Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Fall in New Hampshire’

Fall has slowly been making its presence known here in this part of New Hampshire and Half Moon Pond in Hancock is one of the best places to see it happen, because it always comes here before anywhere else that I know of. I’m not sure what the trees on the other side of the pond are but they always turn very early. The trees on this side of the pond are mostly maples.

And maples are changing too. I found this one in Swanzey.

Not only are leaves changing, they’re dropping as well.

River grapes (Vitis riparia) have ripened and hang in great bunches from the vines. If they aren’t all eaten they will begin to over-ripen and on warm fall days they make the forest smell just like grape jelly. River grapes are known for their ability to withstand cold and have been known to survive -57 degrees F. That makes them a favorite choice for the rootstock of many well-known grape varieties. We have about 20 native species of wild grape in the U.S. and Native Americans used them all. The fruit is usually too acidic to eat from the vine so they mostly made juice and jelly from them. They were also used to dye baskets a violet gray color.

Virginia creeper vines (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) climb high in the trees to reach as much sunshine as they can. They aren’t noticed for most of the year but when their leaves start to turn they can’t be ignored. Virginia creeper berries are poisonous to humans but many birds and small animals eat them. My mother loved this vine enough to grow it on the side of the house I grew up in. It shaded the porch all summer long.

Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) is another vine that climbs to the top of trees for sunlight but unlike our native vines this one is highly invasive and damages the trees it climbs on. It is the yellow leaved vine in this photo and it is slowly strangling an ash tree.

Black locusts (Robinia pseudoacacia) are trees that often change early. In June these trees are loaded with white, very fragrant blooms that hang down like wisteria blossoms. Black locusts were prized by colonial Americans for their tough, rot resistant wood. In 1610 colonists found black locust trees planted beside Native American dwellings and thought the Natives were using the tree as an ornamental, so they decided to use it that way as well .They also used the wood for ship building, forts and fence posts while the Natives used it to make bows and blow darts. It was once said to be the toughest wood in all the world and was one of the first North American trees exported to Europe.

The invasive burning bushes (Euonymus alatus) along the Ashuelot River will go from green to red, and then will finally become a soft pastel pink to almost white. Right now they’re in their loud orange / red / yellow stage. It’s too bad they’re so invasive because they really are beautiful, but they dominate the understory and create so much shade nothing else can grow.

A few burning bush leaves had already changed to pastel pink. I’ve seen thousands of these shrubs along the river drop their leaves overnight when the weather is cold enough and I’m hoping that doesn’t happen this year so I can show them to you in their pastel pink stage. When hundreds of them are this color it really is a beautiful sight.

I chose a swamp in Swanzey to show you what happens to white pines (Pinus strobus) in the fall. Many evergreens change color in the fall and many lose their needles. The row of pines are the taller trees in the distance in this photo, looking somewhat yellow brown.

These examples of fall color grew right at the edge of the swamp.

Dogwoods also grow in the swamp, and along with blueberries they often make up most of the red you see.

Native little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium) catches the sunlight and glows in what are usually luminous pink ribbons but every now and then you see patches of deep purple, as this example was. This common grass grows in every U.S. state except Nevada and Washington and is beautiful enough to be grown in many gardens. After a frost it often takes on a darker reddish purple hue, but we haven’t had a frost yet.

It’s the way its seed heads capture and reflect sunlight that makes little bluestem glow like it does.

Here is the same view from a different angle. I’ve learned that if you want to have blue river water in your photos you should photograph it with the sun behind you, and now I’m wondering if the same isn’t true with some grasses.

Virgin’s bower seed heads (Clematis virginiana) light up shady spots at this time of year and sometimes you can see hundreds of them together. Virgin’s bower is a native clematis that has small white flowers in late summer. An extract made from the plant is hallucinogenic (and dangerous) and was used by Native Americans to induce dreams. Mixed with other plants like milkweed, it was also used medicinally. It is a very toxic plant that can cause painful sores in the mouth if eaten.

Pokeweed berries (Phytolacca americana) are beautiful when they ripen to their deep purple-black. I love seeing the little purple “flowers” on the back of pokeweed berries. They are actually what’s left of the flowers’ five lobed calyx, but mimic the flower perfectly. People do eat its new shoots in the spring but all parts of this plant are considered toxic, so it’s wise to know exactly what you’re doing if you choose to try it. Native Americans used the plant medicinally and also used the red juice from its berries to decorate their horses. Recently scientists found that the red dye made from the berries can be used to coat solar cells, increasing their efficiency.

Why it is that in a field of thousands of goldenrod plants one or two will turn deep purple while the rest remain green is a question I can’t answer, but that’s often what happens. The plants somehow just decide to stop photosynthesizing earlier than all of their cousins.

