American beautyberry in fruit
October ushers in my favorite season. After the endless Texas summer, cool northern breezes begin to push back the Gulf humidity by the end of October, earlier if we’re lucky. As a child, I loved October because it is my birthday month, though that isn’t as much of a thrill as it used to be.
By October the American beautyberry glows with purple fruit. It looks spectacular paired with the fuchsia blooms of ‘Duchess of Albany’ clematis, which twines around my fence beside the beautyberry. The birds will have denuded the beautyberry by January, but for now it’s lovely. And the birds deserve a treat anyway.
The cooler weather brings the garden back to life, especially the salvias, which are perking up next to the autumn-blooming fall aster and native grasses.
Fall aster, shrub daisy, and Lindheimer muhly grass form three mounds of color and texture. The aster is irresistible to small bees, which busy themselves with it all day.
I’ve paired white mistflower (also known, interestingly, as shrubby white boneset) with a Lindheimer muhly grass. Both bring texture and brightness to the early fall garden.
A close-up of the pinkish, feathery seedheads of the Lindheimer muhly
Native lantana and skeleton-leaf goldeneye daisy warm up the front garden.
Another view of this bed, with purple spires of Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage) visible as well
In the back garden, ‘Indigo Spires’ salvia gets a second wind as the Lindheimer muhly grass feathers out for fall.
I really like this combination of yaupon holly underplanted with inland sea oats. The berries and seedpods appear at the same time and contrast nicely. If you plant inland sea oats, be warned that they seed out aggressively. You can prevent this by cutting off the seed heads, but then what’s the point?
This little anole lizard frequently stages a lookout from the garden angel’s head. Anoles, which can change color from green to brown, can often be found sunning themselves on our porch. The males have red dewlaps—pouches of skin under their throats—which they inflate for courtship or territorial display.
Hawk moth larva
Hawk moth caterpillar on the vitex
Here is an enormous hawk moth caterpillar, which I found crawling down our vitex tree one afternoon. I’d never seen one before and couldn’t resist pulling it off the tree to identify it and photograph it. The pencil shows how large it is. According to the information I found, it was probably heading down to the leaf litter under the tree to pupate. I put it back on the tree after a few minutes, but it climbed up instead of going down, and I fretted that I had fatally disrupted its mutation process. I hope it managed to get turned around again at some point. It’s fun to watch the hawk moths dart and hover during summer twilights, when I often see them pollinating the moonflower vine.