The Occasional Gardener: Ideas + Aesthetics + Inspiration from the Garden

Autumn Leaves, Sort of




Now that I am living in an endless tropical summer I realize how much an ever changing temperate environment drives you forward into new cycles of activity or states of mind.  The longing for warm summer days, the thrill of fall in New York City when everyone is back from their summer sojourns, the inertia of winter and for gardeners the rush of a new growing season.

I have come to the realisation however that the botanical changes that define each season from bud to flower and fruit and then bare branches is something that happens here too - just not in synchronicity. Take the visual spectacle of autumn leaves happening now in northern temperate countries that will soon crescendo into a glorious show of color . The science of why that is happening, is happening here too except for slightly different reasons and in an unorchestrated way.

We have here, leaves going through the same end of life process, yellowing and turning brown as well as an anthocyanin fueled range of oranges and red that happen as a biological strategy to protect new emerging leaves from the hot tropical sun. So we are seeing this palette of colors thoughout the year, not in a huge burst  but in a continual cycle that layers into all the other typically green leaf colors.

Pictured right is one I see all the time, young red leaves of the Wild Cinammon, Cinnamomum Iners that is almost weed like if given a chance. On the left, a tree that I see everyday walking the dogs and have yet to identify is almost constantly in this state of autumnal color. Another, that has become endemic in our landscape, since it is a favorite of local municipal landscapers and private homes as a easy to grow hedge, Syzygium Myrtifolium. Almost everywhere we see the burnished oranges and reds of its new growth.

Yesterday, when I took these photos in my neighborhood, it was late afternoon just after a heavy shower. I enjoy a slight microclimate here being slightly elevated and in close proximity to a  small forest, a heavy shower at a cooler time of day will elicit a slight mist. The mist, occasional piles of leaf fall, short bursts of autumn leaf color as described above and and I couldn't help but be transported back to the memory of autumn walks in New York City and Westchester. Minus of course the chill and the slight dread about where this colorful autumn road will eventually lead.

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