Fall Colors and Confused Plants


We have had a delightful fall once October started. Still dry as a bone, but the cooler weather, especially the cooler nights, have helped the plants immensely. I can almost hear them give a big sigh of relief without the searing, killing heat of the summer. The Pyracanthea is in full berry right now, a definitive harbinger of autumn. This hardy tree is struggling, though you might not know it. It was overgrown and out of control when I bought the house, and the thorns were terrible. I cut it back tremendously two years in a row, and then I tied it up to the house so it would stand upright and away from passersby. All of the changes put it into shock, and I’m not sure if it will ever recover at this point. The top half completely died away. However, I actually like the smaller size of it now, if it will fill in through the branches.

If I didn’t know better, though, I would think this was spring! My yard seems to be suffering from a rampant case of Seasonal Confusion Syndrome (SCS).

This Photinia sends out new red leaves every spring, and apparently occasionally in the fall in years when we jumped from winter to summer with no Spring. I love those colors, even though I don’t love the tree because of its tendency toward diseases and short life.

I took advantage of fall planting season to plant a new bed of Bicolor Butterfly Iris. I was pleased with myself that I had prepared the bed in August, cleaned it up and laid on a 3″ layer of organic compost from Natural Gardener. That bed is healthy! The Iris obviously agrees, as it sent up a bloom – again, an early spring bloomer under normal circumstances.

I have lived in this home for 9 years now, and this Mock Orange blooms beautifully every March. In fact, it’s one of my early indicators that the Spring Garden has awakened. Last week, it sent out this single bloom! What’s happening in my yard? Is it a time warp? Something wacky in the space-time continuum?

This Loropetulum blooms every Spring AND Fall, so it seems to be acting normal.

Another look at the Pyracanthea.

And the remaining berries on the Beautyberry.

And perhaps it isn’t confused plants I’m seeing, but a confused Gardener looking at nature’s impromptu celebration? We didn’t have Spring this year, rather we jumped into the worst Summer in over 50 years in Austin. These plants are feeling frisky in the welcome weather, just like we are. What Fall/Spring things are happening in your yard????

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4 thoughts on “Fall Colors and Confused Plants

  1. These are some beautiful pictures of the confused flowers. I agree some of the plants are confused. Maybe the long season? Good spring and late fall?

    Tina, thanks for the compliments. Your site shows some amazing craftwork for your Fall colors. And actually, we had no Spring and early Fall, which I’m attributing the confusion to. Robin

  2. Your plants are confused! But I think you hit the nail on the head — they didn’t get a Spring, so they are taking advantage of this nice weather for a change. Love that iris photo – I’ve never seen a bloom that looks like that on one, do you know what kind it is?

    Diana, I realized that I did a faux pas that I often do – confuse Bicolor Iris with Butterfly Iris! I have both in my yard, and I often mistakenly interchange the names. I’ve corrected it now on the post, and now perhaps the bloom will make more sense to you. Apparently it isn’t only the plants that are confused! Robin

  3. My plants are confused, too. I have blooms on some of my spring-flowering trees, like my redbud (though that one’s always been a crappy spring bloomer for me) and on the anacacho orchid tree. I have flowers on one of the loropetulums, too, but I had no idea that they bloomed twice a year. 😉

    By the way, do you have your loropetulum in sun or shade? The ones I grow in shade look great, but the ones in the sun…oh, they’re sad. And I thought they were a sun plant. Same with the japanese barberries, which lost all of their leaves in the sun and generally up and died. I’ve been having some weird luck with plants this year.

    Lori, apparently SCS is contagious! I have Loropetulum in both sun and shade. The ones in shade grow beautifully, but don’t bloom. The ones in the sun look sad, but they bloom. What to do about that? I love the leaves on the ones in the shade, they stay more purple. My Abelia really struggled this year in the sun, too, even with watering. I can’t believe your Redbud is blooming, though! My Primrose Jasmine also gave me a bloom a couple of weeks ago.

  4. After a dry, hot summer in Illinois, there’d always be a few flowers on Mountain Ash trees and a few other spring bloomers like forsythia. It never seemed to stop spring bloom or hurt the plants – just a response to cool weather.
    I can’t believe you still have Beauty berries, Robin! The birds ate all the beauty berries in my garden months ago. It looks like they’ve stripped neighborhood nandinas of their berries, too.
    My loropetalum grows in shade but doesn’t bloom – guess I’ll have to plant a second one in sun to see flowers like yours.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Annie, thanks, I’m glad to know it doesn’t affect the spring blooms. I feel badly for my poor plants for the summer they had to endure this year, so I don’t blame them for rejoicing in the cooler weather! For some reason, I have plenty of berries still left, even though the birds are singing out there every day. My Pyracanthea is always covered in berries in the fall (my harbinger of real fall), and the nandinas keep their berries all winter. It’s my first year for the Beautyberry, so I don’t know what to expect in the future when it gets bigger, but I sure do love those fuscia berries. By the way, my loropetalum that is in the shade doesn’t bloom much either; but I like the leaves so I don’t mind. The blooms are fun, though.

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