Monday, October 22, 2018

Fall Foliage and Climate Change

Posted by Richard B. Primack

How beautiful, when a whole tree is like one great scarlet fruit full of ripe juices, every leaf, from lowest limb to topmost spire, all aglow, especially if you look toward the sun! What more remarkable object can there be in the landscape?
Henry David Thoreau in Autumnal Tints

It is one of life’s great pleasures to walk through the streets, parks, and forests of New England on a cool, sunny autumn afternoon with crispy leaves crunching underfoot and brilliant trees and shrubs coloring the landscape. 

A sugar maple provide color in the Newton cemetery

Happily, 2018 is an almost perfect year for autumn color, with just the right mix of moisture and gradually cooling temperatures.  As a result, the yellows, oranges of Norway maples and the oranges and reds of sugar maples are particular striking.  Honey locust trees create bands of lemon yellow along streets.

Honey locust trees with yellow leaves.

As I describe in a recent article in the Newton Tab and in an interview on “The World” on Public Radio International, both a warming climate and later first frosts over the past four decades have delayed the timing of peak fall foliage. The peak used to be from late September to the first week or two of October, but now it is typically mid to late-October. However, the variety of plants growing in our woods and gardens gives us a long season of color from late September to early November as plants take turns changing.  So go and find your favorite spot to enjoy the wonderous displays of fall foliage.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Gardens Beautify Suburban Life

Posted by Richard B. Primack

He who would have nothing to do with thorns must never attempt to gather flowers.
Henry David Thoreau.

Gardens bring delights of jubilant flowers, unusual foliage, and sweet scents to Newton, a suburb of Boston known as the Garden City. Front yard and sidewalk gardens reflect the personal tastes of homeowners and beautify streets and neighborhoods.  In a recent article in the Newton Tab, two contrasting front-yard gardens, one sunny and the other shady are highlighted.

Bodgda Pilat enjoys her canna lilies.

In front of their white stucco house in Newton Center, Bogda and Kaz Pilat have created a striking flower garden in their sunny, small front yard. Notable plants include 8-foot-tall purple-leaved canna lilies topped with huge red flowers.

Mary Morganti in front of her shade garden.

In contrast, Mary Morganti has created a cool shady garden in front of her 1912 house in Newtonville. Covering the ground are shade-tolerant foliage plants, with many textures and variations of green, especially many varieties of hosta, but also clumps of hellebore, maidenhair fern, and mayapple.

Volunteers working in the Newton Center Garden

A second article in the Newton Tab discusses public gardens in places like the Newton Center Garden. These public displays present dazzling masses of color: red and purple petunias, spikes of electric purple blazing stars, and tall yellow, orange and red echinaceas (also known as coneflowers). Volunteers make this and other public gardens happen, and more volunteers are always welcome.