We often associate spring with flowers, but take a look around and you'll see many trees and plants are blooming and changing colors right now.
Our state tree, the bald cypress, puts on a wonderful show at this time of year when it turns from orange to red before it drops its leaves in late November.
Commonly found in swamps and around ponds and lakes, the bald cypress creates a dramatic scene against the water.
Another tree that's particularly gorgeous is the flowering golden rain tree.
Golden rain trees are striking because of their large panicles of bright yellow flowers which are followed by pink seed pods. Native to Asia, this tree grows well here and is hardy in zones 5-9. It can grow to 30 to 40 feet in height and width. It is relatively drought tolerant, can handle clay soil and air pollution. It has no real insect or disease problems, making it easy to care for.
One drawback with rain trees is that those gorgeous seed pods self-seed, leading to more trees. Young volunteers are easily pulled or cut back. This tree, in my opinion, is worth the hassle for that signature fall bloom.
Plenty of commonly used landscape species also provide beautiful fall color, such as crape myrtles, Shumard oaks, swamp red maple, Chinese pistache trees, flaming sumac, southern sugar maple, ginkgo biloba, hackberry, sycamore, green ash, lacebark elm, pecan and more.
Also blooming at this time of year are cassia trees with their gorgeous yellow blooms, angel’s trumpet and ever-blooming roses, such as Dream and Knock Out.
Hollies are another great choice for coloring your landscape. Dark green, glossy foliage and brilliant red berries in late fall into winter, the evergreen hollies make wonderful holiday decorations. Good ones to try are Savannah holly and Foster’s holly. The native hollies include the yaupon holly, deciduous holly and winterberry. All provide sources of food for wildlife.
Another shrub with good fall foliage change and berries is nandina — commonly referred to as heavenly bamboo.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the camellias that are about to put on their big show this winter. Some early blooming varieties can be seen now. Additionally, fragrant bushes and trees such as sweet olive and banana shrub are in bloom, making both visual and fragrant sensory pleasers.
The days are getting shorter, but there is a small window in Louisiana when it feels like spring again. With so many new displays of color, smells and sounds in nature, it’s a great time of year for gardening.