees2Prairie Flameleaf Sumacs (Rhus lanceolata) along the county roads are the first sign of cooler temperatures.  Their orangish red foliage and deep red brown berries signal that winter is coming.falltreesThe trees on the ridge behind our house can change color as early as mid October or as late as mid November.  This year it was late.  In fact, we wondered if there would be any color at all.

falltreeshThe red-orange color comes from Red Oaks and the yellow-orange from Spanish Oaks.

falltrees8Awesome.

falltrees6The lighter oranges or yellow trees are Mesquites or Elms.  Live Oaks and Juniper Cedars stay green all winter and provide a sharp contrast to the other colors.

falltreeskFrom the front of the house we see mostly cedars.

falltreesiThis huge tree is an example of why Texans love their Live Oaks.  The canopies spread out and provide needed shade.

For years, the county extension agents and aborists have recommended that only native trees be planted, with a strong emphasis on oaks.

falltrees5Here is a Texas Red Oak (Quercus buckleyi) that was planted nine years ago.

Red Oaks are in the red or black oak groups.  There are only 15 species in this group.  They typically produce acorns every two years.  Spanish Oaks are also in this group.

falltreescSuch beautiful color.

falltreesbThe brilliant golden red on this particular tree lasts for a good month.  But  we have another tree that was supposed to be a Red Oak that has no color.  The leaves on it turn brown early.  I now  suspect that it is a Pin Oak.  I’ve read that when young, it’s difficult to tell the two apart, and that nurseries often mislabel them.

falltreesfIn the early 1980’s the term Oak Decline took on a ominous meaning as groves of oaks died.  Since then, Oak blight or Oak Wilt has claimed thousands of trees in Texas.  So the powers that be have been recommending diversification.  They suggest planting other types of trees, even those that aren’t native, but have adapted well.

Oaks in the White Oak family have not yet succumb to Oak wilt, so those are still recommended.  The Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) in the above picture falls into that category.  Others in the white oak family that will grow here are Lacey Oak, Bur Oak, Post Oak, and Bigelow Oak.  Bigelow is known as Shin Oak locally and forms thickets that usually only grow up to 10 feet tall.

falltreesdThis is a different Chinapin Oak in our yard.  Notice that the leaves on both trees do not look like a stereotypical oak leaf.

In Texas there are 23 oaks in the white oak group.  These produce acorns annually.

falltreeseThe two Chinapins that we have are tall and skinny looking.  It has taken several years for their branches to widen and have a fuller look.  But I still recommend them.

The benefits of trees form a long list.  Their beauty in different seasons is just one that I appreciate.

“Anyone who thinks women talk too much has never sat through a six-hour Super Bowl pregame show.”      Nora Barry

Autumn’s Gift

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  The foliage colors have been the best this year.   The different shades of yellow, orange, reds… are everywhere.  I see them on the hills, in the pastures, and along the roads.

treescolorcHere’s a flash back to the 80’s:  a fad where ladies “had their colors” done.  It started with Color Me Beautiful by Carol Jackson.  The whole idea was to determine what season you were based on your skin tone and hair color.  The following is from the Color Me Beautiful website:

“Hello, Autumn,
Your natural coloring is fiery, earthy, golden and natural.  The Autumn palette is easy to remember if you think about a beautiful Autumn landscape.  You can wear both muted and rich warm colors like the autumn foliage or exotic spice colors.  You receive compliments in shades of the autumn season:  moss, rust, terra cotta.”

treescolor8Those are definitely not my colors to wear, but I love them in nature.

treescolor7This is the view from the back of our house.  On the hill, most of the reddish colors are Red Oaks or Spanish Oaks.

treescolor9The Elm, Hackberry, and Pecan trees have all been covered in yellow.  But I don’t think this yellow tree is any of them.

treescolorkThis a Chinapin Oak is in our backyard …

treescolor5and a leaf from a Texas Ash …

treescolor4and a Red Oak in the front yard.

treescolorgThe Sumacs are so vivid that they are like magnets drawing my eyes to them.

treescolortreescolor2More Sumacs with their seed clusters.

treescolor3A Chinese Pistacho in the front yard framed by a Live Oak behind it.

treescolorfA Shrub Oak along a county road.

treescolordThe whole color spectrum from red to orange to yellow dot the landscape.

I can’t stop taking pictures.  Everywhere I look deserves a photo.

treescolorzA yellow Popular forms an exclamation mark saying look at the beauty around you.

Okay.  I am forcing myself to stop.   This whole season has been such a treat.

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”  Faith Baldwin