six on Saturday, 22 October 2022

There is just not much blooming here at the lake. October is traditionally a dry–maybe the driest–month in Alabama, but this year is exceptional. The last measurable rain was 13 October. Before that we go back to 5 September, for less than half an inch, with 1.54 inches the day before. Autumn colors are more desiccated brown or crusty dijon mustard than bright yellow, orange, or red. Nonetheless, there are a few perennial natives that are offering small spots of color.

1. The first, the stripped gentian (Gentiana villosa), just appeared under a Japanese spindle tree a few years ago, then another popped up in an open area of lawn. At first, I kept waiting for the flowers to open. They don’t. Or, at least some Gentiana species do not open at all. Gentiana villosa, which is found primarily in the Southeast, opens a little. Also called the pale gentian, this variety is characterized by green strips with purple shading on creamy white. The second photo below shows as much of the inside of a blossom I’ve ever seen. The featured image shows another attempt to get inside the gentian.

2. The second native is the American aster. More sparse and fragile than usual, they have come up only sporadically this fall. Nevertheless, they deserve a place in this post for making it at all. The genus is Symphyotrichum, and there are a multitude of species. The blue flower below I’ve only known as American aster, the other as the calico aster.

3. The red buckeye fruits are opening. Another North American native, Aesculus pavia, is a favorite of mine, or at least this one is because I “raised” it from seed in 2004. And it has paid me back in numerous blooms and fruits during the past several years. The first photo below of the flower is from a previous spring; the remaining three are of this years’ husks opening to reveal the buckeyes. They fall to the ground as they open fully, some to germinate. None to be gathered by the squirrels. They are really quite poisonous. Notice that some of the capsules contain two seeds.

4. Next is the remainder of a plant that is not poisonous, in fact it is very tasty–to deer. The area of the my lot that I garden at the lake is fenced in. I have never trusted my dogs to be street smart. Only once have I caught a glimpse of a deer inside. And, never have deer eaten my hostas. But in this drought, there might not be as much as usual appetizing in the woods; consequently, fence jumping apparently seemed like a worthwhile venture.

5. The yellow anisetrees (Illicium parviflorum), in pots are doing much better, and survived the deer untasted in spite of their licorice fragrance. They’ve put on a couple of inches of growth this summer. If the winter does not follow the extreme climate patterns of 2022 so far, I hope for vigorous growth in the coming year.

6. Finally there are the Japanese anemones, which are in their final flowering. Their long stems could not hold up to the dry September and October weather and to earlier summer’s winds. They became a flattened mass of interlocking stems and buds as the summer months moved on. Still, some of these delicate flowers manage to raise their faces to the autumn light. Within the week, I suspect that they will all be gone.

All that remains for today is to remind readers to visit the site of The Propagator to check out the guide for taking part in this Six on Saturday exchange of garden photos, wisdom, and stories. Visit. Enjoy. Take part.

10 Replies to “six on Saturday, 22 October 2022”

  1. Aesculus is an odd genus. In some regions, they are quite popular, and supposedly quite appealing. Yet, pictures are scarce online. The only extoic sort that I have experienced here is the English horse chestnut, which blooms rather colorfully. Otherwise, the native species here is unimpressive. The bloom is nice, and can actually be quite pretty and fragrant, but the foliage is icky. It is ‘twice deciduous’, so defoliates as the weather gets warm and dry through summer, and then defoliates again for autumn. Trees seem to be dead through the warmest part of summer, and contribute no shade to the landscape.

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      1. No, I can not think of any of the genus that is as unappealing as ours is within landscape situations. A few live near here, and I do happen to like them in the wild, but only because I know what they are. I do not like them in the public landscapes because so many of our guests are from other regions, so are unfamiliar with them.

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