Colorful fall at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

November 13, 2019

Before the big freeze I squeezed in a short visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, unintentionally joining throngs of families streaming in to explore Fortlandia on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I’d intended to photograph both the flowering gardens and Fortlandia but decided to save the latter for a less busy day.

Still, the rest of the garden buzzed with activity too. Take fall aster, for example. Intensely focused honeybees were carefully working each flower

The hum of tiny wings filled the air near this purple patch.

As the bees gathered nectar and pollen, so I gathered photos of fall flowers. With a forecast of two nights in the upper 20s, some were likely to be cut unseasonably short this year.

White mistflower, aka white shrubby boneset, and fall aster make a lovely late-blooming combo.

This late-flying monarch butterfly was fueling up on the mistflower. I hope it fluttered south before the blue norther blew in the next morning.

On this day, skies were calm and the gardens lovely.

Austin rarely has great fall color, but this year seems better than usual. Aside from the trees, fall color can be found in vines like Virginia creeper, turning red to brighten a stone wall.

And in grasses like Gulf muhly with its cotton-candy pink flowers. Tawny Lindheimer muhly towers behind it.

Turk’s cap blooms spring through fall, and it was still going strong behind the spiral wall in the family garden.

American beautyberry, still laden with purple fruit, offers up a snack bar for hungry birds.

Watch your step, bobcat. Is that poison ivy turning orange up ahead?

Unripe rosy-pink fruit dangles from rusty blackhaw viburnum. When ripe they turn blue-black.

The pink is so pretty though, especially with the changing leaves. Too bad it can’t stay this color.

A more somber companion stands nearby, a Mexican buckeye that’s already shed its leaves, leaving only the rattling black husks containing its seeds.

A sunflower adds sunshine yellow to the fall garden.

Mostly greens here, but there’s a hint of yellow.

And then, kapow, actual orange leaves on an oak, perhaps a bur oak?

And what is this lovely tree with lemon-yellow foliage?

Cedar elms are glowing gold all over Austin right now, including here.

Hello, it’s my original stock-tank pond inspiration. See, no pump is necessary if you have the right balance of pond plants. Little mosquito fish (gambusia) eat up all the mosquito larvae.

More white mistflower

I don’t remember seeing this slanted-slat steel screen before. Nice!

Along the Hill Country stream, it’s still pretty green, although fallen leaves have decoupaged the rocks.

Nestled alongside a couple of Texas dwarf palmettos, a small tree turns from green to yellow.

The meadow shows subtle signs of autumn — a tawny inflorescence here and there — although the yuccas and grasses are still green. But walk a little further…

…and bottlebrush seedheads of liatris glow white in the afternoon sun.

Like incandescent corn dogs, no?

A red-eared slider turtle adds his own pop of color.

More gold and crimson along the aqueduct

Let’s close with a few glorious golden cedar elms, this one standing elegantly over a meadowy planting of agave and Mexican feathergrass.

And a few more coloring the picnic area next to the parking lot. Let’s hope the fall colors continue post-freeze for the next few weeks. I have a feeling there’s more to come this year.

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