Neighborhood Leaf Walk

On the day before Halloween, Judy and I decided to walk around the neighborhood to check out whatever autumn color was close at hand. There are some nice parks and forest preserves that are not too far away but we just didn’t feel like driving.


There are many old shade trees in our area. In terms of mature street trees, I would guess that maples of various kinds are the most common. They do have good color, though I think they are somewhat overused.


Our local forestry department seems to agree, as they are now promoting a greater diversity of street trees. There is an approved list for parkway trees (which residents can choose from, though the trees are officially City property) that excludes both maples and lindens.


Unfortunately, the only maple species I can identify is the Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum), and that’s because we have one in the back garden. I like to think I know my annuals and perennials pretty well, and I’m not too bad on shrubs. When it comes to trees, though, I basically live in ignorance – though Judy is fairly knowledgeable.


The weather this fall is unusually warm. I wonder if there is any connection between this warmth and my sense that the leaf color has been less synchronized than usual. I have absolutely no evidence to back up this observation.

However, to be on the safe side, I propose the creation of a Leaf Color Coordinating Committee (LCCC, to be known among insiders as the “L triple C”). The LCCC would work to schedule autumn colors among the different tree species in order to maximize the viewing pleasure of the general public.


Though I will admit that it can be very dramatic when one single tree bursts into bright color while its neighbors stay basically green.


This house is less than a block from our own. Empty now, until recently it was occupied by an older person who was something of a recluse. I fear it will be torn down and replaced with something bigger and less appealing. Currently it has the look of an old cottage in the woods. The building used to be completely obscured by the overgrown front yard.


OK, I can recognize this tree – some kind of Buckeye (Aesculus).


This is the view on our street facing west.


When all the leaves drop you can see the underlying shape of the mature shade trees. I can’t make up my mind if this one looks like it is dancing or writhing.


Is it just me or can you also see a face in this bark?


An old tree with bark covered in lichens. Judy knew the species of tree (not a maple) but I can’t remember what she said.


The woodpeckers have been busy with this one. You would think so many holes so close together would have the effect of girdling the tree.


That tree cavity would make a nice home for some birds or critters if it were a few feet higher up. This trunk has an interesting wavy shape – as if there were muscles under the bark. I wonder if this is a result of the cavity.


And now to close on a completely different note. We have these neighbors who just LOVE holidays. Any holiday, especially if it can be celebrated with big inflatable characters. Halloween certainly qualifies – but you will see equally impressive displays for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.


These neighbors and I share a common sensibility, I think. We both scorn timid presentations. What I do with plants, they do with inflatable holiday figures. Even so, I confess I’m relieved that they are not immediately next door, and they probably feel the same way about me.


Goodbye for now!

73 Comments on “Neighborhood Leaf Walk”

  1. The deciduous trees make any street look beautiful. We have quite a few deciduous trees in Canberra, and they seem have extra vivid colour during time of drought (or just less than average rain)…although I’m sure this could not be a scientific fact.
    I love the house with the green (mossy?) roof, and hope it doesn’t get knocked down!

  2. Thanks for the photo trip around the ‘hood. I’ve been admiring our trees for days now, but it’s really nice to see how you’ve captured the varied colors. The maples in front of our townhouses along Dodge are Autumn Blaze, prized as much for their fast-growing habit as for their color.

  3. You have some really lovely fall color and big trees right out your front door. The long street view is terrific! The uniform holes look like the work of a sapsucker. Typically it won’t harm the tree. I wrote a post on their feeding holes this past winter (if you’re interested here is the link Your city has put together a nice list of alternative trees for the parkway. Nice to see lots of natives on the list. It should help diversify the wildlife that visits too. Congratulations on your Cubs win last night!

  4. What a delightful post! So nice to talk a walk with you and Judy. That little house is adorable and has so much potential. Maybe someone who appreciates cottage charm will buy it and lovingly restore it. As for bold decorating…bring it on!

  5. Same here—some trees at their peak and others still green. The oaks are so late I think we will still have leaves falling at Christmas, which will be an awful nuisance. Since I live under a dozen behemoths, I’m always eager to get the garden tidy again. Your neighborhood is beautiful. Like you, I hope the little cottage is revived rather than razed.

  6. Lovely tree walk. What a find now that the overgrowth has been removed– the little house with the mossy roof. I hope it has a future. The tree limbs and trunks are so interesting. As for your neighbors with holiday inflatables, one of my dogs was scared silly when she came face to face with a similar Halloween scenario a week ago. We had to turn around and not continue our walk.

  7. I think a lot of our trees are shedding their leaves before they turn this year. Still weirdly hot and dry here. Weather is supposed to get more seasonal now. We will see. I hope that means rain.
    I can certainly see the face in the one tree. I agree about the blow ups. I know people think our garden weird. ha… but do we care…no and as you say I am sure our neighbors with the blow ups don’t care what I think either.

  8. Such nice mature trees, so nice to see when you consider how nervous people seem to be about trees these days. Everything has to be either a red maple or a smaller species “suitable to todays smaller properties”. Live a little I say, and plant something majestic.

  9. Around here everyone had ashes, which of course are all dead now. It is good to have diversity, and I agree that we may as well go for majestic when choosing. This summer I put in a sweet gum, even though I will probably not still be living here to see the fun dangly fruits. By all means, lets get these trees organized, for color! Sign me up 🙂

    • So sad about the ashes. They join the American Elms and Chestnuts in the great arboretum in the sky. Though breeders are hard at work developing resistant varieties that at least come close to the original species. As for sweetgums, they are a scourge to anyone who likes to walk outside in bare feet!

      • Haha, which is me but so worth it. I wish I had room for a hackberry but as it is trees are pretty stuffed into my yard and beginning to strain away from each other in a somewhat embarrassing way. I’m not worried about the ashes. For one thing, they are pretty trashy, and are prolific seeders. I have a fairly tall specimen from the neighbor’s tree before it died. I’m watching to see. My dad’s property had a large ash thriving at the time of his death a year ago~no sign of the beetles. And I see elms in the forest preserve near me.

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