A Touch of Autumn Color

Autumn color in central Texas is definitely different than in other parts of the U.S., especially, the northeast.

The first obvious color is Prairie Flameleaf Sumac (Rhus lanceolata) that forms colonies in limestone.

The wind can quickly blow off the leaves, leaving a somewhat bare tree with its heavy seed clusters.  Recently a friend of mine was trimming branches above her head and didn’t realize that she was standing in poison sumac.  Made me wonder how one can tell the difference between the poisonous and nonpoisonous.

 This web site shows pictures and descriptions of Poison Sumac.

But that’s like remembering which snakes look like poisonous ones and which ones are poisonous in the heat of the moment.

So I’ll try to remember to enjoy Sumac from a distance.

One of my favorite trees in our yard is Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis).  It’s a pretty tree any time of the year, although it does require some shaping as the lower limbs grow downward.

Just to show how recommendations change, Chinese Pistache was once considered too invasive.  Now it’s a Texas Superstar tree.  In my book, it’s a winner.

Its autumn color gives me a sense of season, even if the temperatures waffle from cool to hot.

The light and wind seem to give it a different color each day.

The berries have a somber look when it’s cloudy.

Or bright and shiny when sunlight hits them.

The leaves on the Texas Maple turned yellow before the wind snatched them away.  Not sure exactly which type of maple this is.  The man who bought it and planted it got what was available.  I should have asked more information.

With the inconsistent temperatures, the Yellow Lead Ball tree (Leucaena retusa) looks like spring and fall at the same time.  The yellow puffy balls have returned while the seed pods dry and drop.  This is a Texas native and has done well in our yard.

Yellow pom-poms make this a festive sight.

Red Oaks can turn a deep red or burnt orange like this one.  Autumn leaves with Showbiz red roses blooming in a pot and evergreen cedars in the background – that’s our fall.

This wispy Copper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) tends to bloom in late summer or early fall.  But this year, the flowers came late.  The bush doesn’t look like much.

But up close, the bright dainty flowers are pretty.  This bush has a sharp, nose wrinkling smell, so it should be planted away from the house.

A native in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northern Mexico, it adapts well to our soil and climate.

Re-blooming Irises have also shown their flowers late this year.  The Strawberry Gompheras  or Globe Amaranths (Gomphrena globosa) will continue to bloom until the first freeze.

Texas Ash (Fraxinus texensis) joins in the color parade.

Red Robins flew in for a quick visit one cloudy day.  They never wear out their welcome.

Hope your fall has been colorful and enjoyable.  It’s the time of year for being thankful and for spending time with friends and family.

“Being married means mostly shouting ‘What?’ from other rooms.”  unknown

What’s Winter?

“This weather is crazy.”  is a comment heard often around here.  It is so true.  Last autumn weather forecasters promised a cold and wet winter.  Did not happen.

We only had one cold spell here that lasted a few days, but it was enough to freeze everything.  I’ve been to the metroplex area this month.  It still looks like the fall with no freeze damage at all.

earlyspringIt’s a little early for this bulb flower to open up.  This is the third year this bulb has bloomed, and it has always been close to the ground.  Still, I think it’s Vuurbaak Hyacinth ‘Fire Beacon’, which was popular with the Victorians.  They’re known to bloom in early spring but should be taller.

If this ID is incorrect, I don’t know what it is.

earlyspring2

earlyspring4Just a few daffodils have opened in my yard, but I’ve seen several flowerbeds in Brownwood with lots of blooms.

earlyspring5The Flat Leaf Parsley is already spreading.  In fact, I’m not sure it died back completely.

earlyspringaNow to be brutally honest, the weeds, like these Henbit, are growing fast and furiously. These don’t really bother me.  In fact, I heard that their presence means a well-balance soil.  Doesn’t make sense to me.

earlyspringbAnd the bane of my life, Common Sowthistles (Sonchus oleraceus) are healthy and growing like weeds.  Ha, ha.  A recent post on Central Texas Gardener stated that these could be used to make a tea.  Really?

earlyspring3Even some of the trees are responding to this warm weather.  This Texas Ash is leafing out, which makes me nervous because we could have a late freeze.  Typically (if there is any such thing in Texas) we have a freeze around Easter.

earlyspring7It’s not unusual for this Texas Quince to have flowers this early.  In fact, it needs some cold weather.

earlyspring8The Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) has tons of leaves already.

earlyspring9This is the one that really worries me.  This small flowering bush/tree has struggled for three years and losses it leaves in late summer.  So a freeze could really set it back.

earlyspringcIce Plant flowers on dead stems.  How crazy is that?

About the only thing for certain about Texas weather is that it is super hot in summer.  And I don’t use that term as it applies to teenage idols.

“Teach your children to love cattle and they will never have money for drugs.”  unknown

Ice, Again

Most of the nation is in the same boat with this winter storm.  It’s cold, icy, and dangerous out there.  So this is the fourth day we’ve been inside.  And cabin fever has descended.

Okay.  Okay.  The temperatures are much colder, the winter much longer, and the ice much thicker in many northern states.  But I purposely do not live in those areas.

snowiceAfter hearing sleet fall most of Wednesday night, on Thursday morning we awoke to what is referred to as a “winter wonderland”.  Except, that white stuff is deceiving.  Instead of snow, it is ice with a fine coating of snow powder.

snowice2Beside the flowerbed, there is a hidden sidewalk.  It’s also a hidden menace.

snowice3Thursday was overcast and in the low 20’s.  This is the first year that the Shantung Maple (Acer truncatum) has retained its yellow leaves past the heat of August.  It’s a reassuring sight that I hope means its roots have become established.

snowice4This Texas Ash or Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) also has kept its leaves through many high winds.

snowice5A snow/ice covered road on the ridge looks fun to travel on, but it’s iffy even in good weather.

snowice6Love this evergreen Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana).

snowice7On Saturday the sunlight peeked out of the clouds long enough to make shadows on the white ground.  This small Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) had long shadows at midday.

snowice8Today, Sunday, the temperature rose to 37 by noontime.  Skittering leaves travel above the hard packed ice.

snowiceaTo keep from going stir crazy, we take a walk.

We didn’t slip, slide too much.  In the sun, the ice had melted just enough to walk on.  In the shady areas, it was still slick.

snowice9Tonight this will all freeze again.  It will probably still be too treacherous to travel tomorrow.

This has been an unusual weather year for us.  In January we had ice, but that’s when we usually have some cold weather and ice.  In November and December we had ice storms.  In my mind, the snow storm while we were in South Dakata  in October counts for us, too.  Now the question is:  what do the coming winter months have in store for us?

Update – today, Monday, Dec. 9:

fog1213Still have the ice.  Now a heavy fog and icy wind is forming ice on the trees.

fog1213bIf ice forms on the power lines, it could mean a power outage.  It looks like we’ll be here for awhile.  So glad we bought groceries and propane for the fireplace.

“Username or Password is Incorrect.”  Well.  At least tell me which one it is.  – T shirt humor