Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fall Colors In My Backyard

I haven't taken you for a walk around the backyard in a while, so I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the colors that are out there. (Remember you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.) We haven't had a hard frost yet although tonight's forecast is for temps in the low 30's. (I covered my second crop of lettuce just to be safe--it's finally gotten big enough to start eating.) I would say we're at peak color in the area right now and in addition to all the beautiful colored leaves, I still have some flowers blooming.


Gorgeous purple asters

One brave little purple coneflower

We lost quite a few apples in late season windstorms, but there are still some hanging on. I'll let them get frosted a little (it makes them sweeter) and then pick what I can to make apple butter and applesauce and maybe even an apple pie for Mr. Johnson!

Don't you love these Winterberry Holly?

I have several of these holly bushes in the backyard, but this one has the most fruit on it. I planted them especially for the birds, but the birds have never taken advantage of the fruit. However, they provide beautiful color in the backyard through much of the winter.
Asparagus plants are even changing color. This is how you find where asparagus is growing wild in road ditches--drive around looking for the yellow color in the fall and remember where it is so you can go back to cut some in the spring.

Some of the sumac from the roadside ditch is infiltrating the evergreen windbreak at the edge of my yard. It's annoying to me and I need to go cut some of these wayward visitors off, but the red leaves of the sumac are such a beautiful contrast against the dark green of the evergreens, don't you think? So I think I will give them a "stay of execution" until they have lost their leaves.

Here are a couple views of the staghorn sumac patch. This patch has probably quadrupled in size since I planted it about 7 years ago.I think this is the most colorful I have ever seen it!

Here's one of the maple trees--changing over from green to yellow. I think it's pretty amazing how some of the leaves are still completely green and some are completely yellow, while the others are half and half.

The aspen trees are just starting to change to their yellow leaves. I'm guessing within the week, these trees will be all yellow. This aspen grove is another success story in my backyard. By discontinuing lawnmowing around the 10 or so trees that were there, the little shoots just took off and now I have a really nice little grove. The only mowing I do there now is 3 trails through the middle of the trees--it's like my own private little aspen jungle! Bunnies and deer like to spend time in there too.

The Mountain Ash trees are covered with orange berries too. I'm surprised the Cedar Waxwings haven't eaten all these berries yet.

How about this handsome little feller? I've had bunches of these White Crowned Sparrows (adults and juveniles) in the backyard for a couple weeks. I tried hiding behind a shrub to get some pictures of these twittery little birds, and after 20 minutes, this was the only acceptable shot. BTW - I saw my first dark-eyed junco in the backyard yesterday afternoon also.

And here's one of the favorite spots for many of the birds in my backyard. It started out as 10 red osier dogwood seedlings that eventually grew into 10 foot shrubs. Now the shrubs are grown over with Virginia creeper and wild grapes, also one giant elderberry bush and a box elder tree right in the middle of the thicket. I keep a tray feeder right on the edge (you can see it in the lower left of the picture). It's so dense and excellent cover for the birds--especially when Cooper's Hawk swoops into the yard. I think the Gray Catbird nested here this summer, but I won't be able to check for any nests till all the leaves are gone.

I hope you all get a chance to go out and enjoy fall colors soon--in your backyard and beyond.


Herci said...

What beauuuutiful pictures Ruthie! Thanks for sharing these ;)
The holly bushes are amazing!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Ruthie, you have some brilliant color in your garden now. Simply beautiful. Thanks for taking us around.

Red said...

The best color I get is viewing others' blogs :) Thank you Ruthie!

Sadly, only 1 in 10 trees around here do any color and it's not as vibrant as I see in pictures.

cindy said...

What a beautiful backyard, Ruthie. I just love this time of the year. We do not get the White-crowned Sparrows very often. They are one of my favorite birds. So pretty. Yesterday I saw a Short-eared Owl just a couple of miles out of town. What a treat. A friend called wondering what it was. The wind did a job on our leaves today. Tonight, with the nearly full moon, our backyard looks beautiful. Hope hunting is going well for you.

Jayne said...

Wow, lots of color in your yard Ruthie! It's beautiful. :c)

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Herci....glad you enjoyed it.

You're welcome Lisa....glad you could come along!

Well Red, at least you don't have to bundle up to go out for fall colors & think of all the gas you save too!

Thanks Cindy. In previous years I've seen Harris' and white-throated sparrows but not so far this year.
Short-Eared Owl is an excellent sighting--good for you! (I've only seen 1 in my life).

