Nature Notes

Autumn Fruit

By Greg Lecker

Early Saturday morning, I stop at the Minneapolis Farmers Market to purchase a bushel of tomatoes with which to make marinara sauce.  Visiting the Arboretum afterwards, I am reminded that tomatoes and are not the only red fruit ripening in autumn.  A number of other red fruits augment the autumn colors within the gardens.

Steering into the main parking lot, I am struck by the vivid fruit of crabapples, especially when viewed against a crystal clear blue sky.

Pausing in the courtyard in front of Oswald Visitor Center, I find a yellow-green grass that appears almost as colorful as it was during summer:  Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra “All Gold).

My compliments go to the creators of the oversized pumpkin, squash and gourd arrangements in the Great Hall of Oswald Visitor Center.  Concluding a three-month run, its Reedy Gallery presents Artists of Carver County.  Both displays are impressive and inspired!

Walking around the visitor center towards Three Mile Drive, I see that the “berries” of the leafless Barberry mirror the composition of the crabapples.

With Three Mile Drive closed for a special event, I wander more aimlessly than usual and discover new vistas showcasing the landscape architecture of the Arboretum.  Good examples are the switchback trail and granite steps connecting the Magnolia and Shrub Rose collections.

Frost, drought, and the advancing season have robbed the landscape of the many flowers that were blooming a mere week or two ago.  Furthermore, peak fall color has come and gone.  A few trees miserly clutch their colored leaves — the stubborn Norway Maple, for example.  Weeping Willows are just now changing color.

Echoing the patterns and colors of the forest grass described earlier, the Korea Willow (Salix koreensis) in the Willow collection is brilliant, and its leaves remind one of bamboo foliage.

Descending the hillside from the Shrub Rose Collection, I am rewarded with a vantage point that includes Mountain Ash.

Within the Grace Dayton Wildflower Garden, Coral Berry (Symphoricarpus orbiculatus) offers subtle reddish-pink accents in a woodland collection that offers color from early spring through autumn.   Today, garden delights are replaced by hanging Halloween decorations and and costumed characters staffing the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and other vignettes of Ghouls and Goblins in the Garden 2012.  Kudos to Arboretum staff and volunteers responsible for their other-worldly efforts!  On my Saturday morning exploration, I have the opportunity to preview their production.

Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

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