I was supposed to attend an all day conference, but the weather was so beautiful, I decided to play hookey instead and search for fall color. So I headed west on M-43 from Kalamazoo towards Lake Michigan. My first stop was at the Butterfly/Hummingbird garden at the Branch Library. Even though we had no frost in town, there must have been a little icing in the country because the morning glories and zinnias were finished. The asters, mums and sedum were still blooming and my personal favorite, Chocolate Joe-Pye Weed, ( Eupatorium rugosum ) looked great.
This bushy plant has thrived where the regular Joe-Pye Weed languished. It seems to do somewhat better during the hot, dry parts of summer. The leaves are a sort of purplish-green which makes a nice contrast to the small, fluffy white flowers that are in bloom during the September-October months.
While I was there, I took a few photos of the trees. Right now, most of the fall color comes from the sumac, sassafras and maple trees. The sassafras at the library were curiously multi colored. One tree had green leaves at the bottom, yellow and orange at the middle section and red leaves at the top. Another tree was half n half, the bottom being yellow while the top red. Why does this happen? It’s a mystery to me.
Then there was the sumac! The red practically glowed. I kept trying to capture the iridescent quality on camera but failed.
It was time to hit the road and head on out to the lake. The drive was beautiful, though the color should be better next weekend. I’ll have to take another jaunt then.
I finally reached the beach and was amazed. You’d never guess it was mid-October. There were sunbathers on the sand, swimmers in the water and boaters on the lake. The summer crowds were gone, but still, usually this time of year means deserted beaches and a few bundled up fisherman on the pier.
At this point, I decided to go from the warm beach to the cool woods. I figured that if I drove north and east, I should hit the county road leading to my favorite hiking trails. It’s almost impossible to get totally lost in the midwest because major roads are laid out in north-south, east-west grids. Different counties may use different names for these roads, but still, with a little bit of deductive reasoning, it’s possible to figure out where a person is without having to check a map. So, after more driving, I ended up where I needed to be.
I wanted to visit two spots where the view would show off the autumn colors best. I started out through the woods. To get to the first site I had to climb the hills by following the Raptors Ridge Trail. Luckily, the steepest areas had steps. Once I got to the platform at the top I was able to admire the view and eat a late lunch. It was beautiful. At this point, I could see across the whole valley. A great view!
From there I hiked back down into the woods and along the stream bed towards the Kalamazoo River. From a small rill, to a stream then through a tunnel under the railroad tracks, and onto the River Walk trail. I walked through a heavily wooded section that was probably flooded when we had the heavy rains a few weeks ago. The dark woods brightened as I got closer to the river and the trees changed, glowing yellow as the sun shone through. Then I came to the river.
Wow! There is nothing like Michigan in the fall.
I discovered the Garden Blogger Fall Color Project at http://thehomegarden.blogspot.com/ sponsored by Dave’s Home Garden blog. Though I do have some other photos in other posts, most are concentrated in this posting.