Nature Notes: Stalwart Flowers, Foliage

Is this azalea confused? Doesn’t it know it’s fall, not spring?

Just in time for cold autumn weather, we have one vibrant nasturtium flower. Our groundhogs ate our nasturtium in July, so we did not have the pleasure of nasturtium in salad this past summer. But we caught two ground hogs mid-summer and set in them loose in Johnson Park; we also installed two molar pest repellers, which seem to have discouraged more nasturtium-eaters from our garden. So by late August the flowers grew back, but not in time for a bountiful summer crop.

Happy are the sedum in my garden!

Here is information from Michelle, our Nature Notes host, about fall foliage:

The major factor influencing autumn leaf color change is the lack of water. Not a lack of water to the entire tree, but a purposeful weaning of water from each leaf. Lack of water to each leaf causes a very important chemical reaction to stop.

Photosynthesis, or the food-producing combination of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, is eliminated. Chlorophyll must be renewed (by photosynthesis) or be taken in by the tree along with photosynthetic sugar. Thus chlorophyll disappears from the leaves.

The variation in foliage — the shades of red, purple, bronze, yellow and orange — is all about pigment and what type each tree carries.

Carotene (the pigment found in carrots and corn) causes maples, birches, and poplars to turn yellow.

The brilliant reds and oranges in this fall landscape are due to anthocyanins.

Tannins give the oak a distinctively brown color.

The best colors show up when we have cool nights, bright sunny days and low humidity.

My neighbor’s burning bush: I get such a kick out of the name of this plant.

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