Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Searching for Color

Blue Jay Barrens has transitioned quickly into a winter like appearance. The cedars are green and the grasses still hold some of their golden hue, but the colors of fall have been left behind. I have this feeling that I somehow missed the annual show of colors. The drought certainly hurt the display this year. Many leaves went directly from green to brown. The trees that did color couldn’t fill the voids left by brown or early shed leaves. I’m desperately searching for a way to satisfy my need for autumn color.

If the drought doesn’t abate soon, the big cedars will take on the orange-brown glow shown by this seedling. That would certainly give me some color, but it’s just depressing to think of trees being orange when they are supposed to be green. I need to find another source of color.

I just need to think on a smaller scale. Down close to the ground are a few plants that have responded to the cool temperatures by brightening the color of their leaves. This Dwarf St. Johnswort has chosen soft pastels for its going into winter wardrobe.

Wild Strawberries turn a bright red in response to cold temperatures. Most of these plants are hidden by tall grass and it takes a bit of digging to find them.

Greenbriers provide a brilliant orange when backlit by the sun. The exposed vines have already dropped their leaves, but young vines hidden in the short grass are still putting on a good show.

Basal leaves of the goldenrods display the reddish purple color that I associate with cool temperatures. This is a common color of plants in the early spring and late fall. I think I’m ready to be seeing the reddish purples of late March. Is it too early to be thinking of spring?

I had to pull this bright red Dewberry up out of the grass for a good shot. The Dewberry stems sprawl through the grass at just the right height to tangle around your ankles. These plants may even display some intelligence. How else can you explain their ability to work as a team; one stem pulling your pant leg up above your boot top while the other scratches a pattern across your shin?

A young sprout of the Late Low Blueberry has taken on a Christmas red. I guess that’s OK since the stores have now declared Halloween to be the start of the Christmas season.

This may be the last of the asters for this year. I guess there’s still a bit of color at Blue Jay Barrens. You just have to move the dead stuff out of the way to get a look at it.


  1. Lovely colors. The shades of Fall have surprised me this year. At first I thought we wouldn't seen many at all because of the lack of rain, but we did have some here in Cincy and many, many beautiful colors in our travels.

  2. Hi Steve..I am still alive..
    I have been noticing how these plants close to the ground are diplaying this lovely shades of red !!
    Perhaps they want to be noticed and wait until we stop looking up to the big trees for color!!

  3. Hi, Lois. I did get to see some nice color while traveling and some of it was very close to home. My area just seemed to be in a dead zone this year.

    Hi, grammie g. I guess those little plants are being pretty sensible. No sense being colorful on the ground when everyone is looking up at the trees.

  4. beautiful, thoughtful and informative posts as always - thank you!

    i've been wondering more about the plant chemistry behind the fall colours, and found some simplified explanations here: http://chemistry.about.com/library/weekly/aa082602a.htm
    yeah, i know it's an "about.com" post, but the good woman has a PhD and it's all in line w/ way more complicated explanations i've been reading.

    happy american thanksgiving!

  5. Thanks, Native Plant Girl. I'll check out that site.