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More About Fall Color in Dallas 2018

The trees in North Texas are brighter and more colorful than ever — or at least that’s what some Dallas residents have determined.

Dallasites on Facebook have taken notice of the colorful fall foliage, with one poster saying, “All of that rain must’ve helped because I’ve never seen such pretty autumn leaves in Texas as I have this year.”

Another commenter said, “This year has been the prettiest of the 13 years we’ve been here.”

While that’s all conjecture, Daniel Cunningham, horticulturist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and self-proclaimed “Texas Plant Guy,” said Texans taking notice of brighter colors might be onto something.

Cunningham explained that cool weather helps to break down the chlorophyll — that’s the green pigment in plants — allowing the yellow and orange pigments to shine through. When temperatures reach just above freezing, it increases anthocyanin formation, and that pigment produces the red and purple leaves.

The rain storms that plagued North Texas recently may have also helped the trees keep their leaves longer, giving them more time to change colors for all to see.

A commenter in a Facebook thread of Frisco residents comparing North Texas’ fall leaves with the colors of Northeastern fall leaves said, “As a lover of all things fall and someone who finally did a fall foliage trip a couple of years ago, it really is stunning this year.”

Cunningham said that autumn is the best time to plant trees in Texas as well as the perfect excuse to head over to a local tree nursery.

Another Facebook user said, “It’s gorgeous if you take side streets to your destination wherever that may be just to see the foliage.”

Cunningham agreed.

“Folks, get outside and enjoy it,” he said. “Whether you do that by walking in your neighborhood or hiking around DFW, do it because we probably only have two more weeks of this lovely fall color to enjoy.”

Thank you to the Dallas Observer and Nashwa Bawab  for allowing us to print this story.

Ann Lamb

Click here for tree  suggestions to plant now that will be rock stars next spring, article by Daniel Cunningham

Japanese Maple picture by Starla

 

Fall Color in Dallas 2018

 

Sweetgum tree with brilliant fall color at Raincatcher’s Garden

Eric,

This Fall has been spectacular with so many kinds of trees with brilliant fall colors. Some had said it has to do with our long hot summer while others have said the rain came at just the right time and it’s a combination of the two weather factors.

What do you think is causing such beautiful fall color in 2018?

What trees would you recommend for fall color? Say someone wants to buy a tree this fall in hopes for future fall color in their yard.

What about Shantung Maples, I see alot of those in my neighborhood and I like the shape of them. Ann

Hi Ann – So good to hear from you. I agree with you 100 % on the beautiful fall colors for many of our trees in the Urban Forest. There are many different opinions on the reasons for the beautiful colors this Fall. The truth is that tree people know that temperature(highs and lows), water, first freeze date, all play a part in the Fall colors but cannot figure out the exact timing of these variables to come up with a nice tidy equation that will let us all know when to expect the beautiful  colors.

My neighbor from New York planted a Bradford Pear a few years ago . She loved the Fall colors but also found out the final ending for Bradford Pears is not pretty. I suggested she might want to look at the Shantung Maple. She planted one four years ago and every year would ask me when the beautiful oranges and reds would show up. I told her to be patient, the yellow colors looked great but it wasn’t until this Fall that she finally got the brilliant oranges that she has been waiting on. I am thinking of trying one of the Shantung maples at RCG. I have given up on the Ginkgo. They require too much tender loving care for the first two years and we need to recommend trees that are hardy and can survive with a minimum amount of care to the public. I would also like to be able to fine a Big Tooth Maple but availability in the nurseries is very limited.

I think you are on the right trail with the Shantung.

Have a great Holiday season,

Eric

Thank you,Eric, and thank you for all the effort and thought you put into our demonstration forest at Raincatcher’s!

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

Eric Larner is a Dallas County Master Gardener from the class of 2006 and a Citizen Forester. He and his wife, Jane(also a Master Gardener) work at The Raincatcher’s Garden and many other places in Dallas planting and speaking about trees.

 

Butterflies at Raincatcher’s Garden, Fall 2018

Where have all the butterflies gone? We enjoyed so many this fall in our garden.

Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from Tithonia, Mexican Sunflower.

Cloudless Sulphur butterfly on a canna in our color wheel.

Queen butterfly alight Lantana, Miss Huff.

American Snout on an Okra blossom.

By late November, most butterflies have bred and died. Their  offspring  overwinter in egg, larva, or chrysalis form until next spring.

