Saturday, October 28, 2006

More Signs of Fall

Here are a few more photos celebrating the season.

First is this photo of a painted lady feeding on the asters in the wood nymph garden. (It's hard to see because I was fairly far away, but the butterfly is almost exactly in the middle of the frame.) While this isn't the best picture of a painted lady, it commemorates two other neat phenomena. First, this is the first painted lady that I remember seeing in my garden this year, despite all of the other butterflies that have made this yard their home. Second, although I haven't been able to capture it in a photograph, these asters are positively bouncing and humming with insect life right now. There are literally hundreds of bumble bees and skippers moving constantly from flower to flower, with occasional other butterflies and insects joining in the feeding frenzy. It's stunning to watch.

Next is this photo of a native, fall-blooming tickseed, Coreopsis integrifolia 'Chipola River', blooming beside one of the paths in the yard. These coreopsis have proven to be extremely happy in their bed, and I have debated all year long as to whether I should thin them out and rein them in. Now that they are blooming so cheerfully, I'm glad that I resisted the impulse. There's time enough to redefine their limits when cold weather comes.

Although the flowers seem full of life still, the half-century fountain shows a different side of the season. Full of fallen pine needles, dead dogwood leaves and bright red dogwood berries, it is almost a quintessential picture of autumn's movement towards winter's quiet.

"Show Condition" and Showing Off

It's been over a month since I posted, but I have a reasonably good excuse: we've put the house on the market and I've been frantically trying to get it in "show" condition and maintain it that way.

Now, as those of you who know me are well aware, I'm not a "show condition" sort of person, so this has been rather stressful. But I'm surviving. More tellingly, so are Prairiewolf and all the animals.

I've finally decided that it's time to quit worrying quite so much and start enjoying my life and my garden again. With that in mind, I've started taking a few photos and thought I'd share ("show off") a few of them....

First, here is my wood nymph, contemplating life's bounties while surrounded by a bonanza of fall flowers.

Next, here is the "outback" seating area as seen from the deck, showing off the yard's new openness which is compliments of the post-Katrina beetle infestation. Luckily (and I'm knocking on wood as I say this), the beetle infestation seems to be over for now. The remaining pines look wonderfully healthy.

Last but not least for this post, the pink flower is a Confederate rose - actually sort of a cousin to the rose-of-sharon or althea. Its scientific name is Hibiscus mutabilis (althea's scientific name is Hibiscus syriacus), and the blooms are supposed to open white and then change color to pink and finally to red. Mine, however, opens this pretty pink and seems to enjoy the color enough to stay the exact same shade until the flower gets tired and falls off. Xanthy gave me the start to this beautiful plant a couple years ago, but this is the first year it's bloomed. Ivan toppled it in 2004 and Katrina stripped it bare in 2005. It's a survivor, though, and is now about 12-15' tall and covered with blooms.

It's hard to believe with all the blooms in the yard, but fall is fully here and winter is just around the corner. It will be interesting to see how much longer I continue as the custodian of this garden. It will be hard to leave and turn over guardianship to another, but that's been in the cards since the first day we moved in. Meanwhile, I have vowed to just enjoy the time I have left - and to see what lessons are still waiting for me to learn here before I go.