Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fall has peaked like never before in the Parched Woods

Rush Haven street in the Village of Indian Springs Fall, 2011
How is it that we marvel at the beauty of the Fall color in The Woodlands Texas this year? Our trees have been stretched beyond their safety zone of tolerance in a severe summer that broke heat records for the area. And the suffering of our trees did not stop there. They had no water to drink to fight the thirst brought by that heat. A drought of previously unknown proportions had gripped the area for months... and now?
Most oftentimes yellow but at times, totally red

The trees are singing after that thirst has been quenched by two months of decent rain followed by an early cold spell to sprinkle the leaves with a light frost. So we have an insanely gorgeous Fall, resembling a painting of a forest in its splendid glory in the Northeast of the country. And just before Christmas, we get to see this spectacular show! How lucky we are!
Flintridge at Gosling Rd, The Woodlands Texas
This story is that we should take our hats off to one species of tree in particular. Some people dislike the gum balls of the Sweetgum tree, but I love this tree. It has beauty that outshines every native tree here. It's bloom in the Spring is not so colorful but intricately beautiful. The gum balls are very useful as fillers in gardens when they fall off the tree. The bright green star-shaped leaves early in the summer are unique and vivid. Every Fall, the Sweetgum drops its yellow leaves, but never have the colors been so vivid as this year.
Hwy 1488 in Montgomery County Texas offers a view of the natural forest setting
When you see these colors in the forest this late in the year, there is an 80% chance that the colors are from this native species alone. There are a few other less plentiful species also contributing to the colors, such as the Red Maple or the Chinese Tallow (an invasive species showing very vivid colors), or the Crepe Myrtle.
Inside looking out at a Sweetgum in its full glory
The spectacular showing of color in the Fall is an excellent reason to have living trees on your property. Living in the forest is why I live here. I hope you would live here for the same reason. That is what this community is - life in the forest, a vestige of the great Piney Woods of East Texas. I would not live in this community without the forest.