The Colors of a Southern Autumn

magnolia

Fall colors are just starting to seep into the autumn landscape here in the South. Usually, in Ms. Jeannie’s area,  peak fall foliage time hits in early November, a couple of weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday, so we are just at the very start of the season now. But today was a blustery day, with leaves flying all over the yard and Ms. Jeannie couldn’t help but admire all the pretty colors turning from green to gold to rust that had just started occurring these past few days.

Primarily from mid Georgia to south Georgia the state is made up of pine trees, which of course are green all year round, so in order to get a fill of fall foliage, one must look to the decorative trees. Here are a few samplings of some traditional (non-pine!) Southern trees on their colorful journey from summer to fall…

The Fig Tree
The Fig Tree
The Dogwood
The Dogwood
The Scuppernong Grape Vine
The Scuppernong Grapevine

When the afternoon sun hits the grapevine it is like a giant light has been turned on inside the vines. So bright that it almost hurts your eyes to look at!

The Tulip Tree
The Tulip Tree

And Ms. Jeannie’s most favorite…

The Magnolia Tree
The Magnolia Tree

The Magnolia tree is really the grand spectacle of fall foliage in the South. All these leaves come from the same tree and were picked on the same day, so as you can see it is a colorful character in Fall.  Ms. Jeannie thinks it is  Mother Nature’s equivalent to the argyle sweater, with all of its blocks of repeating solids!   The color range is spectacular. In the picture – the center leaf is a metallic silver, but can also count copper, lime, canary yellow, russet, pumpkin, neon green, chocolate brown, amber , hazel, emerald and cinnamon among its many shades.  Fascinating that all that could be on tree at the same time. Add some pretty smelling, dinner plate size magnolia flowers to the mix and the tree is absolutely perfect!

Many Southerners use the leaves as garlands for their front porches and mantle pieces. Holiday time in the South really is a beautiful experience.

Photo via pinterest.
Magnolia garland for the stairway. Photo via pinterest.
Magnolia garland for the mantle. Photo via pinterest.
Magnolia garland for the mantle. Photo via pinterest.
Magnolia garland for the front door. Photo courtesy of RSHcatalog.com
Magnolia garland for the front door. Photo courtesy of RSHcatalog.com

An unexpected surprise occurred when Ms. Jeannie took a first time road trip to the North Georgia mountains, in early November, several years ago.  About an hour away, near Blue Ridge, Georgia, the trees offer up a completely different view of the season…

Photo via pinterest
The North Georgia mountains in Autumn. Photo via pinterest

There, the foliage rivals the best of any Vermont town. Red, green, orange, yellow, brown – one tree after another just gets prettier and prettier. And because it is up in the mountains – the air is crispy, the roads windy and the fruit stands plentiful.  Whenever Mr. Jeannie and Ms. Jeannie get a little nostalgic for their New England Autumns of past, they make a trek up to the mountains. Close your eyes for a second and then open  – and tah-dah you could very seemingly be in Vermont!  To give you an idea of the dazzling array of color – here are a few pictures courtesy of pinterest – that were taken in the North Georgia mountains…

Photo via pinterest
Photo via pinterest
Photo via pinterest.
Photo via pinterest.
Photo via pinterest.
Photo via pinterest.
Photo via pinterest.
Photo via pinterest.

Ms. Jeannie is making a trip up to the mountains in the next couple of weeks, so that she can go apple picking. It’s officially time for apple pie season!  So stayed tuned for more fall foliage pictures to come!

In the meantime, are leaves changing in your neck of the woods yet? If so, what color palette is Mother Nature painting with in your yard?

Vanity and the Fig Tree: A Clipping Update

Just as Ms. Jeannie said the other day “it’s amazing what a month can do” … well, it is equally amazing just to see what a a week can do when it comes to the wonderful workings of Mother Nature.

This was a picture of our fig tree cutting 11 days ago, having been snuggled into a moist grocery circular and tucked in a plastic Ziploc  bag for just under a month…

After 4 weeks in a ziploc bag!
After 4 weeks in a ziploc bag!

Do you see the little the root sprout jutting out there near the base?! A good sign that our fig clipping was getting a new start! Ms. Jeannie was so proud of little fig. She thought it might be best to wrap him back up into the Ziploc for another week or two to see if he could grow some more shoots. After that he was going to be transplanted to a plastic cup filled with vermiculite, as recommended by the NewEnglandGardener.

Well, wouldn’t you know dear readers, as Ms. Jeannie was showing off her new gardening feat to a friend – she somehow managed to break off the new sprout. That’s right – completely broke it off – right at the base. Ms. Jeannie thought this was a reminder about vanity. Had she not been showing off – she would have had a strong and sturdy sprout!

Oh well. Back to the Ziploc the clipping went. If Fig could grow one sprout – surely he grow another!

Back to bed...
Back to bed…

For 10 days, Ms. Jeannie left it untouched. Yesterday, on Day 11, she (carefully this time!) unwrapped her clipping to see what , if anything was going on with it. This is what she saw…

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Sprouts! Not just one but FOUR!

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How exciting! The fig tree is on its way!

So the next step, according to the NewEnglandGardener, was to transplant the clipping to a plastic drinking cup filled with vermiculite.  Ms. Jeannie allocated a plastic cup, Mr. Jeannie melted a few drainage holes in it, and Ms. Jeannie prepared for the transplant.  Only there was one slight problem.

Ms. Jeannie didn’t have any vermiculite on hand. No problem, said the NewEnglandGardener. Thanks to his video, he also mentioned that you could use perlite. But, drat, again. Ms. Jeannie didn’t have any of that either.

So she she went online and found a potting soil/peanut shell alternative. She had both of those!  She shelled about 10 peanuts, and mixed those shells with a handful of potting soil and made a new home for her clipping…

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The NewEnglandGardener recommended using a clear plastic cup so that you can see the roots as they start to grow long and wrap around the inside of the cup.

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Peanut shells act as lightweight soil aeration chips since they are big and cavernous.
Peanut shells act as lightweight soil aeration chips since they are big and cavernous.

Hope you like your new house, Fig! Now it is back to the shelf, where you’ll sit (out of the direct sun, of course!) for quite a bit of time while you grow roots and eventually leaves.

“I never saw a discontented tree.  They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.  They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!”  ~John Muir

Happy Growing!

To follow the fig tree clipping journey from the beginning, start here.