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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Gardening to Distraction: A debate over the colors of fall

  • One of the more memorable arguments between my two younger brothers was over a tree.
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  • One of the more memorable arguments between my two younger brothers was over a tree.
    We were driving through southern Illinois; for what reason I don’t recall.
    I was driving our 1959 tank-like white Rambler station wagon when one of them spotted a tree with vibrant, peach-colored leaves.
    For the next half hour, the discussion with periodic punches and back seat wrestling went back and forth between what kind of tree turned peach in fall – was it a soft, or a hard maple, was it even a maple at all, what other trees turn peach, it could be a fruit tree or maybe it wasn’t a tree at all, it was probably a bush. Not a burning bush, more like a “blushing bush" or a "blooming bush" because it would have to be on fire to be a burning bush….
    For those of you who, like me, can enjoy the beauty of this fall without worrying about what kind of tree it is, hasn’t this fall been surprisingly beautiful?
    Native dogwoods I transplanted many years ago finally turned a stunning scarlet for the first time this year.
    I also allow myself time to enjoy the beauty of red poison ivy leaves before making a list of where they need to be removed next year.
    If you want to add fall color to your garden, here’s a cheat sheet on what trees turn what colors:
    Redbuds morph into yellow, as do river birch, cottonwood, hackberry, hickory, tulip tree and black walnuts. Besides dogwoods, black gum turn scarlet; sassafras turn orange to scarlet, and hawthorn turn a scarlet red. Northern red oaks and scarlet oak are russet to red; pin oak turn bronze or red, and white oak are reddish-purple. Red maples turn from red to yellow; silver maples are yellow, and sugar maples are the lovely peachy colors. So are compact peach trees.
    For the record, there is no such thing as a blushing bush.
    One brother now may be a dean of engineering and the other a world-renown genetic researcher but some things don't change. My older younger brother has always been able to spin up my other younger brother.
    Two years ago, as we were driving up the California coastline, they got into a similar argument over global warming. When I was asked what I thought, I told them in no uncertain terms.
    The southern Illinois tree they argued about all those years ago was definitely a sugar maple.
    Charlotte Ekker Wiggins shares her gardening adventures at http://www.gardeningcharlotte.com. Copyright 2012 used with permission by Gatehouse Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at 4charlottewiggins@gmail.com.
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