No Fall Colors in Texas?

Yesterday I was lucky to be a part of a small group of friends touring the Gardens of John Fairey in Hempsted, Texas. These gardens only open to the public a few times each Fall and a few times each Spring. The guide who showed and talked us through the garden knew it all, where this plant had come from, how far out of it’s native range it was in this location, what it would do in the Winter, how it began in the Spring, it was impressive. sq-bluetooth-yucca.jpg

On of the last things our guide said was “In Texas there are no fall colors” he went on to say because the garden was a collection of plants from around the world, there were changes in Winter, but most change would occur in the Spring. Hearing “no fall colors” made me realize once again, I’m not in Virginia anymore. I wonder if I’ll miss the colors? The Blue Ridge Mountains in our part of Virginia were covered in a rich mix of Maple, Oak, Cherry, Locust, Poplar with the occasional PawPaw and Hickory for added flavor. These deciduous hardwoods seemed to explode in reds, yellows, oranges and browns with the shortening of the days light each year. A botanist told me once that those colors were already in the leaf, it was just the suspension of Chlorophyl production that we were witnessing. I can’t really say, but liked the idea that the color was already there, and that change brought it into our view. It’s similar to hearing a sculptor explain why making art out of Marble is easy “you just cut away everything that isn’t art” “the art is and has been always inside the stone.” Very interesting.

I’m not sure if I am the leaf or the stone in this story, certainly there are things that have always been inside me, and now the light of Texas is making them visible, even to me, for what seems to be the first time. But in the leaf, the color is revealed by stopping the production of Chlorophyl, the green camo, then the leaf falls, becomes part of the earth, and feeds the next leaf. I’m lost on that part of the analogy right now. But there is deep insight there somewhere…if we could just dig away all this manure…I’m sure there is a pony in there somewhere…

Today, my Uncle Tom has a wing of a school dedicated in his name. What an honor, what a career (almost 50 years). I’ve written about heroes among us before, as a K-12 teacher, Uncle Tom is one of those. He’s one of the people who had the wisdom to see possibility coming out of loss. When Dad was dying, Uncle Tom encouraged me to examine my life, and if there were things I was doing that I didn’t love, to push the reset button, because everyone will understand. I took his advice, pushed the button, and like magic, I’m here in Texas wondering about missing Fall color.

I usually let my eyes wander in gardens, the camera follows and I usually do a poor job of bringing the two together in a photograph, but it is interesting to me to view the photos as a group and understand what I’m looking at. Is it Pattern? Form? Color? Contrast? Today at the Peckerwood Garden, it was color and edge. The cactus made it easy for me. Brilliant Blue teeth, Red Spikes, Yellow Pins set against greys and blues and greens, the colors are a warning to us, “These barbs will cause pain!” While each of us on the tour backed into one of these along the tour, what causes pain for us protects the cactus.

These pointy bits are my fall colors for this year, and were easy to see in the garden’s light. I’ll post more in my image folder once I complete the image processing, but now, the dryer beckons so, be good to each other!

Remember the heroes among us, appreciate a teacher today!

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