Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bloom Day December 2013

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." ~ Albert Camus

Late fall is like a reverse spring, where those last spots of color is searched out, photographed, and cherished as much as the first buds of spring.

I keep thinking that pretty much everything is done except for the swamp cyrilla and oakleaf hydrangea, and then I go outside and see there's more. Blueberry color seems to stretch into infinity in the fall.

On the slope below the apricot maple there is a gathering of wild sorrel trees, and a half dozen blueberries.

Nov. 17th.

Less than a month ago ~ so much green!

The sorrel trees were not the magnificent specimens that some are in the fall; I'm thinking of the ones such as Laurrie pictured in her blog, or the ones I saw off highway 40 near the airport: perfect ruby red Christmas-type trees set off by the spent ivory flower panicles. Mine are still small and typically try to color early, sometimes as early as September, but not too successfully. Too much leaf spot. Yet, late in the year, they managed to produce a few perfectly crimson leaves.

Ignore all of that jessamine. It's since been cut off at ground level. I cut back the jessamine, honeysuckle and tree seedlings twice a year and throw some compost at it, but otherwise this area is allowed to grow wild.

Three of the blueberries are wild volunteers and 3 others were started from cuttings from wild blueberries. The latter are are still small, ranging from 6 inches to 3 feet in height, and even the former are not close to their mature size. I love the blueberries for their fall color. The best ones just turn a beautiful jewel-like ruby red, or begin as wine-colored and lighten to pure red. Not every last of the wild blueberries here have such stellar color from start to finish, although many of them do. Even the ones that start out a dark muddy brick red or a sort of pallid mixture of colors eventually turn red.


I have mentioned that I think we have both Highbush Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) and Black Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium fuscatum) here; next year, if we have a good year and I can get to them before the birds and the deer, I'm going to tag the bushes and see if there is any difference in fall color.

Those blueberries are bare now, but when I was out in the garden on last Friday I noticed that the blueberries grown from cuttings have really brightened up. They started out as a dark wine color.

Dec. 6th

One is still really tiny. The pink tags are to protect them from being accidently mowed or cut down.

The species roses are often colorful late in the year too.

Rosa virginiana Nov. 25th
Neither of my Virginia roses, at least not as yet, are shrubs covered by brilliantly colored leaves. Rather, they are a few canes with brilliantly colored leaves. lol They still stand out though.

Dec. 6th

Rosa setigera Nov. 23rd

I had thought the rugosas were done, but they are not entirely.

The Hammock Sweet Azalea has been in the ground here about 15 years and I never really noticed any fall color. Look at it this year. I mean, the leaves are red.

Nov. 22nd

I noticed the Piedmont azaleas had a little bit of color too, as they often do.

Nov. 22nd

They were even more colorful Dec. 6th!

Even today they still held onto a few red leaves.

Swamp cyrilla and blueberry Nov. 18th

A week later

A few leaves left today. The brown stuff is spent flower panicles.

Oakleaf hydrangea is the latest to keep its color.

'Dayspring' Dec. 6th


Already the witch hazel is in full bloom. I forgot to get a picture but that's OK as it's also full of crunchy brown leaves. The Japanese apricot is full of buds and has already opened about half a dozen flowers, and the winter honeysuckle is budding up too.


Guess what I saw on Friday night? A whole flock of turkeys! We were hand walking the horses because it's been so wet and no time to tack up before dark. Just as we got to the creek I heard a huge racket above in the trees. At least a dozen turkeys took off from the trees, some quite ponderously and crashing through many small branches. I can completely believe they weigh 10 to 20 lbs. The last one to take off was only about 30 feet away. I couldn't tell if the birds were a flock of males or of family groups (hens and poults) -- it was near dark and we were practically making our way down the path by Braille -- but they were unmistakeably turkeys. The horses were impressed too! Prince is convinced that great blue herons are pterodactyls and after scaring one up at the pond keeps looking for another one.

A few days before that I saw a barred owl fly down one of the woodland paths in front of us, and as we were on our way back to the paddock passed one of the red-shouldered hawks on the martin house. I've noticed that the hawks are much less wary when I am with the horses. Since I was on horseback and more than five feet higher than usual I got an even closer look at the hawk. It looked much smaller than the barred owl we had seen earlier, so my guess is that hawk is a male. Barred owls and red-shouldered hawks are similar in size, and female raptors are usually bigger than males.

We've seen a few accipiters around, probably Cooper's or sharp-shinned, as well as a red-tailed hawk. We usually see harriers here during the winter too.

For more bloom days join Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


  1. You're so right that at this time of year we cherish every little bloom or spot of color to be found. Of course, it's so cold here right now that I don't venture out with a camera anymore:) Your oakleaf is so beautiful--that foliage is gorgeous. I'm surprised your horses weren't startled by the turkeys, but perhaps they were. I don't know that much about horses, but I know my dog would have gone chasing them immediately:)

  2. Thanks so much for the link to a full inventory of all my posts on sourwoods!! That was a nice surprise to open up. I am envious that you actually have wild sorrel trees growing around you. My one carefully cultivated sorrel tree is all I have.

    How great to see all your fall color (as I look out at a blank white landscape after a foot of snow fell this weekend -- love it for the holiday look, but it changes everything). The blueberry bushes in autumn are a delight. Mine colored well even as new transplants (several varieties). They're a real rich red, as you show, quite eye catching! And that oakleaf hydrangea --- must think about planting a big one.

  3. You do still have lots of color. I love the shots of the light shining on the foliage. I have to look pretty hard to find any color still in our garden. The blueberries and cherry trees are really putting out some beautiful reds! How nice that you are seeing so much wildlife activity in your area! I love that!

  4. I love the way describe late autumn as "reverse spring". How true! You had a lot of wonderful fall color. I love your blueberries and your species roses! Not to mention the oak leaf hydrangea. We have so many of those, it is easy to take them for granted. I have never seen a flock of turkeys in flight. That must have been amazing! I get so excited when I see a big bird, of any sort. The closest encounter I ever had with a turkey, except at the dinner table, occurred once when we were camping. We were all snuggled in when a turkey buzzed our tent!

  5. What great fall color you have. I am particularly fond of deep red in the fall, but have yet to succeed with my Iteas. Maybe I should plant blueberries for color instead (I won't even bother trying to beat the birds or squirrels to the berries). One of the best things about winter is that, with the trees bare, you get a much better view of the birds. I keep looking for my owl but so far he is MIA.


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