2014 Fall Splendor at Powell Gardens

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2014 Fall Splendor at Powell Gardens

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru, Newsworthy

Fall color is actually about a week earlier than normal this year. We have had a great growing season with ample rain with just two minor, three-week dry spells. Fall color was lackluster on some tree species despite the perceived perfect conditions while some trees have been as beautiful as ever.  Go figure.

Here’s a picture of a Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) in full fall color on the Dogwood Walk today (October 27, 2014). Flowering Dogwoods have put on a spectacular fall display again this year and throughout the Greater Kansas City Community.

Northern Red Oaks (Quercus rubra) are just starting to show color — this a branch over the Byron Shutz Nature Trail taken Sunday (October 26, 2014).

Most of the Northern Red Oaks’ fall colors look like this tree’s canopy, also taken on the Byron Shutz Nature Trail — a lovely burnt red.

The pawpaw patch (Asimina triloba) along the nature trail had lost most of its leaves with a few hanging on and glowing yellow in the beautiful sunshine against our Royals blue sky!

The Osage Oranges (Maclura pomifera) A.K.A. hedge apples are also ripe and were falling in yesterday’s winds.

The native prairie grasses are also in their fall attire — this is a mass of Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) with flaming foliage blades and glistening seed heads.The warm colors of our warm season grasses seem under-appreciated and they have never looked better along the trail.

The flower season is about at its end but our native Aromatic Asters (Aster/Symphyotrichum oblongifolius) are in full splendor. They’re a rich nectar source for last of the season pollinators including butterflies.

If one looked closely, this little native annual was also still in bloom along the trail — it has the un-glamorous name of clammy cuphea (Cuphea viscosum). You can see the sticky hairs at the base of its purple flowers so the plant does feel clammy. It’s a close relative of the tropical firecracker, Micky mouse, and bat-faced cupheas grown as annuals in the garden.

There is a bumper crop of fruits on the Powell Gardens 970 acres this year — these are wild grapes (Vitis sp. — I can’t tell our four species apart without leaves) but I think these are the gray grape. They were delicious at any rate. It is going to be a great winter for wildlife and birds with all this bounty to sustain them through the cold.

The Southern Magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) are loaded with colorful red fruits now too — this is our cultivar ‘Margarite’ on the north side of the Visitor Center.

Our  Smooth Agave (Agave desmettiana) has also opened its first flowers on a stalk that has reached over 16 feet tall! We moved it indoors into the Conservatory for all visitors to enjoy.

The flowers are larger than you might think and so full of nectar I got a sticky hand from this light touch. I believe this agave is pollinated by bats.

And… in case you missed it on our Facebook post, I have to share this lovely seedling of West Texas Sage (Salvia reptans) we grew on the Island Garden. It has intense royal blue, larger flowers and a much shorter stature than typical West Texas Sage, which is wispy and tall. We already have a national perennial wholesaler interested in this plant. I believe it is a natural hybrid with the Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) we also have on the Island Garden.  It’s a beautiful perennial — perfect as a fall blooming last hurrah of the season. Go Royals!