We had our first frost last night—two weeks later than last year. Fall color has been a little muted this year, but still beautiful. In this photo of the backyard the two green trees are ones I planted in the patch of meadow between the lawn and the woods: a paw paw and a sweet gum.
Yesterday we went with WebWalkers and Spiderlings families to Hawk Mountain. Even the fall color there was muted, though the vista is stunning. The hawk watching was good too, and the four o'clock bald eagle was glorious gliding into the sunset.
I had the opportunity recently to cut down a tree at my parents' house that was one I had grown from seed as part of an Arbor Day celebration in 1991. I had scarified the seed (cut a notch in the protective shell) and cold statified it (put it in moist vermiculite in the fridge) for a few months to meet the species' needs for germination. We grew them in paper cups and then the organization I was working for distributed thousands of them to Philadelphia schoolchildren.
In sixteen years the goldenraintree (Kolreuteria paniculata) had grown quickly to 8 inches diameter and fifteen feet in height. But it had also reached for light in a place that had seemed large enough when I planted it but had proven too small. The tree grew at a 45 degree slant and crowded out other plants. (That was not the first or last time I failed to leave enough space for a plant as it grew large—a very common landscaping problem.)
So its time to replant, this time with some native shade-tolerant shrubs that won't grow so fast or so large. With the closure of one growing season it is time to prepare for the next.