Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fall Colors

We had a long if not stellar period of fall color this year. It took me so long to get through the pictures that I decided to just lump them all together in one post.

We have a stand of tall straight tulip poplars between our house and the small neighborhood above us. They don't have the glowing brilliance of sugar maples, but when the golden light of late afternoon slants through the yellow leaves the effect is quite beautiful.

On Halloween

The following pictures were taken near or on Halloween as well. The lack of real cold this fall resulted in some firsts. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Japanese flowering apricot near the mailbox turn a muted shade of -- appropriately enough -- apricot.

Hubricht's blue star is known for its golden fall foliage, but this is the first time it's ever had this much color in my garden. I think the leaves usually freeze before they can change.

Dramatically lit by the late afternoon sun. Almost doesn't look real doesn't it, but it is!

Even the most sensitive have to admit that poison ivy has good fall color. Unfortunately, it grows wild here on the farm too and there's a lot of it. The tree with the purple leaves on the right is a sweetgum.

Musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana) often has striking color in the fall. It grows at the edge of a slough next to one of the pastures and all the way down to the creek.

The red maples turned very late this year.

In the middle of November, Red Maples provided a lot of color in the understory of the tulip poplars, by now bare of their leaves.

This is the first time in 13 years I remember seeing color on the serviceberry; usually the leaves just spot and drop. This year they turned a burnished gold color, seen here with sweetgum.

Rosa virginiana has beautiful fall color, starting with yellow and progressing to red and then purple. This is a young plant I put in late this summer.

A few very late flowers on the wood sorrel

A very colorful shrub that I do not know the identity of. It's growing on the bank of the large ditch between the house and the big perennial bed.

The beautyberries have stayed beautiful for a long time. Freezes do them in, so the mild weather has been very good for them.

Two native shrubs have provided beautiful fall color for a long time, sumac and blueberry.

The beautiful scarlet foliage and wine-red fruits of winged sumac.

Here is a perfectly red... blueberry, at the end of October. These are wild bushes that produce abundant tiny sweet berries in June and often have really spectacular color over a very long period of time in the fall. They are very adaptable, growing on dry hillsides as well as practically in the water. They need acid soil and they like the sandy loam here.

Some of the blueberries will simply turn scarlet, while others will turn burgundy, sometimes even with chocolate undertones. Eventually almost all of the blueberries end up bright red.

On Nov. 5th:

Nov. 16th, and still colorful this past weekend.

The last few days several of the blueberries finally lost their scarlet red leaves, but the swamp cyrilla is as colorful as ever.

Swamp cyrilla started to change after our first frost over three weeks ago and has been beautiful ever since.

Standing at the old house site, looking toward the neighbor's pasture. The last of the fall color on the trees from red maples and sweetgums.

Soon the very last of the fall color will be gone, but the loblolly pines and hollies will remain vibrant in the landscape. Time to try to photograph the yellow-Rumped warblers and cedar waxwings chowing down on the wax myrtle berries.


  1. A beautiful post Sweetbay~~All those gorgeous native shrubs and perennials just make me happy. I love all the photos and refuse to choose one colorful fall shot over the other~~but, the last two long shots are really lovely views into your gardening world. gail

  2. You have an amazing variety of plants, and so many that change color! Lovely photos.

  3. Wow, Sweetbay ~ Lovely post of autumn colors. Hubrect's Blue Star's foliage is stunning. What are the purple flowers in the mix?

    This post was a real treat.


  4. What great shots and how fortunate you are to have so much at hand to photograph. I wish more people knew about Cyrilla and nurseries offered it for sale. I carried it at the garden center several years ago, and it was a hard sell.

  5. Thank you Gail,Janie, FlowerLady and Les. Flowerlady, the flower is Aster 'Miss Bessie', which is a Willow Leaved Aster cultivar or hybrid. I agree Les about Cyrilla -- it's truly a four-season tree, and a perfect small tree: a lovely form with lots of character, racemes of white flowers in summer that look much like that of Sorrel Tree, and then this very long-lasting and late fall color.

  6. I love this last picture Sweet bay... and your golden blue star earlier is a stunner! It truly does look dream like when lit up in your second shot. Gorgeous. Carol

  7. I can't imagine having so many pretty trees. It's just beautiful there year round I bet. The red Maples under the tulip Poplars are a beautiful natural combination.

