Entries in fall (12)


Acers for Amazing Fall Foliage

Today I had to take a breath and gaze in wonder when I stepped outside.For spectacular fall foliage, acers must be at the top of the list, and my property is blessed with about twenty of them. Most are Japanese maples. Some of these acers have fancy, hard to pronounce names, for which I paid more than I want to remember. Others are inexpensive, unnamed seedlings I planted in 1990, after a tornado wiped out the center of our property. My landscaping budget at the time was zero, because our heavily damaged house was taking all our money, and even a few tiny trees was a stretch. But now the humble seedlings have matured into magnificent specimens, as beautiful as any with grandiose pedigrees. I say I made a good investment!The red-orange foliage of the tree in the center of this view at the edge of the woodland garden belongs to 'Orido Nishiki.'

'Orido Nishiki' from inside the woodland garden

This is our "Marriage Tree." It was about four feet tall when it survived the tornado that brought down enormous trees all around it in 1990.

One of the unnamed seedlings that has grown into a beauty

As you can see, acer fall foliage comes in a wonderful variety of colors, ranging from gold to orange to ruby-red to burgundy. Many trees show multiple colors. They are incredible when backlit by the sun.

All of these beautiful leaves will soon be on the ground. We have many trees on our property, and we have already begun the months-long chore of raking our lawns and paths, as well as brushing fallen foliage off of shrubs. It is a labor of bittersweet love and joy. (And very good exercise!)



October's End: the Good and Bad

I will begin with the bad:

This is a recent news photo of Lake Purdy, from which Birmingham, Alabama gets its water. Residents of Birmingham and its suburbs are under strict, mandatory water restrictions because of the drought that has extended for over two months, with no end in sight. I live about twenty miles south of Birmingham, and we get our water from other sources, mainly from underground aquifers. We have not yet been hit with mandatory restrictions; but with some doomsayers predicting the drought to continue through the end of the year, I can feel the restrictions coming. Helena has not had a drop of rain in October, and we only had a few drops in September. The drought has been especially bad because of daytime temperatures continuing well into the 80's every day.

Meanwhile, we try to keep important shrubs watered, but with 3.5 acres, it is impossible and prohibitively expensive to water everything. Many leaves look like this:Fothergilla normally has beautiful fall foliage. Not this year!

But here is the good! Despite the drought, there is still beauty out there, especially if one looks through the golden light of late afternoon. So here is a tour. This is likely to be as good as it gets until rain returns.

I will begin with fall flowers:This area by the front walk is brightened by various salvias, lantana and gomphrena. I planted the red snapdragons on the right a year ago. They survived last winter and continued to bloom all this year.They are still going strong. Amazing!Autumn sage and blue salvia

'Black and Bloom' salviaClockwise from top left: Marigold; Asters; Mexican Sage; 'Endless Summer' hydrangea.

This creamy lantana is another low maintenance, front garden bloomer.Most of the Asclepias (butterfly weed) has finished blooming, but I came across these seed pods the other day:

Firebush is still blooming, but I am beginning to see seed pods on that plant, too:

One day I brightened my patio with some leftover cut zinnias from the grocery store; I stuck them in a vase with a spray of Mexican sage.:

Here are random views from around the garden:

Forsythia (Yellow bells) is a common shrub with lovely fall colors, even during drought. This plant never gets supplemental water.

This wren hangs around our patio.

An ancient muscadine vine grows in the woodland garden.
Clockwise from top: Japanese maple; Southern Magnolia; Alabama Croton.

Do you see the bug on the hickory nut shell?

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Blessings to you all, Deb