Nature Notes


Take a virtual tour of early November colors at the Arb.

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!

Salmon and coral-colored leaves of the serviceberry. Photo by Mary Beth Pottratz.

By Mary Beth Pottratz

Salmon and coral-colored leaves of serviceberry flush the landscape with hues so intense they reflect on everything nearby – including our faces.

The Arb’s groundskeepers have taken advantage of the mild weather to install winter lights, probably for the winter light show. I find a lovely blue river of tiny lights sparkling and water-falling along boulders down the hillside creek.

Witch hazel. Photo by Mary Beth Pottratz.

Lemon-yellow witch hazel flowers gleam from leaf axils on woodland shrubs! The tiny petals tremble in the breeze. Read more about our interesting native winter flower at Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel): Minnesota Wildflowers. Check out the amazing Advanced Plant Search on the site, written by a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer as their capstone project.

Staghorn sumac. Photo by Mary Beth Pottratz.

Goldenrod and aster seedheads radiate light that glimmers in the afternoon sun. Naked staghorn sumac branches are coated with soft, fine hairs. Sunbeams drench the hairs with light that makes them appear coated in hoarfrost, but today’s temperature is a balmy 69 degrees Fahrenheit!

Bright leaves in the landscape. Photo by Mary Beth Pottratz.

Here and there the landscape of evergreens, yellow and beige leaves and bare brown branches are spotted with brilliant flame orange or deep reds. They draw our eyes from one bright standout to the next as we take in the panorama.

Dry leaves. Photo by Mary Beth Pottratz.

The woodland floor is blanketed in a dry patchwork of leaves in muted shades of copper, crimson, gold, browns, and khaki. I relish walking through a half-foot depth of dry leaves on the trail, crunching as I go. Birds flit quickly between trees and branches but are noticeably silent. Are they storing up winter rations? Just too early in the day? Or did my leaf-crunching frighten them?

Tamarack. Photo by Mary Beth Pottratz.

Needle-like leaves of tamarack trees are glowing gold-green in the sunlight. Some of these soft leaves have already started falling. Soon the garden beneath will be carpeted in gold. Tamarack is the only coniferous tree that sheds its needles every fall.

I hope you will treat your eyes to the many tones and hues at the Arb soon!

Mary Beth Pottratz is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. Information about the program is available at

1 comment on “Glow

  1. Holly Einess

    Beautiful photos, Mary Beth! You really capture the lovely hues of late fall, as well as the golden light. Can’t wait to get out there myself!

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