Monday, November 15, 2010

The Glorious Colors of Fall

Is there any more rewarding season for a Florida gardener than Fall?

Our natural Christmas tree, the East Palatka holly!
Sure, Spring is the season for birth and renewal, but to me Fall is just as worthy of rejoicing -- for the welcome reprieve it provides after our interminable, energy-sapping summers; for the shorter days that force us to slow our hectic pace just a little; and for the rich cornucopia of color that nature brings to this wonderful time of transition.

Cosmos, one of my favorite flowers
This is the first Fall with our new, bay-friendly yard and what a treat it has been! Our East Palatka holly trees are bursting with red berries, just in time for the holidays. The beautyberry in the front yard is laden with clusters of purple. Our muhly grass is showing off its feathery pink plumes. And many of our butterfly plants are still blooming, including the firebush, hummingbird mint, porterweed, pentas, narrow-leaved sunflowers and the lovely, delicate orange cosmos.

Even the patio pink lemon tree on our deck is full of blossoms that smell heavenly every time I walk past.

Beautyberry, a Florida native
This burst of color and fragrance is accompanied by a temporary farewell to some of my favorites -- plants that are deciduous or otherwise go dormant during the winter. My beloved chaste tree with its upright purple blossoms is now nearly as naked as when we bought it last March. Pretty soon it will look like Charlie Brown's pathetic, spindly Christmas tree! 

The chickasaw plum seedling, which is now about two feet high, is also beginning to lose its leaves after more than tripling in size over the summer.

And the beautiful lady slippers and butterfly wings are gradually disappearing from view completely, prompting me to stick a few plant labels in the ground where they are hiding so I remember where they are.

All of these will return next Spring, to surprise us with a new infusion of color and texture.  But for now, we are still content to gaze at our glorious Fall Foliage as we sit on our deck and enjoy our beautiful, bay-friendly landscape.

A hummingbird moth feeding on a penta. Several of these fascinating moths visited our butterfly garden at dusk early this fall. They look just like miniature hummingbirds!