We have several different varieties of sumac here and from what I’ve seen all are very colorful in the fall. This is smooth sumac (Rhus glabra.) At least I think so; I didn’t pay real close attention when I took the photo. It could also be shining sumac (Rhus copallinum.)

Most staghorn sumacs (Rhus typhina) are still green but this one had already gone to red. Sumacs are one of our most colorful shrubs in the fall. They can range from lemon yellow to pumpkin orange to tomato red, and anything in between. Once fall starts there is no stopping it and soon people from all over the world will come to enjoy it. I’ll do my best show you all of this incredible beauty that I can.

Why is it that so many of us persist in thinking that autumn is a sad season? Nature has merely fallen asleep, and her dreams must be beautiful if we are to judge by her countenance. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Thanks for coming by.

Read Full Post »

1. Trail

I don’t usually do so many foliage posts but the leaves have really been outstanding this year; better than I’ve seen them for several years running. Now they’re falling quickly though, as this photo of one of my favorite leaf carpeted trails shows, so I thought I’d give you another glimpse of fall in New Hampshire.

2. Pondview

Leaves float on the surface of still water for a time before finally sinking to the bottom.

3. Maple leaf Viburnum

Some of the maple leaf viburnums (Viburnum acerifolium) are going through their orangey pink phase. I’ve never seen leaves turn so many different colors as those on this native shrub do.

4. Maple Leaf

The maples have put on quite a show this year. This one couldn’t seem to make up its mind whether it wanted to be red or yellow.

5. Pond Reflections

Susan of the London Senior blog said she likes to see the reflections of the leaves on water, so I went looking for a few of those scenes. Good ones aren’t as easy to find as one might expect. This one was seen at a local pond.

6. Road View

This is what our roadsides look like. This could be any road anywhere in this region, because they all look like this. It can be hard to concentrate on driving at times.

7. Blueberry

Highbush blueberry bushes (Vaccinium corymbosum) have gone red / maroon / bronze. Blueberries are some of our most colorful shrubs.

8. Stream View

I saw this scene unfolding along a stream as the sun rose on my way to work one day. I thought it would show the difference between foliage colors in sunshine and shade but it really doesn’t.

9. Half Moon Pond Sunrise

This photo and the next show half-moon pond in Hancock on the same day. In the above photo the sun had just come over the hill behind me and was turning every tree golden yellow, no matter if it was a conifer or deciduous.

10. Half Moon Pond at Mid Day

Here is what the view looked like 5 hours later without the sun shining on it.

11. Black Birch

Our birches are famous for their fall yellows. This one is a black birch as told to me by its own twig, which tasted like wintergreen. Black birch was once harvested, shredded and distilled to make oil of wintergreen, and so many were taken that they can be very hard to find now. Most are found on private property rather than in the forest where they were harvested.

12. Asparagus

This is asparagus gone wild. It was growing where asparagus had no business growing and was very colorful compared to the rest of the plants.

13. Cinnamon Fern

I thought I’d show the fern lovers out there another orange cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum.) They’ve been amazingly beautiful this year.

14. Maple

Its leaves shone in the sun like a beacon and this maple drew me to it from quite far away. Sometimes you don’t need an entire landscape of various colors, because the color of a single tree is enough.

15. Ashuelot in Swanzey

This view of the Ashuelot River in Swanzey looks much like the section of river that I played on when I was a boy. I loved exploring it then, and still do. I grew up on its banks and now I’ll most likely grow old on them too, and when all that’s left is a dim remembrance of what this life once was maybe I’ll play here yet again.

16. Royal Fern

I had hoped to show you the bright yellow of royal ferns (Osmunda regalis) but we had a killing freeze before they could turn completely, so here’s a yellow-ish one. These ferns love water and grow beside rivers, streams and ponds.

17. Beaver Brook

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) hangs out over Beaver Brook. At any other time of year you’d barely notice it but now its lemon yellow leaves demand attention.

18. Leaves on Water

Our waters seem to turn very dark in the fall and they stir something inside of me when it happens. I can’t say what or why but there is something about it that tugs at places that don’t often get tugged. Maybe it’s a primeval instinct that isn’t needed any longer; it’s a kind of nagging notion that makes me feel as if I should be doing something, but I can’t remember what. Maybe storing away food for the winter like the chipmunks, I don’t know. In any event, I like to sit for a while and watch all the different colors floating by on the blue-black water.

The fallen leaves in the forest seem to make even the ground glow and burn with light. ~Malcolm Lowry

Thanks for stopping in.

Read Full Post »

1. Pondside View

Many trees have shed their leaves now and the peak foliage time has passed but you can still find spots with some color, like this scene I spotted along a local highway. The maples have been beautiful this year.

 2. Maple Tree

This is another maple, seen beside a different road.

