Friday, December 22, 2017

Maples, bitter oranges and other thoughts on Fall turning to Winter

While most places waved goodbye long ago to autumn's turning leaves and fading blooms, South Texas (despite one freak snowstorm) enjoyed our usual long, warm fall season.  The temperatures have been in the mid-70s the past few days so I've been out walking. 

One of my favorite neighborhood sights during fall is this maple tree which bursts into bright yellow-orange for a few days each fall.  It's probably a Shantung Maple from China because the leaves look smaller than our native Big Tooth Maple.

While the Red Oak next door gets good color it's the evergreen tree just in front that is quickly becoming a favorite.

Our neighbor brought seeds for this sour orange tree from his native Honduras.  The trees are descendants of Seville oranges brought to the New World in the 17th Century by Spanish explorers.

Sevilles are not pretty grocery store oranges and their bitter juice is astringent on the tongue.  High pectin content makes them excellent for marmalade which I had fun making last year.

This year I used them in Mojo, a citrus marinade, for grilled chicken and also made a delicious Sour Orange Pie.  Most "Sour Orange" recipes include various methods to approximate the taste of hard-to-find Seville oranges so I am very appreciative that I have been invited to take as many sour oranges as I can use.

Sticking with the citrus theme we have a bumper crop of Mexican Limes which are the same as Key Limes.   It usually takes about 20 of these tiny fruits to make a Key Lime pie but so worth it since lime juice doesn't get any fresher than straight off the tree.

Meyer Lemons are ripening just in time for Lemon Cheescake.  So nice to have fresh lemon and limes at hand.

We finally produced a Pomegranate with seeds worth eating!

There are five fruiting Pomegranate trees in the garden which look great but rarely produce good seeds before rotting or splitting.

In more news, the front landscape survived last week's snow with very little damage.  Not a bit of tip burn on the Cycad.

Golden Barrels are fine, just a little wet.

Seedheads on grasses are heavy with all the rain we've had this past week.

Fortunately most of my dry-loving plants like this Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' are planted in fast-draining gravel.

One more warm day and then we'll have a cold front.

It's raining again this morning.  No snow predicted for Christmas.


  1. That first photo of the backlit maple is spectacular, Shirley. Your garden looks great after its flirtation with snow too. Pomegranates - yum! Best wishes for a merry Christmas!

    1. Pretty amazing how everything came through. So many of these plants are susceptible to tip burn.

  2. You're definitely taking advantage of the various microclimates or at least manipulating them well to grow so much. Limes? I had no idea...that means margaritas to me. Merry Christmas to you two!

    1. Limes on the side. We'd never mess up good tequila by mixing it! The maple tree belongs to your friend Mark. Should have mentioned that. Merry Christmas to you!

  3. Mid-70s would be so nice! But I can't really complain about 40s for highs in December here in Madison. It hasn't been a tough winter...yet! You've actually had more snow than we have, so far. I do hope we'll get a nice snow cover before the really cold weather hits. Shirley, your photos of the autumn foliage are so beautiful!

    1. I read that we'd had more snow than most places, I'm sure you'll beat us out the rest of the winter though.

  4. Pomegranate! That would have been something to have here in London, I am still longing for my lemon tree to produce fruit for me, hoping this year will be the one!
    I loved the first photo, beautiful colours!
    Wishing you and yours a happy Christmas and all the best for 2018!


Thank you for stopping by. To comment simply open the Name/URL option, put in your name or initials and skip the URL.