Autumn or Summer?

After weeks of cool, rainy weather, it’s back to hotter days and sunshine.  As we transition from summer to autumn, the plants and trees seem to be confused by the mixed message.

Some Hardy Hibiscus flowers appeared after rain.

And a few Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) have flowered, although they look a little anemic.

Queen Butterflies continue to feed on the blossoms still on the Gregg’s Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii).  And behind that, purple flowers on Mexican Petunia still hang on.

But other plants, like this Firebush (Hamelia patens) are showing Autumn color.  It’s not winter hardy here, so it will go inside.

All the flower clusters on this Moonshine Yarrow (Achillea x moonshine) had died, but the other day, new flowers were glowing in the bright sun.

Trees are the biggest evidence of fall color.  This Red Oak has never looked this red before.  I know it takes a combination of rain and cool weather in certain amounts and a certain amount of time for leaves to change color.  I guess those colder rainy days did the trick.

This Mexican Flame vine is supposed to love the heat and bloom away during the summer.  However, it seems to prefer less heat than advertised and definitely enjoys extra water.

Petunias have always seemed fragile to me, but they have proved to be very hardy and resilient with filtered light.

Chinese Pistachio always has some orange color during the fall.  The leaves of the Eve’s Necklace to the left are turning yellow.

Several rose bushes, like this Double Delight are still producing gorgeous flowers.  This year some of the bushes have been stripped by a brown caterpillar.  I didn’t realize this until too late.  Most of those bushes are David Austin roses.  It’s all a mystery to me.

This small Shantung Maple tree struggled for many years to live during our extremely hot summers.  Each year it holds its leaves a little longer.  Most of the leaves from the upper branches are now on the ground.

Rock Rose (Pavonia Malvaceae) and Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) still have flowers.  Both of these plants are so hardy – perfect for our area.

Lovely Dianthus blooms a long time.  Of course, this one would have more flowers if I was diligent about deadheading.

Surprisingly, African Orange Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) from South Africa hasn’t suffered from some colder nights.  All of these tropical or semi-tropical plants will have to go inside soon.

Looking out into the fields, a bright spot of color is unexpected among all the dead brush.  This Sumac is from the Rhus family.  Some Sumacs are poisonous, but I don’t know if this variety is.

In another direction, some leaves are turning.  The full pond is a welcome gift from all the recent rains.

Don’t you love this time of the year!

“When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.”  Minnie Aumonier

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

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