Winter trees at the Wildflower Center


Shade trees in central Texas rarely grow into straight-trunked, towering giants. But what they lack in height they make up for in girth and character, like this twisting, spreading live oak at the Wildflower Center.


Another look


Smaller in stature but also full of character, this catclaw acacia (Acacia greggii var. wrightii) caught my attention too.


Moss clung to its bare branches.


Its wizened form was picturesque against the meadow grasses.


And of course there was possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua), in all its winter glory.


The possumhaws have never been so beautiful as this year, at least not in my memory.


What native trees stand out in your winter landscape?

I’ve been posting about the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center all week. To see my most recent post about winter’s quiet beauty at the Wildflower Center, click here.

All material © 2006-2010 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

19 Responses

  1. Cyndy says:

    Beautiful – live oaks are so full of character! Possumhaw – funny old name for a gorgeous shrub :)

    It is a funny name! Makes me wonder how it got named. —Pam

  2. Darla says:

    Not in my yard, but the Redbuds are putting on a good show in town! I love character in the garden..

    Redbuds are in bloom already? Not here, or not that I’ve seen yet. —Pam

  3. […] Click to see my recent post about the ongoing sculpture show at the Wildflower Center. Tune in tomorrow for sculptural or berry-bright trees at the Wildflower Center. […]

  4. linda says:

    Live oaks have such beautiful architecture Pam! Love the hollies – I added a male and female to our swale last year, and they seem quite happy there. I was surprised to see the berries all gone by early December – thought they’d last longer, but I’m glad they were enjoyed by the wildlife here.

    We’re enjoying our red-twig dogwoods, and the peeling bark of oakleaf hydrangea and river birch. Ok, the dogwoods and hydrangea aren’t trees, but they’re native and nice for stand-out winter interest.

    The American beautyberries always get eaten fast, but these possumhaws seem to be holding on to theirs. —Pam

  5. cheryl says:

    I wonder if the Possumhaw holly would grow in Sacramento?

    It seems pretty adaptable, Cheryl, and is native to the entire lower U.S., I think. You should give it a try. —Pam

  6. Wow, that Ilex is stunning! For a comparable berry display here in Denver, I think Winter King hawthorn would be a good choice—although it’s certainly not native. I’ve really been enjoying the tour, as always, Pam!

    Thanks for popping by, Jocelyn. I’d love to see your Winter King hawthorn someday. —Pam

  7. I love the gnarly structure of the Live Oaks. And, I agree that the Possumhaws have been spectacular this winter.
    We have a lot of Cedar Elms and Texas Persimmon, here, along side the Live Oaks. And, along the creeks and river, there are huge Cypress trees. All, give us interesting winter structure….and, a year round supply of leaves.

    The live oaks will be dropping their leaves in a sudden flurry very soon. I’m gearing up for the onslaught. —Pam

  8. Liza says:

    Your photos are gorgeous. I really like that possumhaw holly – it’s just beautiful.

    Thanks, Liza. —Pam

  9. Gail says:

    The possumhaws have been gorgeous here, too. I love this garden~it’s a gem. gail

    It is. I’m so glad we were able to show it off to the Spring Flingers back in 2008. —Pam

  10. Hello Pam,

    What beautiful trees. I just love trees with great branch architecture :^)

    You have those sorts in Arizona too, don’t you? Dry climates lead to twisty trees. —Pam

  11. Frances says:

    Hi Pam, I so admire the live oak and acacia trees, neither will grow here, but the winterberry hollies are also natives for us and are having a banner year as well. The Wildflower Center there is a gem, like Gail said. It is so helpful to see plants in winter, to understand the value they offer in home landscapes.

    Good point, Frances. Another great reason to visit botanical gardens in winter. —Pam

  12. Chookie says:

    You’d probably love Sydney Red Gums (Angophora costata) as they have a similar trunk habit to live oaks. You can imagine that the salmon trunk stands out in the bush!
    Here’s one picture: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1369/659907594_9a3eb8a5c6.jpg

    Ooh, I love that red bark—so unusual. Thanks for sharing, Chookie. —Pam

  13. Les says:

    Although they are not native, but might as well be, the Crape Myrtles really stand out here in the winter. They have a great winter character with their gnarled trunks and colorful bark.

    I find that when I am under and around a grouping of smaller trees or in a forest of them, I feel more attached to and at home with the landscape. When I am among towering giants I feel more like a visitor to some place sacred and feel like I should keep my voice down.

    I know what you mean, Les. And thanks for pointing out the crepe myrtle. We have lots and lots of those in Austin too, and they are as lovely in winter as in summer. —Pam

  14. Nell Jean says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this series of posts. Your live oaks grow more twisted than ours. I think water makes the difference.

    I plan to link to the previous post in this series in a post about Texas Mountain Laurel in which I mention The Wildflower Center. Let me know if that isn’t okay. Thanks.

    Links are great, Nell Jean, and much appreciated. I look forward to reading your post about one of my favorite native Texas trees. —Pam

  15. Jayne says:

    Those trees are stunning. I love the twisted trunks and moss. Wonderful photos.

    Thanks, Jayne. —Pam

  16. The hollies, the crapemyrtles, the mugo pines, the nandinas (in their many forms and textures). I’ll profile the nandinas in my foliage followup post on Tuesday.~~Dee

    I envy you the mugo pine, Dee. I bet it looks especially wonderful under a layer of snow. —Pam

  17. That holly was impressive to say the least. Don’t know when i’ve seen such a dramatic show of berries.

  18. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Pam, I’ve been noticing possumhaws here and thinking I need to plant some. The Wildflower Center is indeed strangely beautiful in winter.

  19. These are stunning photos of the trees. Just gorgeous.

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