Nature Notes

Harvesting Autumn’s Colors

Along the trail on the south side of the pond, I find sneezeweed AND black-eyed Susan blooming. 

Visiting the Arboretum: All members and visitors need to make a reservation in advance of their visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. We hope to see you soon!

By Greg Lecker

Peak autumn color has arrived (and likely passed) in the Twin Cities. White oak leaves have turned red to red-orange. Sugar maple leaves turned yellow-orange (and likely orange in another year).  

White Oak

Sugar Maples

Nearer to the pond are speckled alder understory shrubs. The woody plant tolerates wet soils. These speckled alder shrubs are still green. The black walnut tree standing near and stretching over the trail has bare branches. Moving onto the bog boardwalk, I notice large stands of red-twig dogwood. Some leaves are green; others are pink or mottled pink and green. Small bunches of white berry-like fruit sit atop some plant stems. All stems are brilliant red.

Red-Twig Dogwood

Spreading over the boardwalk and Green Heron Pond are low layered clouds accentuated by a low morning sun.

Morning Clouds

These layered clouds could be stratocumulus OR altocumulus clouds.  However, as I judge them to be low instead of high in the sky, I judge them to be stratocumulus. The “alto-“ in “altocumulus” means “high”.  Furthermore, after I’ve researched stratocumulus, I find that they seldom bring rain – and that is the forecast.

Stepping off the boardwalk, I notice the Farm Trail signs. Though I don’t have time today to hike to the farm – and the barn, I did see the barn later in my visit.  Read on to learn more. Along the trail on the south side of the pond, I find sneezeweed AND black-eyed Susan blooming. 

Black-eyed Susans

Though some of the blooms look like they were slightly nipped by Saturday morning’s frost, most of the flowers AND the foliage are fresh as a daisy.  In fact, all of the plants in this immediate area are green:  grasses, the distant duckweed floating on Green Heron Pond, and the speckled alder shrub layer encircling the pond.

Most of the tamarack needles on these deciduous conifers in the bog have changed from green to yellow.  On the opposite side of the pond, near the Ordway Shelter, tamarack needles are golden yellow. This accentuates the small cones of this tree.  


To continue my story of the Arboretum’s Red Barn, I’ll describe what I found in the visitor center’s Reedy Gallery. The exhibit of Painter Teo Nguyen, “A Reflection on Being” showcases stunning large-scale photorealistic paintings, some painted of landscape subjects fond in the Arboretum landscape. There is an impressive portrait of the Red Barn. His exhibit continues through November 29.

 Greg Lecker is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

2 comments on “Harvesting Autumn’s Colors

  1. Autumn’s colours are beautiful. Thank you 😊

  2. Pingback: Arb Links, vol. 53 | News from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

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