 3. Birch Grove

Many birch trees have lost their leaves. The bigger trees in this grove of gray birch were bare but the smaller saplings still hung onto theirs.

4. Lone Maple Tree

This maple was just unbelievable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another tree so colorful. It was way off across an old pasture at the base of a hill but was lit up like it had a spotlight trained on it. I had to stop and get a photo of it.

5. Foliage

This is an old road that I walk along now and then to find wildflowers. Even though there were no flowers there was still plenty of color.

6. Hillside Foliage

Keene lies in a valley that is surrounded by hills, and this is what they look like at this time of year.

7. Lake View

This was taken at one of our many lakes.

8. Rail Trail

The rail trails cut right through the forest and are lined with beautiful colors all the way along them.

9. Maple Leaved Viburnum

This is a maple leaf viburnum wearing just one or two of its many colors.

10. Maple Leaved Viburnum

This is also a maple leaf viburnum.

11. Maple Leaved Viburnum

And this is another maple leaved viburnum. I don’t know of any other shrub that sports so many different fall colors. They really are beautiful native shrubs that are almost never used in gardens, but I’ve never understood why. I have one in my backyard.

12. Oak Leaves

The leaves are falling quickly now and soon the oaks and beeches will wrap up the foliage season.

13. Dirt Road

The golden yellow of beeches is already the dominant color in some places.

14. Beeches

In this section of forest beeches were the only trees left with any color.

15. Beech Leaves

Even they are starting to turn brown, so the end of the foliage season is fast approaching. It has been beautiful this year and I hate to see it go, but it’s time. We are supposed to see snow flurries today.

Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees. ~Faith Baldwin

Thanks for stopping in.

Read Full Post »

1. Branch River Colors

We seem to be very close to our peak foliage colors here in this part of New Hampshire so I thought I’d show you a few more of my favorite places to see them. The above photo is of the Branch River in Marlborough. What look like bright yellow shrubs along its banks are actually thickets of oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus,), which is a very invasive vine.

 2. Bittersweet Berries

One way oriental bittersweet spreads is by people cutting it to make wreaths for the holidays and then when the holidays are over, tossing the wreath in their compost or taking it to the local landfill. These vines are strong enough to strangle trees to death, just as if a wire was wrapped around them.

 3. Dirt Road

I’ve driven down so many back roads lately that I don’t even remember where this one was, but it doesn’t really matter because at this time of year they all look like this.

4. Ferns

I took a few photos of this spot last summer and really liked the ferns, so I thought I’d go back and see what it looked like. I still like the ferns.

5. Fern Turning

Some ferns fade slowly until they become completely white. Others turn yellow and then brown.

6. Pond View

The morning I went to this pond was very cloudy but then the clouds parted for just a minute or two and lit up these trees. The clouds closed in again and I took photos of cranberries, which is what I went there for in the first place.

7. Forest Path

I love just wandering through the woods at this time of year with no real destination in mind. As the Beatles said; oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go.

8. Maple Leaf Viburnum

Something I find growing along the path in the previous photo is maple leaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium,) which is one of the most beautiful shrubs in the forest, in my opinion.  It changes color from green to orange, pink, purple, red, or a combination of several colors before changing to a pale, almost white, pastel pink before finally falling.

9. Monadnock

One of my favorite views of Mount Monadnock was showing less color than I expected.

10. Monadnock from Perkins Pond

Another favorite view from Perkins Pond was showing virtually no foliage colors. I think the bare trees are birches. They turn first and the howling winds that blow through here strip the leaves from them quickly, so I miss them every year here.

11. Blazing Birches

This is what I was hoping the birches in the previous photo were going to look like.

12. Hillside Colors

It’s not easy to judge the quality of light and what it will do to fall foliage colors in photos. Not only light’s intensity but the direction it is coming from makes a big difference. As I stood at this place looking at the hills clouds were racing by so I was able to shoot the same scene in both full sun and deep shade. In this instance the colors in the photos looked dull and drab in the shade and harsh in full sun. I think that a slight overcast would have helped.

13. North Ashuelot

The upper Ashuelot River in Keene was ablaze with color one afternoon. Being in this leaf tunnel with the sun shining brightly outside of it was amazing.

14. South Ashuelot

The lower  Ashuelot in Swanzey is colorful as well, but the colors have come more slowly here.

15. Fallen Leaves

As if the beauty of the colors wasn’t enough, we also have all of the scents that take us back to childhood; overripe grapes, apple cider, witch hazel and wood smoke. But especially the leaves; nobody who grew up in New England could ever forget the earthy smell of the ankle deep leaves after scuffling through them on their way to school every day.

Why is it that so many of us persist in thinking that autumn is a sad season? Nature has merely fallen asleep, and her dreams must be beautiful if we are to judge by her countenance. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Thanks for stopping in.

Read Full Post »