A Change of Seasons

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The weather has taken a “fallish” turn here in north Mississippi where I have been able to spend time lately. I’ll take these mid-60’s temperatures any day!  One of  nature’s late summer and early fall bounties are the spectacular blooms from a friend’s two Golden Rain trees (Koelreuteria paniculata).  Lifelong friend, Betty Howard, who was a dear friend of my Mother’s, refers to it as an Oriental Rain tree. Regardless of the proper name, this tree, native to eastern Asia, is a wonderful shade producing tree that provides color in the late summer. The larger of her two trees, soars close to forty feet high!  Wispy clusters of tiny yellow flowers, appearing on the trees during late summer, resemble powdery, airy golden “rain”.  After the flowering process , papery seed capsules form.  These lantern shaped pods are even prettier then the flowers!   First they appear pale green, but they will eventually ripen to a salmon pink color.  For several years now, Betty has had her yard man harvest the branches, and she loves to share them.  I was fortunate to be here just at the proper harvest time a few weeks ago to help with the process.

The Golden Rain Tree pictures below were photographed in late August.

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Below are pictures showing the unique, lantern shaped pods that are perfect for floral design. The pictures below were taken about 3 weeks ago.

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A close-up view of the pods:  the foliage even dries beautifully!

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Another fall phenomenon around the little town of Pontotoc that I’ve looked forward to is the harvesting of fruit (a.k.a. horse apples) from the Osage Orange (Maclura Pomifera) or Bodock tree as it is known around these parts. The wood from this unassuming tree was highly prized by French settlers in the area for bow making because of its firmness and flexibility. Although Bodock trees are also found from the Great Plains almost to the Rocky Mountains  as well as portions of the  Pacific Northwest,  I always grew up with the belief that they were unique to Pontotoc!  The town recently had its annual Bodock Festival, a annual arts and crafts extravaganza and music festival.  Of course, the bodock balls are perfect for incorporating into fall floral designs.  (I have actually seen some fabulous “imitation” bodock balls that are almost indiscernible from the real ones.

Below is a Bodock tree that borders my family’s property.  It’s twisted branches and massive trunk created the perfect backdrop for childhood play..

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Pontotoc is the home of “Lochinvar’, a gorgeous antebellum home.  The largest Bodock tree in the state of Mississippi was at Lochinvar until a deadly tornado in 2001 destroyed it along with much of the home. Fortunately, the house was restored to its former glory.

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Look closely to see the distinctive “fruit” of the Bodock tree in the two pictures below..

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The transition phase of the holly berries from green to orange signals that fall has arrived here..

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The magnolia tree pods have taken on a lovely melon color..

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To welcome weekend guests, I did some fall arrangements in the garden area utilizing the early fall bounty on our property along with the oriental rain tree pods.

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I incorporated English ivy and Lenten Rose (lenten hellebore) foliage into the design below which was done in the garden’s bird bath..

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Enjoy the transition to fall wherever you are!

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O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow,
Make the day seem to us less brief…
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst…

~Robert Frost

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COMING SOON:  PONTOTOC’S BEST KEPT SECRET:  THE BODOCK BED AND BREAKFAST

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9 thoughts on “A Change of Seasons

  1. This is your best blog yet…not only beautiful but super educational ( informative)… I say this one is off the charts and your getting better and better as you do these blogs…keep going you are going to reach the stars…and I mean probably a famous magazine or something…I feel it in the breeze! 🙂 your pal, Lisa

  2. Mary Lise, I really enjoyed this blog and your pics also! Can tell you have inherited your mom’s flower arranging talent and are quite the journalist also! Thanks so much for sharing! Julia Johnstone Hogue

  3. Loved the picures of the Golden Rain tree. My husband has been looking for one because he says he has heard the bees love the flowers.

  4. Mary Lise, I was reading your blog, without knowing it was you! The more I read, the more familiar the connection! Thank you for the wonderful information, pictures, and memories! Your family has been such a blessing to our little community and my family and I have been so fortunate to be recipients of their many kindnesses, talents, and love–I am forever grateful! And, the Delta Gamma House at Ole Miss has never looked more beautiful than when your precious Mother filled it to overflowing with her magnificent roses! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    • Thanks so much, Cindy, for your sweet comments! I will alway have strong ties to Pontotoc, and I am thrilled that Claire and Bob are making it their home. I, to, have so many fond memories of Mother’s arrangements she loved to share with the Delta Gammas for rush!

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