Friday, October 30, 2009

How Quickly We Forget

The links at the bottom of this post, below the pictures, are the most important so far.

These photos were mostly taken Thursday, October 29. I wanted to try to capture the last glimpses of foliage before it is gone for the season.

We still haven't had frost, or enough of one to impact the delicate cosmos. It looks a bit tattered, but a frost would have made it disappear.

The same is true for nasturtium, and the tomato, which is actually still flowering.

Here is a lichen that looks like a bit like a flower. There will be much more on this, because they are spreading at mind-boggling velocity.

They are creeping onto the inner branches of evergreens.

But while we have them, the rest of this post will be about leaves.

It's possible to find some that are breathtakingly beautiful.

But with most, it is a terrible beauty.

Leaves of all varieties show the characteristic speckling of stomata damage.

And there are myriad samples of this odd upside-down coloration, that goes along with a late, lanky growth spurt. I think, it's because the earlier, lower foliage has been exposed for longer and to more intense atmospheric toxins, as in the rose leaves.

The colors of redbud leaves range from strange to dreadful.

Even the decorative annuals show the upside down effect.

Oak leaves always turn russet, or brown.

But falling in clumps to the ground with this mottled aspect is something I've never seen before.

The maple leaves have a range of colors.

Some are still green, but singed and spotted.

While others are more dramatic.

Frankly I don't see how anyone can reconcile the leaves that are still green with those that are changing color, while all of them have brown edges and spots. Why? They should be green turning to yellow, or red, or orange. I guess most people just don't LOOK.

The lilac leaves are delicately hued, simultaneously lovely and scary.

Below is my katsura tree as it appeared 10 days ago, on October 20.

The leaves were still basically green

In ten days they all turned yellow and fell off.

Just a few remain.

This hydrangea is another example of the upside down effect. Many species of shrub and tree have similar growth and coloration patterns.

The deep pigmentation of this hydrangea is just bizarre.

Below are hickory leaves in varying degrees of brown.

The leaves above and below fill me with nostalgia.

The clematis above also has the upside down effect.

I took a picture of this catalpa because it is small enough that I could get a closeup of the leaf. But its condition is typical of catalpas everywhere now. They uniformly look disgustingly decayed, with morbid coloring.

Here's the upside down boxwood. Fresh new growth above yellowing older leaves that should be evergreen.

The barberry leaves are stippled - but its an invasive, so who cares? Actually, the berries made a nice condiment.

Here's the upside down pattern as interpreted by an azalea.

Wild blackberry leaves appear to be quite susceptible to poisonous emissions, as are all fruiting trees - but then, nothing I can find is immune.

Following are beech leaves and trees.

At the end of the day, in sunset, these leaves glowed in the most gorgeous fashion. This long row of venerable maples must have been planted long ago. There isn't a one that hasn't lost large branches and they all have gaping holes in their trunks.

One obtuse professional forester once told me the trees are dying because they are old. Aside from the fact that young trees are dying at the same clip, trees like these are genetically programed to live for centuries.

I have been putting off looking for pictures of foliage from years past, for fear of what I would find. Finally today I had some time, and I forced myself to search for albums on the internet. I'm going to link to the very first two that I found that are geographically close to Wit's End, I cannot bear to look for anymore right now. It is an excruciating exercise.

I have contacted both photographers in the hopes they will give me permission to use their work, because I would like to visit the same sites where they took their pictures and do a side by side comparison. I think that should constitute pretty compelling evidence of serious decline.

But in the meanwhile, it is worth looking at them just for general reference. The difference between past years and now is no less than stunning.

This album is from 2004, in Philadelphia. It was uploaded November 30, but I have to find out when the shots were actually taken.

Whereas this album clearly states the pictures were taken the day before Thanksgiving, in 2007, in New Jersey.

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