The Trees In The Neighborhood

fall colorMy neighborhood is like countless others all across this country.  Rows of homes bisected by a road. It is an older neighborhood, dating back to the 1930’s. The size of the right of way trees speak to that age. The right of way?  The ROW is that strip of land between the sidewalk and the street.  In my neighborhood, the right of way is planted with trees and grass. Yes, you do see a dead tree dead ahead. Large growing shade trees, or street trees, take poorly to having their roots confined between parallel ribbons of concrete. Many of the maples on my street are in serious decline, victims of their own roots that grow round and round in between the bands of concrete, rather than having the opportunity to stretch out, and live large.  Girdling roots will eventually strangle a tree. OK, this horticulture discussion is finished.  The neighborhood trees in full fall color deserve a mention, do they not? I toured my neighborhood this morning, just to see the fall color on the trees.

fall colorIt was not in the cards for me to take a fall color trip to some more rural location.  I work most every day.  My fall color trip through the neighborhood took an hour this morning. During the summer months, the trees are a fairly uniform shade of green. In the fall, every tree represents the fall season individually. A tree tour in my neighborhood is the best in the fall. Each tree turns color on their own schedule.  Some trees go yellow for fall. Others go red.  The sugar maples are the most incredible combination of yellow, peach, orange and red imaginable. This sugar maple, just a block away from home, is beautiful, and fiery.

trees-in-fall-color-16Fall color is a phenomena not completely understood.  Day length is key to triggering fall color.  But temperature, weather and placement all play a roll. Sometimes the science has to take a back seat to the experience. The fall in Michigan is a season like no other.  The air is crisp.  The falling leaves give way from the branches of the trees, and silently waft their way to the ground. The fallen leaves crisp up, and crunch underfoot.  The sun low in the sky ignites the color.

trees-in-fall-color-17A Japanese maple in its summer green grows on to become riveting red in the fall. Good landscape design in my zone takes the fall season color into consideration. I am in favor of a landscape that thoughtfully places evergreen trees in beautiful concert with deciduous trees. Contrast in the landscape makes for a very pretty party. No season is more about contrast than the fall.

trees-in-fall-color-12the sweet gum across the street in full fall color

trees-in-fall-color-13A maple ablaze backed up by a pair of spruce

trees-in-fall-color-14Older Japanese maple decked out for fall trees-in-fall-color-10Japanese maple and burning bush glowing red

trees-in-fall-color-18fall yellow



black gum fall color
Black gum

Venus dogwood in fall colorI planted 4 Venus dogwoods in the right of way in front of my house this summer. They have beautiful fall color right now. Planting dogwoods in the right of way is a gamble. The city may dislike my choice of a ROW tree. We will see. This fall season in Michigan-incredibly beautiful. The neighborhood trees are looking really good right now. The fall gardening season is a moment to treasure. Agreed?











  1. I totally agree! This has been a most spectacular fall in and around Montreal and I’m glad to see the same is true in Michigan!

  2. Astonishing colors. Like a palette by Rembrandt. He loved his rusts, red and brown colors. Yes. I totally agree – no season like Fall.

    What do you think of the use of pear trees? My homes are in Manhattan, NY and in Flint, MI. I see pear trees survive and thrive in polluted, concrete jungles. I am curious what your take on pear trees is, especially in ROW settings.

    Thank you

  3. Ruth Wolery says

    The fall colors this year are outstanding, and I love all of them. You did a great job of taking photos of them and thank you for that.

  4. Wonderful examples of the beauty of fall! In the (BC) Pacific Northwest we are able to grow the same specimen trees, though our natives (big-leaf maple, cottonwood, alder, willow) mostly turn shades of dullish yellow, Pacific dogwood and vine maple the exceptions. I’ve noticed a few Japanese maples that have separate branches of fiery red or brilliant yellow and I’ve wondered if it’s an accidental result of root stock allowed to sprout and mature or an intentional grafting of different cultivars.

  5. Cathy Peterson says

    What beautiful colors! I love this time of year and it seems to be lasting longer this year here in northern Illinois.

  6. David Martin says


  7. So enjoyed this post, Deborah. I have been enjoying our Michigan fall color this year, I think more than previous years, and you expressed its beauty so well. You surely do know your trees!
    Black gum is a favorite; ours turns a deep purply red, but i think started out yellow, can’t remember. Sugar maple is one of the most beautiful of all and native to Michigan, which is another reason I like it. This fall’s weather has been perfect; I think Indian Summer started in September and is still going on! Thank you for sharing your happy thoughts.

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says

    The gardener in me knows it is not good for those big old trees to be planted in the proverbial hell strips but the admirer of beauty loves to see tree lined streets especially when the big old limbs hang over the street and your feel like you are driving through a tunnel. A marvelous sight.

  9. Jennifer Taylor says

    Agreed! Loved the walk around your neighborhood. Glorious trees!

  10. A Girl In Her Garden says

    Every time I see a black gum I tell myself I need one.

    I need one.

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