  8. Oh my! I think the Hubrect's Blue Star deserves to have a painting done of it by an artist - stunning! :)

  9. What wonderful fall colors! could your mystery shrub be a high bush blueberry? The leaves are similar to your other blueberry.
    If I can't get fall color shots today on the Ironwood, I may link back to you for next week's tree. (if you don't mind)
    I am always amazed at the range of color in the Sweetgum...just beautiful. (the only time of the year I enjoy Sweetgum!)

  10. What great colors and textures! My favs are the red blueberries and the beautyberries, esp. seeing as how mine did poopy this year. I think it needs a sunnier location, which means I'd pretty much need to move it to a neighbor!! LOL. (But seriously.)

  11. Carol I was very happy to see those Blue Stars turn color this year; they are in a very low-lying place and usually get zapped before they can turn.

    Catherine I really like the Red Maples. We keep them away from the horse pastures, as dead and wilted Red Maple leaves are toxic to horses, but we have a lot elsewhere. They have really nice fall color. I prefer the color of the wild ones to the cultivars.

    The Garden Ms S, I agree, Hubrect's Blue Star does deserve to be painted by an artist!

    Janet the blueberry here is Highbush Blueberry -- I asked some crack expert plant IDers on a forum and between looking at the plant and its location determined it to be Highbush. The leaves on the mystery shrub or tree are much larger than the Blueberry. It's not Virginia Sweetspire either. If I can't figure out what it is I'll ask them about this plant too. Yes certainly, link back here for the Ironwood pictures. I love the range of color on the Sweetgums too! Often they look like a rainbow.

  12. What a beautiful collection of trees you have there. Lots of berries on many of them - do the critters enjoy them? I especially love the Beautyberry. Gorgeous color!!! I can't wait until mine is more mature - just bought it this last summer.
    You're right Poison Ivy is pretty - I guess I wouldn't know what stung me if it ever does.

  13. oh my. Where to begin. It would have taken me forever to put together a post like this Sweet Bay. So many gorgeous photos and in sequences too! The beauty berries want to steal the show to me but everywhere you look, it's just beautiful and still FALL (as opposed to winter like it's felt here for months)! I would feel like I was in gardeners heaven there ~ because it won't be long before you have some signs of spring I bet! I hope you get pictures of the warblers & waxwings ~ I'd love to see them!

  14. Wonderful post! I've never seen beauty berries before. They are stunning!

  15. Wow! this was a great post. I really enjoyed seeing all the beauty in your part of the world.I love the beautyberries but everything is so pretty.Our trees are all bare and have been for awhile now. We have had a mild fall here too.
    Take care,

  16. SweetBay,
    That Hubrect's Blue Star is like nothing I have ever seen amazing! Loved this post you have so much more fall colors left there, our Sprarkle berries are the brightest thing out there right now. Can you help me? I lost a blog link that I have seen you post on before, he lives up near Merchant's Millpond and posts all kinds of interesting nature stuff.

  17. Great post, I enjoyed it very much. I think my favorite fall plant is the sumac. It is so vibrant.

  18. Thank you for your kind comments everyone!

    The long mild fall has been very nice, and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of fall color we ended up with. At first it looked as though autumn was going to be a dud as far as color! Fall color makes going into winter so much easier.

    Raingardener, the Mockingbird and Robins seem to like the Beautyberry best. You are going to like yours for sure! It's a great shrub.

    Kathleen this post did take me a while! lol Despite the hot summers it really is a gardener's paradise here, because there is almost always *something* blooming. I lived in PA for 3 years and couldn't wait to get back here. PA was beautiful -- the wildflowers were out of this world, much like the mts in NC -- but May was too cold for me!

    Jackie and Carolyn I first saw Beautyberry at the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo over 20 years ago and it was love at first sight. Beautyberry grows wild in our area too.

    Randy is it this link?: She's in northeastern NC. I love reading her blog.

    Phillip Sumac really does have amazing color doesn't it? The fruits are beautiful too.

  19. I think I saw a little fairy prancing around those beauty berries. :)
    Beautiful post and photos! You live in a special spot.

  20. I could understand how difficulut it must have been to chose which photo to publish. all these warm colors, thanks to a mild autumn. And yes, you're right, the clement weather we had made the transition from summer to winter a tolerable, even enjoyable one.

    Your hubrect's blue star looks like a soft golden cloud in the late afternoon sun. But my fave is the beautyberries. However, i think the late wood sorrell flowers are a good contender for top 1 in my list:)


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