Thursday, September 25, 2014

The First Ones of Fall

Beautiful weather. Sunny, in the 60s. The recent rain has refreshed things, but it only made a slight dent in the overall dry conditions from this summer, and many plants are still showing stress.

The 'Tardiva' panicle hydrangea looks better now, though.

Right on cue, with the start of fall, some of the leaves start to turn colors. Here are the ones that go first every year.

The sumacs on the hill are always early.

Some red maples on the back hill turn scarlet before the others. The big red maples in the yard are still green and won't change for weeks yet.

The funny tiered sassafras draped in orange on the right is always one of the early ones, even as the sassafras right next to it remains deep green. This has always been the oddest pairing of the same species tree. They look completely unrelated.

The twiggy tuliptree in the meadow is yellow now. A wild species tuliptree came down in a storm in 2011, but this little one is a cultivar I planted called 'Little Volunteer', and it has small leaves and a much smaller size overall. It seems to be a slow grower too, unlike the wild rangy lirodendrons that leap up quickly.

The sweetspires in the middle of the Birch garden are deep red already and this seems earlier than other years. It is not usually noticeable until October, but this year it is eye grabbing a month earlier.

Geranium wlassovianum is multicolored now. In some years it has great fall color, other years it doesn't, and just looks brown and tired. I did not shear it after bloom this summer. I did take off the tangled flower stalks a few days ago to tidy it up.

All the spicebushes are glittery now. They are among the first of the shrubs to turn fall colors, always a lemony yellow and the leaves turn droopy which gives them a fluttery look.

The doublefile viburnum is among the first to color each year but it doesn't do it very dramatically. It gets brownish a few leaves at a time, but then slowly deepens to a rusty red brown color. It is definitely not as bright glossy red as the maples standing behind it, but it is nice in its own muted way.

When it comes to being first, the red buckeye gets the job done. Leaves turn yellow, and then drop completely before the end of September. The first year I thought it was drought stress or transplant adjustment, but it has done this each year (it's still a very young tree), so I guess it's just an early leaf dropper. The season's first, in fact.

Once fall starts to put on its show of color, it races by so fast.

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