The seasons are rapidly changing, and so is the look of our landscapes. I really like this time of year. Personally, I think it would be boring if we only had one or even 2 distinct seasons. Fall is here, and winter is not far behind. This is a wonderful time to enjoy gardens and our native woodlands that come alive with color and form not seen in the spring or summer.
Many trees (those that survived the drought) are starting their transition from summer green to yellow, orange, red and brown
hues. If we continue to have sunny days and cool nights, the display should get even better, right up to the first hard freeze. Red maples and blackgum trees are particularly showy at the moment.
Besides foliage, many flowers put on a last display of color before the first hard freeze ends the show. The roses in the Tyler Rose Garden have held their glorious color for a long time, thanks to mild weather and little disease pressure. Colorful asters, salvias, fall-blooming azaleas, chrysanthemums, cupheas, Turk’s cap, and Confederate Rose, which is not a rose, but a mallow or hibiscus (Hibiscus mutabilis), keep gardens interesting until cold weather arrives. And sasanquas (Camellia sasanqua) are just now starting their enchanting floral displays.
Ornamental grasses also become dominate in the fall, with many types putting on a graceful display of long bloom spikes that wave with every gentle breeze.
Gulf or pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is always particularly attractive at this time of year, with its mass of wispy sprays of pink flowers. This is a popular, low-growing ornamental grass that is very attractive most of the year.
A couple of commercial residential developments in Tyler use masses of weeping love grass (Eragrostis curvula) as a rustic ground cover and for erosion control. The fine textured, weeping foliage gives this grass a dainty appearance, but in reality it’s known for its
drought tolerance and toughness. In fact, in some areas of the country, there is concern for its potential invasiveness to take over other native grasses.
Ornamental grasses are particularly attractive when viewed with backlighting. They can be used in masses as a dominant theme, or as a small group for a unique accent in the landscape.
So, get out and enjoy the mild weather and the fall season while it lasts. It won’t be long before we are raking up leaves, cutting back frost-bit perennials and putting the gardens to bed for the winter.