December Beauties

“Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes.”
― Clare Ansberry, The Women of Troy Hill: The Back-Fence Virtues of Faith and Friendship

Camellia sasanqua, a   traditonal favorite in southern gardens, is wearing her finest in December.  Bellingrath Gardens, nestled on the banks of Fowl River, is ready to show off these exotic beauties in their finery.  Take  time to stroll the walkways with friends  and partake of the delicate blossoms gracing the landscape. You will not be disappointed!

Learn more about sasanquas at the links below.

Dresses of Red and Gold

Come, little leaves,” said the Wind one day, “Come to the meadows with me and play. Put on your dresses of red and gold; For Summer is past, and the days grow cold.”
― George Cooper

Vibrant signs of autumn can be found in L.A.  They include  the  dramatic chrysanthemum displays at Bellingrath  Gardens and the unique leaves of ginkgo trees, also found  at Bellingrath. 

Learn more about ginkgo trees at the following links.


Someone Her Age

“The smell of burning firewood and the molding of organic, earthy substances reminded her of jumping wildly into the enormous leaf piles of autumns past and she suddenly wished that it was appropriate for someone her age to do such a thing.”
― Abby Slovin, Letters In Cardboard Boxes

A stack of firewood, ready for a cold evening of hot cider in a cozy pair of flannel pajamas and fuzzy slippers, appropriate for any age group…



Hiking Discoveries

“I am Falling in love again with autumn,
The smell of warm cider,
The orange color leaves,
Pumpkins everywhere
and the crisp breeze,
People walking or riding their bikes,
Folks jogging or going on hikes,
I love autumn for many reasons and
I’m pleased to admit- this is my favorite season”
― Charmaine J Forde

An autumn hike may allow one to discover native plants unfamiliar to many suburban dwellers. The above plant, Phytolacca americana, is very familiar to birds, consuming the purple berries.  However, this plant should be avoided by human beings and other mammals. All parts of the plant are toxic. Commonly called pokeberry, pokeweed, poke sallet, poke salad, and polk salad, the leaves of this native plant  have been consumed  by human beings, through a boil and drain process. But, a far safer method to eat greens  is to buy  them from the local market. Hikers should enjoy the shiny purple berries from a distance,  keeping pets and children away from this toxic plant.

Learn more about this native plant at the following link.  Wikipedia

Autumn on Flat Creek

“It is autumn on tip-toe that silently walks the hills and treads the forested expanses, gracing in each step a billion leaves in a chorus of colors so brilliantly ingenious that a thousand museums or more could not hold the artistry because a thousand artists or more will never possess the talent to produce what autumn effortlessly creates.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

Even a small alligator in the backwoods of Monroe County appreciates the beauty of autumn foliage.  Look at that smile! Now is the time to “tread the forested expanses” and drink in the beauty of an autumn day.

Gold on the Ground

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”
― Jim Bishop



NEVER, NEVER, NEVER burn one of nature’s best resources – pine straw!  Pine straw  should be used for mulching garden beds. Azaleas, blueberries, camellias and other acid loving plants will appreciate your efforts.  Autumn is a great time to train little gardeners  about the BMPs of gardening.  Collect the “gold” on the ground.

Autumnal Faces

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in an autumnal face.  John Donne

This adorable autumnal face belongs to an eastern screech owl, a resident of the Mobile County  Public Schools  System’s Environmental Studies Center.  Serving as a greeter to the many visitors attending the fall open house at the Girby Road facility, this little beauty does not exemplify the reclusive behavior of its fellow screech owls. Most screech owls will be heard rather than seen.  Click on the following link to  identify the calls of this petite raptor.

All About Birds

Shades of Autumn

Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under the harvest skies.

Sharon Kay Penman

This reptilian beauty is an elusive garter snake.  Its autumnal colors blend in well with the pine straw and oak leaves of an untended flower bed.  However unwanted the attention, it waited patiently until a camera was retrieved to document  its visit.  Learn more about garter snakes and their contributions to the environment at the following link.


Autumn Revelations

I feel more confident than ever that the power to save the planet rests with the individual consumer.
– Denis Hayes

Who would have thought clothing choice could have a profound effect upon the planet?  But, it does! Synthetic fiber is responsible for 70%  of microplastics found in the oceans.  Take a deep breath — you’ve just inhaled microplastic fibers! So Mr. and Ms. Consumer, start making natural fiber choices such as cotton, linen, and wool. Organic choices would be even better.  Your grandchildren will appreciate your efforts. Learn more about microplastics at the following link





Beware Some Signs of Autumn

Of all the seasons, autumn offers the most to man and requires the least of him. ~Hal Borland

While the beautiful fall foliage may attract many admirers, some  foliage should be admired from a safe distance. Such is the case of the above vine. The changing colors are attractive, the rash is not. This vine is poison ivy, all parts of the plant contain a toxic oil.  An in other seasons, cautionary behavior in the fall  is still required. Learn more about the plant at the following link. Poison Ivy