Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall in Florida

 Last spring I featured some pictures in my blog of the Poinciana tree, a lovely import from the West Indies that produces brilliant red flowers each year. Today I’m sharing photos of the Golden rain tree, an elegant beauty that produces cones of yellow flowers in the fall, followed by salmon colored seed pods. Some of you may know it as the Chinese flame tree or varnish tree.

We can thank Thomas Jefferson for importing this tree from China in 1809 and Thomas Edison who introduced the Golden rain tree to Florida’s landscape at his Winter Estates.

The leaves of the Golden rain tree are beautiful in their own right, composed of small green protrusions on either side of a green stem (pinnately compound). Lacy in appearance, the leaves provide a fern-like backdrop for the blink-bright flower cones and the papery Chinese lantern pods that follow. Even though they are an eye-catcher, these trees are considered an “invasive exotic” because the seed pods can sprout and produce small trees faster than lightening, or at least faster than their deciduous neighbors.

Each fall, I look forward to seeing these trees go through their cycle of green, yellow, and salmon. While I was taking these photos, a great egret and a wood stork shared common space as they foraged together at a nearby pond. I may use these scenes in a future watercolor painting.

On my next blog, I’ll show you the completed (or near complete) 1920s geometric panel I started a few weeks ago. I decided to start with flapper boudoir art first. Stay tuned.