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By Sydney Chandler
A good story has cliff hangers: those gripping ends of chapters that make setting aside a book, TV show, or movie impossible. Transitioning seasons feels a bit like this. Every day, there are changes happening in the world, some unknowns that will blow in with the wind, and some remnants of last season hang on to the past. The Arboretum has some vibrant characters that demonstrate this Cliff Hanger transition to fall.
Even as the weather cools, the Park Princess Dahlia is still beaming with vibrant pink. The outpouring of energy from these wild petals is the excitement of getting to spend just one more unexpected sunny, warm day outside without a jacket. What will this flower look like as the fall progresses? Will we watch its petals fade and fall to the leaf piles below? Or will it hang on until the first snow?
The Allium flower has already made a dramatic transition to its autumn disguise. Many small black seeds hang delicately to the plant, and some have already dropped to the ground. A small shift in the wind or a jostle from a frantic squirrel could dislodge more seeds at any moment. Visiting just one day later could mean returning to a completely different looking flower. When will that last seed fall? And how will these seeds fare in future seasons?
Thoughts of the future are also evident in the growth patterns of the greenhouse succulents. This succulent grows miniature leaves off each leaf, and again off of those. These tiny leaves appear fragile and in need of protection. How will they fare in the cooler days ahead? There is an excitement in the growth of this plant: the small leaves stem from the bigger ones as if the plant is growing a literal family tree. What will this well-connected succulent family accomplish in the coming seasons? And just how big can its network of nourishment become?
Sydney Chandler Is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer