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The leaves, they are a changing

Iris GW
16 years ago

How beautiful it is! I am having so much fun driving around these days because of the incredible colors (sorry to the people driving behind me if I'm going just a bit too slow).

The dogwoods are beautiful shades of burgundy, the hickories are turning golden yellow, the maples are various shades of yellow, orange and red.

On the wild roadsides of uncultivated south Cherokee county, the brillant colors of Sassafras, Serviceberry and Sourwood are a red-orange feast for the eyes! These plants are not used nearly enough in gardens (apparently they don't have a very good press agent).

Muscadine grape vines, previously unnoticed as they snaked their way through green foliage of trees, are now revealed in drapes of golden leaves, especially in pine trees. Stands of sumac are startling in their elecric red/hot pink displays.

Oak trees have yet to change, but occasionally you can spot red tips as an individual branch launches into fall early. In the meantime, oaks and pines make wonderful foils for the other colors.

As I drive around or walk through the neighborhood, I try to guess what tree I'm seeing based on the color of the fall leaves. Purplish leaves almost always are sweet gums although mine is yellow this year with but one purple branch. There are so many shades of yellow that it is hard to tell, but after a while I have learned the distinctive shade of yellow that belongs to hickories. The black gum (nyssa sylvatica) has an incredible range: I have fiery red ones just a few feet away from yellow ones. What influences these colors when they are so close together? It must be genetics.

Speaking of genetics, I also delight in seeing some of the incredible colors of the red maple cultivars planted in parking lots. They are in fine form this year!

I hope you all take the time to enjoy this all too brief show of nature. I think the metro Atlanta area has the potential to rival the north Georgia mountains this year and it's yours for the viewing.

Comments (30)

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    Here is the link to the fall color report by the NFS. They don't seem to update it until it's too late but oh well.

    Yeah it's a good year for the sweetgums I think. Last year they were all yellow around here but there's a stand that I can see from my window that have been deep red for about a month already! That's what I love about sweetgum color is it lasts a long time. I'm also having a much better year with the autumn blaze maple. I usually rag on that because I say the color blazes by too quickly.
    The hickories are amazing. Tulip poplars seem to be running casually late. My green ash clocked out last week but my blue ash is still green. Hmmm. My ginkgo dropped half of it's leaves about 45 days ago now the bottom half is yellow. Strange bird that ginkgo. This is seriously going to impact her fall color grade point average. My sugar maples are still trying to figure out what color they're going to turn this year.

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    I think we're the only ones here that are interested in fall foliage but in case I'm wrong the forest service website was updated yesterday and says now is the time to go leaf peeping. So grab your cameras and go! I have family in town and will try to persuade them but they probably won't want to go. They aren't into that stuff.

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  • Iris GW
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Those are some beautiful pictures of Brasstown Bald on the NFS website, quirky.

    You know a lot of homeowners don't want pines in their yard (some people think they are too ordinary, others are worried about ice storm problems), but seeing those pictures on NFS just remind me that they really are essential to having the full palette of colors during the fall.

    But sometimes other trees stay green long enough to provide the necessary foil. My chalk bark maple is currently providing a nice show and it is backed by a sweet gum that hasn't changed at all. I posted a picture in the tree forum gallery.

    Here is a link that might be useful:

  • buford
    16 years ago

    I was notiing that my pines looked more intensely green today. And I have noticed the serviceberrys, I may add some to my yard. I've got an Autum Blaze or October glory, but it doesn't look that good. Maybe it needs a few more years.

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    Buford if you want to possibly do a trade on a manageable size serviceberry single stem (am. x grandiflora) hang in there because I might decide to rehome mine in the winter. Not that I don't like it just planted in the wrong place.

    El... I think the A. leucoderme could very well be the front yard specimen I have been waiting/looking for. Where can I get one. If I haven't seen one at a nursery, you can bet its a rare find. I have seen A. pennsylvanicum (sp?)..not too impressed with the form/price/quality.

    Well not too surprised my family didn't want to go. I'll try to get away sometime in the week to go for the day. I like to go to Unicoi st. park which is only about 30 mins from here. I submitted photos last year to their site and I remember they were posted but couldn't find them. I am apparently still within the range of white pine as I see them growing here in some places. I have planted some of those- I think they're great for color and if I could find more columnars I would use them. They definitely are not good in ice though. I was out there with a gas stove trying to melt the bent branches ice last december when we had an ice storm. (futile!)

  • Iris GW
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    A friend of mine says that you can get Chalk Bark Maple at Nearly Native nursery in Fayetteville. It's a neat place ... worth the drive.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Here's their web site

  • rosie
    16 years ago

    It sounds like a terrific tree, but Nearly Native's site says it's out of stock. They do have Cherry laurel seedlings available, I'm glad to see, as they're very difficult for those of us too far north to be pulling them up as weeds to find.

    Esh, each morning the changing leaves having doing a major Wow! thing out the east windows as the sun shines through yellow hickories on the hillside. Brilliant yellow is my favorite fall color anyway (I'm originally from aspen country), so I've decided we've just got to plant more--to the south as the oaks are pretty dull right now out there.

  • Iris GW
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Rosie, I saw that it was out of stock, but if I wanted anything they carry, I think I'd call them first to make sure that the web site represented the stock (cause I'd be especially disappointed to ride all that way and then find that they were OUT of something that their site said they had!). They may have gotten more maples or can give you a date for when they will.

    I'm glad you like yellow foliage. I find that many trees turn yellow as a substitute for their "usual" fall color. I dug up two bright yellow sassafras seedlings today ... I'm hoping they will be more orange when they grow up.

    And one of my neighbors has the most glorious yellow maple now ... I think it is a sugar maple that didn't get what it needed to turn orange.

    I was up in Canton today and it was just beautiful in the area called The Bluffs. That area is slated for development, but it is mighty nice now. The dogwoods were especially brilliant, peeking out on the edge of the woods.

    I am going to miss this show when it's over!

  • buford
    16 years ago

    I may take you up on that quirky.

    I used a tennis racket on my loblollies in the ice storm. I started out with my hand but it froze up pretty quick.

  • rosie
    16 years ago

    Esh, thanks very much for posting the link to Nearly Native, which surprisingly turned out to be immediately helpful. I unexpectedly found myself down that way yesterday so called and went by. What lovely and helpful people Jim and Debi are, and what a wonderful nursery it's going to be to visit as their display garden develops. I shot my wad on a bunch of Carolina cherries, though, so had to leave without a chalkbark maple this time, and without our native smokebush--talk about autumn color!

    Quirky, there are several leucoderms in different sizes, if you're interested. Esh was right about checking as there's apparently been too much to do in moving a nursery and starting a new display garden to keep the inventory up to date on the website. There are lots and lots of intriguing plants, including trees, tho, to browse and choose from. An Aster georgiana in full deep purple bloom demanded I take her home, so I did, and it turns out to be literally; this selection was apparently originally found up here in my area. There are actually a number of nurseries in the Fayetteville area, and if you happen to know where Turnipseed is, Nearly Native is just a bit farther down the road.

  • Iris GW
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Rosie, I am glad to hear you had such a positive experience. Although I haven't been there myself, I have heard that the owners are wonderful and passionate about natives. I just have to go some day!

    Glad you fell in love with the Georgia Aster (now called Symphyotrichum georgianum, what a mouthful!). Mine is in full bloom right now and just gorgeous. We found more of it in bloom while researching a rescue site in Canton on Sunday. A lovely color.

    Here's a picture of my Aster. The burgundy tinged foliage is a plus! I should have plenty of seeds this fall if anyone wants some.

    Here is a link that might be useful:

  • GAAlan
    16 years ago

    I have decided October is my favorite month. It is the time we transition from warm to somewhat cold weather, all the great fall color, and for me personally, the scary movies!

    I always enjoy riding around during fall. It is perhaps the best time of year for plants, as almost every one has the ability to glow. Sumac, hickory, black cherry, and poison oak/ivy all seem to blend into background during summer, but come fall, they all possess the ability to stop traffic. I love how certain species always seem to turn the same color while others can sport many colors. Hickories and Poplars are always yellow while Sassafras and Sweetgum can be any color.

    I think about a line from Gomer of the Andy Griffith show to describe fall's magical scenery....."its a picture no artist could draw"......

  • rosie
    16 years ago

    Golly, golly, golly! I am seeing Gomer now, the happy soul, but you know, a third of the people around are too young to remember him and another third weren't even born yet...

    I definitely want to develop my garden to get fairly quiet in July and August while I hide inside and then come to life once again for the autumn. It's so lovely out there these days, including with the overhead sprinkler system running all day as it is now. An aster that blooms deep purple in late October is a major treasure, and I can't wait until next fall when my little Georgie should have some size on her. She's getting a plum spot to show off in.

    Speaking of autumn color, today I'm particularly happy with my baby Acer buergerianum/Trident maple BECAUSE it hasn't a trace of fall color yet. This variety is late to turn and has leaves the fresh light-bright green most others left behind way back in spring, making a wonderful contrast with the yellows and oranges around. Definitely on my gotta-get-more list.

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    Here's what you're missing
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  • nancybea
    16 years ago

    Wow! Gorgeous pictures! When and where did you take them? I'm wondering if it is too late now to go up there (to the mountains).

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    Thanks! I went there yestday and it's a little past peak perhaps but no it's definitely not too late. In the highest elevations there's some bare trees but still plenty to see lower down. And of course the oaks are starting to kick in... most notably northern red and scarlet oaks really put on a show. In the metro area they light up towards mid to late november.

    Where I go: I head to Unicoi state park and surrounding offroad trails. There's a few entrances on SR75 but any of the scenic byways are just as good. I try to find roads where there is a tree canopy over it but that's not too common on paved highways in this state.

  • buford
    16 years ago

    Great pictures. I drive to work each day along Buford Dam road. Now that it's light out when I drive, I've been enjoying the view (better than in the dark and rain as it was last week).

    I've been down here 6 years, but this seems to be the best fall. THe reds on some of the trees are amazing. There are some that appear to be purple they are so dark. I love this time of year.

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    I think this is a better year for color but strangely the trees in my yard and some elsewhere that did good last year are not so great this year and the ones that were so-so last year are much better this year.

  • GAAlan
    16 years ago

    I am having real problems keeping my car on the road lately! I honestly don't recall the colors ever being better than they are this year. What a fabulous time of year!!!!!

  • lindabeth1
    16 years ago

    I am glad to read these comments! DH and I were discussing this when we were up near Canton on an errand;are the leaves so lovely this fall because last year it was VERY dry, then just as the leaves started to change we had some heavy rains which took the ugly,brown stuff off early?Whatever the reason, they are gorgeous this year! Our maple tree (October Glory)is 5 years old this fall, and finally worth its cost!!

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    I might have spoke too soon. That wind we had yesterday really did a number on the fall color situation. The oak have lit up here in N. Gwin. so well have color for a few more weeks.

  • buford
    16 years ago

    So there is hope for my 3 year old Autumn Blaze Maple that looks like hell?

  • stsimonsislandkaren
    16 years ago

    This really is the most beautiful time of year. Wonderful photos, quirky!

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    Buford, In the past I havn't been too fond of Autumn Blaze maples for reasons other than the fall color but this year, the one my builder installed to comply with the tree code requirement and the trees in the front of the sub have absolutely knocked my socks off. The color is always intense but doesn't last long. I joke: That's why they call it autumn blaze, because it "blazes on by". This year I got a good 2+ weeks weeks out of it and the timing was a little better. Mid October so it sort of (but not really) coincided with the other trees. For me it's not so much about color intensity, it's how many leaves stay on the branches, how long it lasts, and when it happens.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    16 years ago

    I think this has been the best fall color I've seen in years.
    Maybe that's why I had to plant 3 maples this year!
    Dogwoods, well, just about every tree is what it should be, in regards to perfect color. I'm surprised because of the drought but even all my camellias have lots of buds.

    I was at Unicoi state park 2 years ago and what madness. The crowds of people were unbeleivable. I'll be in Hiawassee next weekend and I hope everyone stays home.

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    I must have been mistaken about where unicoi s.p. is. I haven't gone there if it's a madhouse. Where I go is around the area that the Appalachian trail intersects with the Unicoi Turnpike. There are a couple entrances to the trails on the unicoi turnpike and I have the lat/long coordinates if anybody wants them. It really is an adventure as the trails could be 20 miles or more and you could easily spend an hour going from one end to the other. You may not even come across another person the whole time. I'd recommend getting a map if there any and going prepared if you go on those trails.
    Plenty to see even with bare deciduous trees, the hemlock and rhododendron habitats are incredible and the aroma alone is worth it.

  • nosyrosie
    16 years ago

    I haven't been on the forum for a while and on reading this I thought, how interesting, I had in fact REALLY been noticing how gorgeous everything is looking. My Everred japanese maple has finally turned a spectacular blood red, but it's hidden. When I was approaching my house the other day, after having strolled along in my car in wonderment, I felt disappointed I have no good fall color in my yard. I have a couple of clethra but they're small; this makes me want to get a fothergilla. I certainly can't fit anymore trees.

    Ellen, many gardening books I have read recommend highly the serviceberry and the sourwood as favorite trees of the author (right off the bat I can tell you one of the writers of the "20-minute gardener" thinks they're both among the best and favorites). Yet, they are hard to find in the landscape, aren't they?

    One disappointment (and I've been looking) -- I have yet to see a spectacular ginko like I did last year.

    Rose

  • Iris GW
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Rose, it has been confirmed. According to an article in the paper (the definitive source of information), this IS one of the best fall color years in Georgia.

    I have been disappointed in my fothergillas. All of them are a disappointing shade of yellow with brown spots. My choices for spectacular fall color would be (in the native shrub category, of course):

    1. Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire) in either 'Henry's Garnet' or 'Little Henry' if you need a dwarf.
    2. Oakleaf hydrangea (cultivars available, but none are known for particular fall color, they're all good, I guess)
    3. Blueberry ... some of the ones I got on rescues and the highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) ones native to my property were screaming shades of red this year.
    4. Chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima' is a cultivar known for good color.

    Other good shrubs are viburnum nudum ('Winterthur' is a cultivar) and viburnum acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum.

    As for serviceberry, it is more available in the trade now thanks to a couple of cultivars ('Autumn Brillance' is one). Even if your local nursery doesn't have it, they can usually order it. Sourwood ... I have never seen it for sale in a nursery.

  • quirkyquercus
    16 years ago

    I've seen sourwood but I can't remember it it was Pike's suwannee or Scottsdale farms. But I know I've seen it.
    It might be difficult to transplant so that could be the reason it's not more common and also could take on a very awkward, not-so-pleasing habit although the photos I've seen online of sourwoods in the landscape are perfectly pyramidal.

    I saw VA sweetspire at Lowes! Couldn't believe it. I have the dwarf variety and it's a great shrub. It grows very fast and the fall color has been great last year and this year. Same with the oakleaf hydrangeas. The color is not brilliant but nice nonetheless. This was a much better year for the autumn brilliance serviceberry that I have but it still wouldn't be a top pick of mine for fall color.

    Rose, if you're running out of space, there is a sugar maple cultivar that I have. The trade name is Apollo but the cultivar is 'Barett Cole' (sp?) The mature size is estimated to be only 8' wide by 25' tall. The color isn't anything less than sugar maple and they have done phenomenally in the heat and drought we had over the summer. I have 3 of them and didn't lose a single leaf.
    They have been described as looking like a child wearing adult's clothing because they have full sized leaves even on young trees. Very dense horizontal branching and my most favorite columnar of all time.

  • rosie
    16 years ago

    Rose, have you seen gingko color yet? I think it turns late. The oaks are doing their thing now up here, but most other leaves have blown off.

    BTW, for anyone who's in the mood for trees, Bannister Creek Nursery in Duluth has a fascinating collection, very different from the usual and reasonably priced. And I think Nearly Native in Fayettevill has sourwood.

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