 Some adult butterflies have gone farther south and some overwinter in Dallas as adults.  Monarch migration is perhaps the most well knows but also  the Painted Lady, Common Buckeye, American Lady, Red Admiral, Cloudless Sulphur, Skipper, Sachem, Question Mark, Clouded Skipper, Fiery Skipper and Mourning Cloak  migrate to warmer regions.
Ann Lamb
Pictures by Starla Willis. Thank you, Starla!

Fascinating news from the Native Plant Society-click to read their newsletter.

Recipes from the Apples, Pears, Persimmons, Pomegranate Lunch

Nature’s grand finale plated!

Bake Brie with Roasted Persimmons

Ingredients

2 (8-ounce) wheels of Brie, rinds intact

Roasted Persimmons, chopped (recipe follows)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons water

1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

Seasonal fruit

Crackers

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut 1 wheel of Brie in half horizontally. Place half of Roasted Persimmons on one half of Brie, and top with remaining half. Repeat with remaining wheel of Brie and remaining Roasted Persimmons.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 2 tablespoons water.

On a lightly floured surface, roll puff-pastry sheet to ⅛-inch thickness. Place 1 Brie round on puff pastry; fold pastry over Brie, cut away excess dough, and invert Brie onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining Brie and puff pastry. Using an acorn-shaped cutter, cut 2 acorns from remaining dough. Using a pastry brush, brush dough with egg wash. Place 1 acorn on each Brie round, pressing gently to adhere; brush with egg wash.

Bake until pastry is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve with seasonal fruit and cracker.

Yield: Makes 10 to 12 servings

Roasted Persimmons

Ingredients

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brandy

¼ teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

4 cardamom pods

4 whole cloves

2 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

4 persimmons, blanched, peeled, and quartered

Directions

Preheat oven to 450˚F.

In a cast-iron or ovenproof skillet, combine syrup, sugar, brandy, salt, vanilla bean, cardamom, cloves, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Add persimmons.

Roast until fruit is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Remove persimmons, discarding spices and vanilla bean. Chop persimmons. Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Yield: Makes 2 cups

 

Butternut Squash-Pear Soup garnished with Parmesan and Chopped Rosemary

Butternut Squash-Pear Soup

Ingredients

1 (2.5-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 2-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup vegetable oil, divided

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1 ½ cups chopped onion

1 shallot, minced

1 quart chicken broth

2 cups half-and-half

1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger

6 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and chopped

Garnish: shaved Parmesan cheese, fresh rosemary

Directions

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and coat foil with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine squash and garlic. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Transfer squash mixture to prepared pan. Bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool.

In a Dutch oven, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallot, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add squash mixture, chicken broth, and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add half-and-half, rosemary, and ginger, stirring to combine. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. Add pears to mixture.

In the container of a blender, puree mixture, working in batches, until smooth. Return mixture to pan, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Garnish with Parmesan and rosemary, if desired.

Yield: Makes 8 servings

Figs, Pomegranates, Persimmons and Pear Salad

Salad of Figs, Pomegranates, Persimmons and Pears

Ingredients

½ cup walnut halves

2 large heads frisee, carefully rinsed and stems trimmed

1 Fuyu persimmon, cut into thin slices

1 Red Bartlett pear, halved, cored and cut into thin slices

6 fresh figs, halved through the stem end

Directions

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Arrange the frisee, sliced persimmon and pear, and fig halves on individual plates, dividing them equally. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Alternately, arrange salad on a large platter.  Drizzle with the Pomegranate Salad Dressing.

Yield: Serves 4

Pomegranate Salad Dressing

Ingredients

½ cup Pomegranate Syrup (see recipe)

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

⅛ teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously. Chill.

Yield: ⅔ cup

Pomegranate Syrup

Ingredients

4 cups pomegranate seeds (4 large pomegranates)

3 ½ cups sugar

Directions

Combine seeds and sugar in a large glass bowl; cover and chill at least 8 hours.

Transfer mixture to a heavy non-aluminum saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes.

Pour mixture through a cheesecloth-lined colander; press against sides of colander with back of a spoon to squeeze out juice. Discard pulp.

Pour juice into a 1-quart sterilized jar; cover with lid, and screw on band. Cool; store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 3 cups

Persimmon Cookies

Persimmon Cookies

Ingredients

2 large ripe persimmons, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 cup sugar

⅔ cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Position knife blade in food processor bowl; add persimmon, and process until smooth, stopping once to scrape down sides. Measure 1 cup pulp.

