Helenium amarum

It’s December, So Time to Check for Fall Color, Part II: More Than Just Leaves (Sigyn Speaks)

We’ve had to walk a long way to find so many colorful leaves. But it’s a lovely day, and it feels so good to be outdoors that no one minds. (Well, maybe Loki has been complaining a little bit. The human female says that’s how she knows he’s still breathing. Rude, but a teeny bit true…)

Most of the flowers are long past flowering. This Goldenrod is wearing its furry winter underwear now.

One gust of wind or one good sneeze and we could have acres sown with seed! Acres of yellow next fall! Wouldn’t that be fun!

A few Black-eyed Susans are still out.

I hope the pollinators have noticed they’re here, or they will be lonely. : (

The Bitterweed is actually fairly common right now.

It flowers so prolifically that it’s hard to find a month when it’s not in bloom.

Not all the flowers are yellow.

The Blue Mistflower is easy to spot. There’s nothing else quite that color, especially this time of year!

Loki, look! What is that over there? It’s not blooming, but it looks…different.

Wow! The human female says this is a Grape Fern and that they’re not at all common out here. The leaves at the base are sterile, she says, and the sticky-uppy part is a fertile frond with little round balls of spore-producing tissue. Hence the “grape” part of the name. Hee hee hee! Loki licked it before she explained that…

Oh, my goodness! Oh, my goodness!

Buttercups! It’s entirely the wrong time of year for these, but aren’t they pretty? Loki, did you have something to do with messing up their timing?

We have almost finished our loop trail and are walking back along the Great Desolation (the water treatment plant right-of-way). Oh! We are stopping to look at this plant.

The random red and maroon leaves first attracted our attention, but now we are all scratching our heads trying to figure out what it is. It has pointy leaves and is very, very flat, with roots at every node. Whatever it is, there is a quite a bit of it. Since this is a disturbed area, it could be anything, from just about anywhere! I mean, this is where we found the white-flowered Bidens, the first record for this county. We’ve made a note to come and look at it in the spring to see if we can identify it.

There’s always something fun to look at in this park. I hope we can come again soon!

: )

A Neenering We Will Go, Part I: Greeting Old Friends

Now that is is definitely fall and the temperatures have cooled a portion of a smidgen of a little bit, the human female is more likely to shift herself out of her chair and go for a walk. Today, she and Sigyn have decided to go see what’s what along the Neener Path by the Big, Ugly Apartments. We haven’t been down that way in a while, so I’m a bit curious myself to see if anything interesting is going on.

Ah. I think this will be a morning of seeing things we’ve seen before in other years. Sigyn calls it “Saying Hello to Old Friends.” I call it “It’s October and There’s Ragweed, What Did You Expect?”

Look at all that pollen! I’ll be sure to give this stem a good flick as I dismount, just to make sure the human female can appreciate its devotion to anemophily.

Some of the composites are better at keeping their sneezables to themselves. Bitterweed, for instance, contents itself with flowering eleven months of the year and making cows that eat it give bitter milk.

Horseweed just likes to get tall and poofy and seed itself into people’s yards.

Late-flowering thoroughwort (a ridiculous name!) is rather similar visually, though the plants have larger leaves and the flowers are white enough and dense enough so that it’s almost ornamental.

I’ve still made sure it drops tons of seeds in the human female’s yard every year, though.

Mistflower is more well-behaved. All it does is make patches of blue in shady spots.

Sigyn wants to pat it and cuddle it because it looks like “fuzzy fireworks”. Botanical fact: The fuzzy, threadlike bits are the styles in the tiny flowers, not the petals. There. Don’t you feel smarter?

The climbing hempvine is related and has flowers that are made the same way.

It likes wet spots and thinks the ditch along the Neener Path is a good place to be.

Peppervine is also abundant here. Sigyn likes the berries when they are unripe and pinkish.

I prefer them when they get all plump and inky black.

I still say we should sneak some into the human female’s breakfast. Sigyn says we should be nice and just dangle.

Hmm, what else is here? Ah, yes. Plenty of woolly croton. Another fuzzy thing Sigyn likes to cuddle.

I’m sensing a sunggle-pattern here. But since I am also one of the things she likes to snuggle, I am not complaining!

Well, huh. I take back what I said–not everything blooming today is something we’ve seen along this path before. This one is new:

The human female says this is something called “shoreline seapurslane”. Sigyn says the flowers look like “little stars.” I say the silly thing is about one hundred and thirty miles north of fitting its common name…

So here we are a the turn-around part of our walk, though we can stop and look at more things on the way back and–

Great Frigga’s Hairpins, Sigyn! Stop right there!!

Somewhere, there is a female persimmon tree with ripe fruits, and you nearly stepped in the big pile of seedy raccoon poop!

