Up to a point, our detractors are correct. Through October, much less September, our weather rarely calls for donning a sweater, unless like me, you're a bit sensitive to the chill provided by air conditioners. And with the possible exception of a couple of the less common trees to our area, there are not a lot of leaves changing colors to signal winter is on the way.
Yet I maintain we do have our own set of color signifiers. They just aren't going to be apparent if you are looking up. In my garden spaces, rather than foliage displays, Fall Color is more about the appearance of certain blossoms that wait until summer's heat has abated. Around here, these flowers are just as reliable a sign of the change in seasons as any flashy, look-my-leaves-are-dying tree.
One sure pop of color hitting its stride right now? Hamelia patens, or Mexican firebush. While this plant is native to Florida, it is a well adapted non-native, designated a Texas Superstar by Texas A&M. Native or not, it does a great job supporting native pollinators and hummingbirds with its tubular blossoms. A bit cold sensitive, mine has reliably come back from the roots after the harshest winter weather. The protracted cold we experienced last year put a bit of a delay on bloom initiation, but there was no stopping this beauty.
Scarlet Sage, or Salvia coccinea. This self-seeder resists deer and tolerates shady hillsides with poor soil, making it ideal for lining the drive up to our house.
Lindheimer's senna on a trip The Hub and I made out to the Lake Buchanan area years ago. It was an El Niño winter, and the senna bushes were blooming away in January. I loved their leaves as much as their blooms, and was determined to introduce some into our spaces.
Speaking of easily propagated, no fall color lineup would be complete without making mention of Fall Obedient Plant, Physostegia virginiana.
Each year I cheerfully take the plants that have strayed past the bed border and transplant them into some new corner that could use a little pop of purple in September. As it turns out, there are lots of those corners here and so far, the obedient plants have adapted to everything but the hottest driest spaces.
To continue our parade of Fall Color in Texas, I'd like to salute a small native tree, the Texas kidneywood (Eysenhardtia texana). It might not sport brightly colored leaves, but its white bloom spires are every bit as welcome.
Unless it is purple berries you'd prefer? Then you'll appreciate the closer for my Fall Color roundup, the Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). The name says it all. See for yourself.
delicious as they look, then it is no wonder the birds and squirrels fight over these. Preferring a bit of shade, these edge habitat understory natives bring their own light to the party.
OK East Coasters. I've had my fun. It is September again and you will have your annual run of glory days to boast of striking fall color. Your reputation is well deserved as far as it goes. But please, don't ever try to convince me we don't have color in Texas in the Fall. It might not be the leaves on our trees capturing the spotlight each autumn, but when it comes to color in the landscape? We've got gracious plenty.