Combine pulp, sugar, oil, and egg, stirring until smooth.

Combine flour, soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl; add persimmon mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in raisins and walnuts.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375˚F for 9 minutes. Transfer to wire racks placed on wax paper. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring until smooth; drizzle over warm cookies. Cool.

Yield: 5 dozen

Autumn Orchard Crisp

Ingredients

3 pounds firm, flavorful apples

1 pound pears

Juice of ½ lemon

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut up

1 ½ cups chopped walnuts

½ cup coarsely chopped cranberries

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Peel, core and slice the apples and pears. Toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice and granulated sugar.

Place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, butter, and half the nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Process until blended and crumbly.

Spread one-third of the crumb mixture on the bottom of the prepared pan, top with half of the sliced fruit and scatter over half of the cranberries. Top with the second third of the crumb mixture.

Layer on the remaining sliced fruit and sprinkle over the remaining cranberries. Mix the remaining nuts with the remaining crumb mixture and spread over the top.

Bake until well browned and slightly bubbly, about 1 hour. Cool to warm and top with whipped cream or ice cream.

Yield: Serves 8

Review our horticultural lesson on

apples, pears, poms and persimmons here.

Linda Alexander

Pictures by Starla Willis and Linda Alexander

 

Growing Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates

Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates, nature’s grand finale!

Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service inspired us to start planting, growing and harvesting the fruits of the season. For Raincatcher’s, it was our last and final class of 2018 in the series.  With an abundance of fall fruits ripe and ready for harvest, we gathered up our pens and paper for a very educational presentation. Highlights from Jeff’s lecture included the following:

General Information for Fruit Trees

Your first consideration should be selecting the right variety for our climate and soils. Plant trees during dormancy, January to early February in a slightly raised mound rich in compost and top-dressed with mulch.  Bare root trees are preferred as they will outgrow a container plant. Want to know if you have a healthy tree? Scratch the root. If it’s the color of cooked spaghetti, it’s a viable tree.

All fruit growth happens within the first 45 days of fruit set (after bloom). At that time, the plant needs constant water (1-3” per week). The fruit won’t get any bigger or sweeter after the first 45 days, it just develops the seed.

In terms of “chill hours,” our Zone 8b previously was between 600-950 hours. Currently we are between 600-800 hours. Our winters are getting colder but shorter due to climate change.

Apples and pears need a cross-pollinator…another tree that blooms at the same time. Both trees grow spurs, short and stout twigs that bear the fruit buds year after year. That’s one reason  you can espalier the tree and have fruit on those limbs. This is in contrast to peaches that bear fruit on new growth every year.

The second consideration is pruning. As a ‘rule-of-thumb’, if you can’t see the fruit then you’re not getting enough sun. Thin the fruit when it’s the size of a nickel. The goal here is to have only 3-4 fruits per limb, spaced about 6 inches apart. Each flower will produce one fruit; too many fruits on a limb will create smaller fruit and risk the branch breaking under the weight.

The third consideration is fertilizer. Instead of fertilizer, mix finished compost into your mound, then top-dress 1-2 times per year. Finished compost is homogenous. When you hold a fistful, there are no telltale leaves or twigs in it. If you do choose to fertilize or use chemicals, don’t use them before a rain event. Rain doesn’t wash the chemicals in, it washes them out. Mulch for weed control. Not only do weeds take nutrients away from the plants, they are a home for the insects that attack the plant.

Apples (Best varieties for the DFW metroplex, with chill hours)

Gala (600)

Mollies Delicious (500-600)

Mutsu (500-900)

Golden Delicious (500-600)

Granny Smith (400-600)

Aim for a variety that has about 600 chill hours. A tree that has more, or less, will live but won’t bear fruit. When is the fruit ripe? Look for green that is starting to add color, or if a bird pecks at it. If you cut it open and find a black seed, it’s ripe. If the seed is green, it is not yet completely ripe.

Pears

(Best varieties for the DFW metroplex, with chill hours)

European varieties:

Warren (600)

Moonglow (700)

Ayers (600)

Asian varieties:

Shinko (500)

Shin Li (500)

In addition to chill hours, these varieties are resistant to fire blight. *Bartlett is especially vulnerable to fire blight and strongly not recommended for this area. All the above varieties can cross pollinate with one another.

