Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fall Color in Texas?

There are those folk who move to Texas and then spend a fair amount of their time here complaining about the ways things are.
I get the impulse.  Complaining isn't just ragging about a problem, it is also a form of reverse bragging.  When I talk about the tough situations I am dealing with here, or things I am doing without, I am not so much calling into question my original decision to live here as I am inviting you to admire me for my strength of character.

Fact of the matter, you live in one place you have to worry about hurricanes.  Or earthquakes.  You live in some other place you don't do anything but read about other people's hurricanes and/or earthquakes (though hopefully not both in one place).

One of the major complaints about living in Texas for gardening types, once you get past the season of Death Star Dominance running May through mid September or so, is that there is not a lot of "Fall Color".

The Central Texas tree line is dominated by so many oak and juniper trees with their green all winter status that even though creeper vines, sumac and cedar elm trees do their best to give us a few pops of yellow and orange and occasionally red?  We simply do not get a brilliant display of leaves in Fall colors the way other parts of the country enjoy.

As a native who moved away and then returned, I've seen in other places what others are saying they are missing here every Autumn.  But.

I would propose to you that there IS indeed some Fall Color in Texas.  I will offer to you there is a color I have named specifically for this time of year when cooling temperatures can (though they aren't this year!) bring rain, and all the plants seem to breathe a little easier for having survived another August/September.
The predominant fall color in my yard is.....Gratitude GREEN.  And I am grateful for every bit of it after the heat we had and the drought we are still having.
Other than that?  We Texans can simply aim our eyebeams downwards a bit and thoroughly enjoy the riotous Autumn blooms of Salvia and Cosmos, remaining reddening peppers, yellowing Meyer lemons......
Another way we Texans cope is by taking color provision into our own hands.  Keeping in mind the likelihood our drought/water issues are here to stay, we have created some extra xeric color for year 'round.  
This triangular bed, aside from being a dramatic shape that grabs attention for all its angularity, provides pops of color we especially appreciate in the Fall and Winter months, when the rest of the garden action is a bit more subdued.  The mulch for the bed has been created from shards of our own broken plates, a couple of retired coffee mugs, and any gaps were then filled in using thrift store plates and saucers.

Part art, part family china history lesson.
Occasionally I rearrange the colors.  That can be predictably tedious.  Usually I simply try to recreate a somewhat uniform covering after pulling a weed, say, or after disruption from insects or armadillos or both, without being too tied to any particular design.  The mosaic will tolerate being carefully stepped upon in an emergency, but mostly I try to keep my clodhoppers off and out of this bed as I do in any other.

The shards are laid out on and gently pressed into a bed of gravel so they allow water to percolate through and can be raked up and out of the way if the need arises.  The broken plate mulch mosaic does not fade in the sun (though it can get dusty!) nor does it require any particular temperature ranges or supplemental water for support.  I'll admit, I'm quite smitten.

So.  Fall Color?  Yup.  We've got that covered.

One final note today.  I realized as I pulled the following photo out to post, that I will have little room to criticize a certain political candidate who experienced a 53 second long "human moment" as part of a televised national debate recently.
What IS this????
I must have planted this vine, or at least scattered seeds for it at some point last Spring or early last Summer.  That much I vaguely recall.  The vine has climbed up out on top of a bank of leggy tropical salvia surrounding it on a slope in the front beds. The 2-3 inch wide, delicate ghostly white blooms appear, one at a time, suspended above the salvia tops opening during the morning hours.  

I have no idea what the name of this is unfortunately, can't remember to save my life.  Will it be back next year on its own or if I should try to be harvesting seeds....?  No clue. 
Help a gal out if you know what this is?  It would be mighty neighborly of you.  


  1. I LOVE your mosaic bed! What a fabulous idea--who doesn't have broken dishes from time to time?

    Like your gratitude green too. Even more with last week's rain.

    The fall plant color here is red possumhaw holly berries (for trees that got enough watering in summer), yellow-orange-red flameleaf sumac leaves, sunshine yellow copper canyon daisies and golden mexican tarragon blooms.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

  2. Kat! Always good to have you drop in. Your fall colors sound so lovely to these native Texan ears (how about that for a mangled metaphor...).

    We had a lovely small day, just the way we like it. Hope your celebration(s) were warming and welcoming and just the ticket for you and yours.


About Me

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.