Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Every Thing There is a Season

When I snapped these photos on Saturday morning, the temperature was in the upper 30s and there was a touch of frost on the roof.

The cooler weather seems to intensify the colors of the prairie flowers that are still blooming. Other flowers, like the Liatris, bloomed over the last month and now their colors are fading. 

The cool, morning moisture deepens the now coppery colors of the Little Bluestem grass.

Autumn Sage, Mealycup Sage, and Four Nerve Daisy bloomed throughout most of the summer and they continue to bloom through the autumn months. But there are some plants that waited all season for their time to bloom. These are the last plants to bloom on my prairie before frost changes all the vibrant colors to brown. 

The purple flowers of Aromatic Aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, (foreground) and the white flowers of Fragrant Mistflower, Eupatorium havanense, (background) started to appear a couple of weeks ago and now the plants are in full bloom. The flowers of both plants are popular with the bees once the sun warms the air. 

Here is a closer look at the Fragrant Mistflower bush. The plant does not get much attention most of the year, but when fall comes around, it catches the eye with its profusion of white flowers and the nose with its strong scent that reminds me of dryer sheets. 

Fragrant Mistflower intermingled with Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccinea.

A close up of the Aromatic Aster with Autumn Sage in the background.

Willowleaf Aster, Symphyotrichum praealtum, is covered in pink flowers. It grew from a single sprig to a four foot patch in just a couple of seasons. Its days may be numbered if it continues aggressively expand its footprint. 

Here is a close up of the Willowleaf Aster flowers.

The large red flowers of Mountain Sage, Salvia regla, would be popular with hummingbirds if they were still in the area. Mountain Sage probably blooms at just the right time to feed migrating hummingbirds in its native range from the Chisos Mountains of west Texas and into Mexico. This is one salvia that prefers some afternoon shade. Mine gets full afternoon sun which causes the leaves to turn a little yellowish. 

Mountain Sage, Beebrush and Mealycup Sage make a patriotic red, white and blue display. A rain and hail shower a week ago triggered another fragrant flush of flowers on the Beebrush.

The spiny Eringo flowers are still interesting as they fade from purple to brown. Since this is an annual, I take the seeds from the dried flowers and scatter them across the prairie for another season of flowers.

The chile pequins, Capsicum annuum, are covered in pea-sized peppers. The peppers are a treat for mockingbirds and are gobbled up whole once they turn red. 

Winecup, Callirhoe involucrata, blooms in early summer and then most of the trailing stems die back in the heat of the summer. In the fall, a rosette forms and stays green throughout the winter. This plant produced a rare late season bloom. 

The cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours tricked the Redbud tree into blooming out of season. 

As the seasons change, frost and freezing temperatures will eventually change the reds, yellows, blues, purples, and whites in my prairie to various shades of brown. All the while, new life is sprouting in the prairie. The fuzzy leaves of Bluebonnet seedlings bring hope of flowers in the spring. The heart-shaped leaves of Dichondra bring promise of many more seasons on my hands and knees plucking them from my prairies.


  1. Beautiful! The fragrant mistflower looks so good with the scarlet sage.

    Looking forward to each season in your garden.

  2. We planted Dichondra, and it died. But recently a flourishing patch appeared. It seems I will have to keep an eye on it in future?

  3. I hate dichondra in my garden, too. I can't seem to always get every piece of it, so it continues to come back. Your garden is absolutely beautiful. Beautiful colors.

  4. Oh, yes! Among all the splendor appears the dreaded dichondra.... Hands and knees is the sad truth.

  5. Thanks so much for the clear photos and insights.

  6. Thanks Shirley. I liked the red and white combination too. It reminds me of candy canes.

    Elephant’s Eye, around here Dichondra is a lawn weed. It is an enemy from my days of having a lawn. I considered leaving it since there are native varieties (not sure if this one is or not), but I just could not bring myself to accept an enemy in my prairie. Interestingly, people grow Dichondra as a lawn. There is a silver leafed variety called Silver Ponyfoot that is popular in gardens. I like the look, but it is still a weed to me.

    HolleyGarden, I did not have much of an issue with Dichondra earlier this year. Conditions must be perfect for them now because I have them sprouting everywhere! I hope you are enjoying your garden as much as I am right now. I wish this season could go on longer, but we are just a couple of weeks away from the date of our first hard frost.

    Margaret, I see that you are acquainted with my enemy. I wish the neighborhood rabbits would develop a taste for Dichondra instead of all the plants that I want to grow.

    Thanks Collagemama. I follow the point and shoot and shoot and shoot school of photography

  7. Beautiful photos! Like your redbud, my lilac bush has been tricked into re-blooming and putting out new leaf growth. I'm hoping the oncoming winter doesn't damage it too much.

    Would this Saturday around noon work for my visit to the prairie? The weather is supposed to be nice...thanks!

  8. Love the Willowleaf Aster even if it does overflow the space. Think I'll add it to my want list along with a several of your 2011 survivors.

  9. Absolutely wonderful...and so evocative of autumn. All those Asters are just wonderful...such bounty after such a long, hot summer. Seriously, there are few plants I find as beautiful as Little Bluestem...all those colors...just kills me!

  10. Scott, the LBS is one of my favorites and I prefer the current colors to the summer blue-green color. All of the end of season flowers and colors have been amazing this year.

  11. WOW! Just WOW! We recently bought some acreage outside of Houston for a weekend place/future retirement place and I found your blog by visiting Donald's blog after he visited mine. Ha isn't that the way all great things are found? By accident? LOL! Anyway, your blog is making me rethink some of yard plans. I've got barren dirt (thanks to the drought) all around the house now and I'm thinking that it might be time to do something native next Spring. I'm going to be pouring all over your blog later tonight when I get home. :-)

  12. Thanks 1st Man. I briefly stopped by your place this morning after seeing your comment on Donald's blog. I will be checking in again.

    A prairie would look great on some acreage. You probably already have a lot of native plants just waiting for the opportunity to grow.

    Native plants are the way to go. Mine went dormant in the heat and drought of the summer, but they really bounced back once we got a bit of rain and the temperatures cooled down. I hope you can find some useful information on my blog.

  13. Thanks for all the great inspiration! I'm curious...any feedback from your neighborhood on your prairie? Do you have any haters?

  14. Anonymous, I am sure some of the neighbors are not crazy about the prairie, but any negative comments have never made it back to me. I do get periodic positive comments from passersby. A neighbor told me a couple of weeks ago that his wife was starting to like my prairie. Maybe it just takes time to accept something different.

  15. Looking great! My yard is in full bloom too. And my bluebonnets reseed like mad. I cannot wait for next spring! I have them everywhere. I had to pull some away from a couple of smaller agaves just so they don't smother them.


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