Pomegranates

(Best varieties for the DFW metroplex)

Wonderful and Al-sirin-nar

The pomegranate is a part of the crepe myrtle family. It is a wild and unruly bush that needs to grow as a bush and fruits best when not pruned to grow as a tree. However, it can be trimmed to maintain an attractive form. It is self-fertile and doesn’t need another plant for cross-pollination. Pomegranates don’t ripen after being picked. Wait to pick until the fruit is ripe, it should give a little when you squeeze it gently.

Persimmons

(Best varieties for the DFW metroplex)

Eureka (a flat variety, less tannic and can be eaten when firm or soft)

Hachiya (this is the cone-shaped variety, very tannic and only edible when soft)

Based on the variety, persimmons can be self-fertile or need cross-pollination. Persimmon tree branches are thicker and can handle a heavy fruit load.

Immediately following Jeff’s presentation, members and guests were treated to bountiful buffet table bursting with seasonal flavor. It was a feast for both the eyes and the palate.

 A few of the recipes that were developed for this special event will be posted tomorrow:

Baked Brie with Roasted Persimmons

Butternut Squash-Pear Soup garnished with Parmesan and Chopped Rosemary

Salad of Figs, Pomegranates, Persimmons and Pears with Pomegranate Dressing

Autumn Orchard Crisp

Persimmon Cookies

written by Lisa Centala and Linda Alexander from Jeff Rasks’s presentation

 

Brussel Sprouts

As master gardeners, we really dig a good reason to gather around the table. When delicious, garden-fresh food is involved we’re “all in”. That’s what happened a few weeks ago when we surprised our Raincatcher’s team leader, Lisa Centala, with a ‘bring your favorite dish’ salad buffet for her special birthday.

A tantalizing line up of salad bowls and platters was spread out the length of two 8-foot tables. We didn’t hesitate to fill our plates with the most amazing variety of green salads, vegetable salads, chicken salads and more. Approaching the end of the line were Artichoke Bites, Baguette slices spread with basil cream cheese and Hatch chili biscuits. No restraint was shown as evidenced by plates full of our garden-inspired selections.

One particular dish new to many of us and requested by all was the Zesty Brussels Sprouts. True to its name, the apple cider vinegar combined with sugar and horseradish was soaked up by each little sprout. They had just the right amount of zip to satisfy the palate. Kathey Roberts graciously shared the recipe for everyone to enjoy.

Raincatcher’s Iconic Picture of Brussel Sprouts! Agree?

Now is the time to plant Brussels sprouts. With their long maturity date, transplants should be in your garden by October 15th. 

Zesty Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

2 (10-ounce) bags frozen Brussels sprouts or use fresh from your garden or produce isle

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

5 Tablespoons prepared horseradish (not cream of horseradish)

Salt to taste

2 teaspoons dry mustard

Directions

Cook the sprouts according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, vinegar, horseradish, salt and mustard. Add the sprouts and toss lightly. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

For more information about Brussel sprouts and a video about their care read here.

Linda Alexander

By the way, only 6 tickets left for the Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates lunch on October 16th.  Lecture is free.

 

“Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates” Class and Lunch

 

“Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates”

Nature has been saving up all year for the grand finale.

You’ll be inspired by this colorful class on planting, growing and harvesting the fruits of the season.

Tuesday, October 16th, 10:00am – 11:30pm

Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills * 11001 Midway Road

Instructor: Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

(The class is free – no reservation required. The public is welcome, and Master Gardeners earn one-hour education credit)

Immediately following Jeff’s presentation in the church sanctuary, you are invited to join us in the Community Hall for a bountiful buffet table bursting with seasonal flavor. This will be a feast for both the eyes and the palate.

Lunch reservations required by Tuesday, October 9th * $15 Per Person * Limited to 60

Eventbrite Ticket Sales for Apples, Pears, Persimmons and Pomegranates

Menu

Baked Brie with Roasted Persimmons

Cinnamon Candied Apple Slices

Butternut Squash-Pear Soup Garnished with Parmesan and Rosemary

Tennessee Ham Balls with Brown Sugar Glaze

Salad of Figs, Pomegranates, Persimmons and Pears with Pomegranate Dressing

Autumn Orchard Crisp, Persimmon Cookies, Caramel Apple Layer Cake with Apple Cider Frosting

Pineapple Sage Infused Water

Linda Alexander

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