A Dramatic Entrance

What?  An ice storm before Thanksgiving.  Temperatures in the 70’s would be more usual.  So winter has made a grand entrance.

icestorm2The orange-gold leaves of a Chinese Pistachio covered with an icy lace.

icestormTwo Crape Myrtles become stark white.

icestorm3Notice the ice on the ground under this leaning Ratama.  It was sweeping the grass in a stooped manner before I took a small hammer and knocked off as much ice as possible.  I really, really, want this little tree to survive.

icestorm4But this Desert Willow did collapse.  It already had a weakened root system.  We left the stakes and ropes around it too long.  Plus, it got too much water in the flowerbed.  I’ll miss the beautiful orchid-like flowers.  So we’ll take this lesson to heart.

icestorm5Branches of a different Chinese Pistachio hang low.

icestorm6The ice is thick on this Blue Curls bush.

icestorm7Ice emphasizes the structure of a plant and makes it beautiful in another dimension.

icestorm8The top of the pergola takes on an artistic look.

icestorm9Yellow leaves and branches of this Hackberry are crusted with ice.

icestormaAny blade, large or small, presents a perfect surface for ice to coat.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and your family.  May you be blessed and be a blessing as you gives thanks for every good gift from above.

“How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age.  Thanksgiving opens the door.  It changes a child’s personality.  A child is resentful, negative – or thankful.  Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people.”  Sir John Templeton

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

Pops of Color

The warm weather continues with some record-breaking highs.  Still no rain.  Both of these circumstances are cause for concern around here.  And yet, some flowers in the yard are still hanging on.

This Bottle Brush Bush (Callistemon) was planted in the spring.  When it blooms, it is covered with bright red blooms.   But there are long periods in between these flowering times.  I’m not sure if that is characteristic or due to weather conditions here.

Today the blooms are not as full and colorful as they were earlier in the year.

The flowers really do look just like a brush used to clean narrow necked bottles.  It needs full sun, which is perfect for my yard.

Early in autumn, the first noticeable change in the Chinese Pitasche  (Pistacia chinensis) tree is the appearance of orangish red berries.

Then the leaves turn this golden color.

Finally,  the leaves sport a bright orange hue before they turn brown and drop off.

The golden leaves of this small elm have defied the wind and remained on the branches.

A Chinapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) in our yard is covered with orange and yellow leaves.  The color is seen on the branch in the left of the picture.  In the distance the burnt orange tree is a sumac.The blooms on this False Foxglove (Agalinis) surprised me the other day.  In the spring I transplanted it from a bar ditch on our county road.  Late spring is the normal blooming time for this wildflower.  I guess this warm weather and water from the sprinkler system has confused it.  But I’m so glad it survived the move.

Most of the leaves and blooms on this Morning Glory Tree (I. arborescens) bit the dust after the first freeze.  Just one branch bravely blooms on.

A Spanish Oak looks like it’s on fire in the late afternoon sun.

This is the third autumn for this Possum Haw, and the first time there have been berries.  I was beginning to worry that it was a male plant and wouldn’t produce berries.  They are smaller than I expected but a nice sight.

I wish I knew what kind of tree this is.  This one grows beside a county road near a dry creek bed.  I love the yellow berry clusters.

Update – a couple of readers tell me that this is a Chinaberry Tree.

The berries actually look like dry pods. It’s a smallish tree.  When you look up, it has great composition with a clear blue sky behind it and bunches of pale yellow berries at the ends of the branches.

“The whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color.”  Hans Hoffman

Chinese Pistacho

We built our house on a rise so that there would be no problem with flooding from the creek and because we wanted a breeze.  Going up in elevation, we are about 100 yards from the creek.   So guess how many times we’ve had problems with flood water since we’ve been here.  Right.  Zero.  But It could happen .

Then, there’s the breeze.  What we actually have is a gale most days.  All this to say that we choose our building site based on those two factors, not on shade trees.  There are plenty of places with groves of native oaks we could have chosen.

The view is great here, and we love that.

But here we were with a yard that needed shade trees.  So we proceeded to acquire trees.  This was a chance to get some types of trees that we’d never had before.   We moved into the house in Jan. of 2005.  In early spring we had three trees – two oaks and a Chinese Pistachio – planted.

This Chinese Pistasho is in the front yard and most times has a lovely shape.  Sometimes in a growth spurt it has some crazy shoots like the branch on the top left of the tree pop out.  It also has a tendency to have some low hanging branches.  We cut them off if they interfere with mowing.

Chinese Pistasho or Pistache, Pistacia chinensis, is winter hardy and long lived.  Best of all, it is drought and soil tolerant.  In the fall the leaves turn a red orange.  The average height is 10 – 40′ tall.  This one is probably 12′ now.

In the spring, there are clusters of white flowers  before the new leaves emerge.  The inedible fruits are small, about 1/4″ in diameter.  They start out red but turn dark blue-black.

In 2007 we had another Chinese Pistachio planted in the back yard.  We have bought most of our trees from someone who has a tree farm about 35 miles away.  He’s also willing to dig the holes and plant them for a fee.  Big plus factor.

This is the one in the back.  Looks like a fan with too few ribs.  But now view it from another angle.

Can you make out the narrow shape?  There is a large native oak behind it.  Try to ignore that.

This crazy tree can make me laugh at how ridiculous it looks or sometimes I shake my head and sigh with disappointment.  I guess it depends on my mood that day.  My husband is the eternal optimist and assures me that  branches will  grow out to balance it.  He has been saying that for five years.

The brown spots on the trees are not dead leaves but clusters of the berries.

In spite of the cockeyed shape of the one tree, we do like Chinese Pistasho, especially the fall color and the thick shade it provides.

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.  The next best time is now.”  Chinese proverb