The human female is getting that look in her eye. If the trees in the woods have ripe fruit, the trees closer to home might have ripe, delicious fruit too. I suspect our next walk is going to be in our very own neighborhood…

(to be continued)

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A Very Colorful Fall Walk

The recent local weather (hot cold hot cold rainy sunny cold hot again), while making wardrobe deliberations a maddening ordeal with at best a 50-50 percent chance of success, have had an unexpected effect.  The local flora, famous for not giving a fig for seasonal expectations and remaining green until January, has decided, for once, to oblige Sigyn’s longing for a colored autumn.

We have therefore embarked upon a tour of the yard, the surrounding neighborhood, and the park at the end of the street, in order to take in all the offerings on this bright and sunny afternoon.

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cedar elm

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pecan

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woolly bucket or gum bumelia (both ludicrous names)

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upland swamp privet (an oxymoron if I ever heard one)

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yaupon holly

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post oak

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aster

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winged elm

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farkleberry

fall-color-9-vaccinium

bitterweed

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more asters

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more yaupon

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ditto (can you tell Sigyn really likes holly?)

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greenbriar

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a whole galaxy of asters  (Time for a little rest.  Dangling is hard work)

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white mulberry

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miniature dragon

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poison ivy  (Go on, human female, pat the pretty plant!)

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more mulberry

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copperleaf (Aptly named, I’d say.)

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More elmage

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honey locust

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bald cypress

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yet more elms

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many shot of a truly splendid farkleberry

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blackjack oak

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They say some medieval craftsman invented stained glass.  I’m not so sure.

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My Favorite Fall Color, Part II: Mostly Yellow (Sigyn Speaks)

I know, I know!  I don’t usually post two days in a row, but I just love fall flowers so much!!

Yesterday I showed you the red ones, and they were beautiful, but fall is also the time for my second favorite color.  Yellow!

No one can be uncheered with sunflowers around.

sunflower

They followed the human female home from work as seeds in a bucket of  pressed-flower compost material.  Now they’re all over the lot, mostly because the human female leaves them up until the birds have nibbled out all of the seeds at the end of the season.  Those birds spill quite a few seeds (messy eaters!), so there are always more the next year.

She grew this senna from a tiny seed.  Well, a big-enough seed, I guess, because it makes beans, but tiny when compared with the overall size of the plant.

senna

The whole bush is about six feet tall now.  It’s not terribly cold hardy, but the flowers are such a nice color!

And the flowers of this tropical milkweed are double-extra pretty because they are red AND yellow.  The butterflies love them!   They have an icky-sticky sap, though, so I’m always careful touching them. 

milkweed

Don’t the flowers look like they’ve been made by a cake-decorating frosting tip?

In the front flower bed, the red and yellow lantanas are growing next to one another.  The “red” ones are such a nice color.  They start out nearly yellow and age through to red.

lantana

And look at the flower buds!  They’re rectangular, which is something I’ve always thought is really, really cool.

There is a lot of yellow going on outside the yard, too.

“Bitterweed” is such an ugly name for such beautiful flowers.  It’s called that because cows who have eaten it give bitter milk.  But there aren’t any cows in the neighborhood, so we don’t have to worry too much about that!

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I really like how the ray florets have scalloped tips.  Fun botany fact:  what looks like an individual flower is really a whole cluster of tinier flowers.  I love all the flowers!

Which is good, because the park on the corner…

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is sort of awash with them!

: )

 

A January Afternoon Walk, Part I: It’s Far Too Green

Sigyn and the human female are feeling a little house-bound, so I’ve donned my old clothes so that we can all go for a walk in the woods.  (Or, rather, they’re walking and I’m being dragged.)

Wait–what month is this?  January, correct?  And Midgard hasn’t toppled over to put us in the Southern Hemisphere, has it?  No?  Then why is everything so green?

clover

It has been a most atypical year, weather-wise.  All of this clover and grass is comfy and good to sit in, but much more appropriate for late February or March!  And can we move on?  The sun is right in my eyes.

Sigyn has found some flowers.  Are they early too?

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Nope.  This is bitterweed.  It is supposed to flower in the fall, but in the past couple of years there have been stragglers blooming all through the winter and random individuals all spring and summer as well.  Hogun’s topknot, it is sunny today!

Ah, shade!  And this yaupon holly looks about right for the time of year.  It stays green all year, and the human female said once that the berries will stay on until the migrating birds in the spring swoop in and gobble them all up.

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You’ll pardon me if I don’t try one.  I know better.

This deciduous holly is a little more blatant in offering up its fruity goodness.  No leaves to get in the way.

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(Augh!  The low sun is right my face again.  Curse these winter afternoons!)

We are also seeing remnants of last autumn’s flora.  This verbena is just hairy enough to have a halo when back-lit.

verbena

And the pink muhly grass still has a little color.

muhly

Whew!  We’ve walked over half the park.  Let’s rest a bit and then continue…

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