Thanks Jayne. Hopefully it will last a week or two yet because I'm really enjoying it too.

Anonymous said...

That staghorn sumac is spectacular in color, as is almost everything else in your yard. You have so many things to look at, from flowers to trees and birds, it is such a nice haven. thanks for taking us along again.


Ruth said...

I LOVE your yard!! What a nice picture of the White-crowned sparrow. They are so handsome. The dogwood/grape/elderberry brush area would be a perfect haven for birds. Good for you for providing such a wonderful natural area.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
It's a haven for sure.....I try not to think about everything I'm missing while I'm at work :-(

Thanks Ruth. Amazingly enough, the only things I planted in that thicket were the dogwoods--the birds planted everything else for me and I just let it go.
The white-throated sparrow is sitting on the edge of the thicket--you can see how dense it is behind him.

Marsha said...

What beautiful fall color you have there! I especially love the sumac, winterberries and aspen. I going to add an aspen next year after falling in love with them on our trip.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Marsha,
I'll dig some up for you and you can meet me halfway somewhere next spring.
We actually had a guy who does some landscaping stop by our place earlier this spring and ask permission to dig up several sumac and aspen plants. He was really happy about getting some native-grown plants and I was happy about thinning out those thickets a bit.

Owlman said...

I not only love the colors but the way you've landscaped your garden to encourage more bird life. I am in the beginning stages of this process and I love what you've done. I have much less property, but I'm aiming to do something similar. BTW, the staghorn sumac patch is amazing. We had very little fall color last year, but this year the leaves have been great in NJ. Some of our maples takes my breath away!

Meggie said...

Wow! The colors in your yard are amazing! After seeing your staghorn sumac, I'm thinking I should rethink all the mowing I do to my side yard. The deer and birds would much rather see the vegetation, I'm sure. Thanks for the idea, Ruthie AND for your kind words about my Casper.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Owlman. It's been a concentrated effort (since 1988) and I think this is the first year since then that I didn't add a single tree, bush or flower to the landscape (except for my vegetable garden). I'm still waiting to see wild turkeys and a pileated woodpecker in my backyard, but otherwise the rest of my bird and wildlife goals have been achieved.

Hi Meggie,
I'm really amazed at how much LESS mowing I have to do anymore by letting things go wild--the time spent mowing has been cut IN HALF from a few years ago and most of the time (at least this year when it was drier) I can get everything mowed without having to make a pit stop for gas.
Losing a beloved pet is never easy (I've gone through it 3 times and each time is that much harder)

Mel said...

Wow Ruthie, wow!!
I envy you so much... I'm stuck in a grey office, no fun colours or daylight for me... THANK YOU for making me smile with such beauty!
I need to get out more... I miss Tommy :(

Mary said...


You ARE having a beautiful autumn! Wow! I can only dream of having such a variety of shrubs and plants (for the birds). It'll take time, I guess. We are starting to see the trees change color here.

You said you'll have 30's - any frosts yet?


Mary C said...

Wow, Ruthie - such vivid colors from your yarrow and asters and coneflowers. And a very yummy looking apple, too. As Red said, it's good to see others' pictures of this year's fall foliage since we don't get the same intensity around here. Love that little white-crowned sparrow. It's been several years since I last saw one.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mel,
I'm stuck in the office all day too, so I'm glad I have this backyard to come home to.
I hope you and Tommy will be reunited soon! :-)

Hi Mare,
I'm amazed at the color we've had too. I thought maybe with the dry summer that autumn wouldn't be as colorful, but it's been great so far.
Yes--a couple of light frosts already--the ground was quite sparkly again this morning at 6 AM as we were heading out to the deerstands.

Hi Mary C,
I like that some of the flowers are still blooming too. I even saw a couple butterflies still flying around the flowers this week.

Julie said...

Beautiful pictures and all of them taken in your backyard!?! I love the sumac patch. How long does their color last? I haven't been out once this year to get some autumn color pictures. So unlike me, but hopefully I haven't missed it all.

Dana Jones said...

Okay I was reading along thinking, hm, we have a lot in common. Then I read that you PLANTED a sumac patch. And I thought I was the only one who is drawn into these patches of vibrant color as I drive down fall roads.

Please visit me at either of my two blogs, (you choose) Cabin Chronicles, my cabin in the Ozarks and semi related events, or Calico Cat Press, my all things creative blog.

I will put you on my links on both! I've enjoyed reading!