Wednesday, August 13, 2008

signs of the impending change of seasons

A day or so ago, on a walk it became obvious that autumn is breathing down summer's back. It seems a little early, being just the beginning of August, but these are just little glimmers among all the brilliant flowers and summer growth that is much more noticeable.
Along one row of trees, I've been noticing a couple of them are covered with cones. Way too many to be desirable for a Christmas tree I'd think. A few among the ornaments look pretty cool, but this is just ... well... odd! They probably draw a lot of energy from the plant. Isn't that absurd?Just to give you some idea of scale, this tree is about 7 feet tall, and the cones are anywhere from 3 to 4 inches long. I never noticed that this particular type of cones are sheathed (the green coating) and they open from the bottom. It's easier to see on the photo below. The one on the top right reminds me of a cicada or a butterfly chrysalis. Most open to resemble something like a bell shape until the sheath is completely gone.
Here we have a tiny pin-oak growing up through the branches of a fir tree. Of all the oaks, the leaves of the pin oak are the most appealing to me, and the young pinkish red leaves are almost difficult to resist picking. No explanation, just an observation. Besides, isn't this where Pinocchio came from?

Next I found a group of poke berries that give a very clear view of what they look like in the various stages. In particular, notice the magenta stems and the way they resemble Cinderella's pumpking right up until they turn black/purple, at which time they lose the scalloping and become smooth as old tires.
Last is a blown-up flower spike of sour dock. This is 3 to 4 times larger than the actual spike to show some detail of the flowers. Generally the flowers are so small that they are inconspicuous. The color dries to a deep red or maroon - sometimes other colors too - like greens, pinks, and rusts. They can be gathered to create a gorgeous wreath!
There are many other interesting things growing out there that give no inkling of the coming winter, but there is always a reminder, always the quiet tick tocking telling us that the world keeps moving. Everything keeps changing.


See? This hummingbird sage is just killing me with the stunning colors it produces. The leaves are a deep chartreuse. One of my favorite summer plants, simply because it is so pretty.

3 comments:

Alternative Health said...

No hint of autumn yet in my area. I live in Central Florida and all I see coming is another tropical storm.

Laura said...

GORGEOUS PHOTOS!!! Girl, I wish I was there!

patti flynn said...

i just adore the hummingbird sage....what a beautiful plant.

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