Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fall Color on Franklin Street and the UNC campus

We took a day trip to Chapel Hill on Sunday. A sunny day and beautiful to look at, but cold (mid
30's) and blustery. I was hoping against hope there was some fall color left and luckily, there was!

We went to lunch at Spanky's on the corner of Rosemary and Columbia, where we were seated on the second floor. In October we were there prior to a rare Thursday football game and everything was packed, including the Top of the Hill restaurant across the street. Top of the Hill has an upper level outdoor porch that is lined with tables at a slightly higher level than the second floor of Spanky's. On Sunday the porch was empty and lined with plastic, because no one in their right mind would have wanted to dine outside on such a day! The wind was frigid. Yet I couldn't believe the number of people I saw on the street in shorts or skirts with no stockings. The runners I could semi-understand (although not really) but the rest not at all.

It was so cold that when we got back to the car at the Planetarium I had second thoughts about walking around. Gene found an extra sweater and I put that under my coat and put on the toboggan I had brought. Gloves too. With that and fast walking the cold was just bearable.

At first glance I thought these Chinese Pistache on Franklin Street were White Ash trees, because of the purplish tinge, but the trees are too small and the leaves smaller as well. White Ash wouldn't make a good street tree anyway, they can get big and are prone to many problems, including leaf spot, canker, dieback, and borers. That said, I still want one.

Isn't the color gorgeous?

Bald Cypress get big too but this one has made a fine street tree. I don't know how these trees are getting the nutrients they need to grow as well as they have, but obviously they are.

Several of the street flower boxes were planted with Virginia sweetspire. This one had particularly good color.

We headed onto campus and basically went from one spot of color to another. I was strongly reminded of a quote by Albert Camus that I have seen on several blogs in the fall: "Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." It's true! There were several treasures on campus, even this late in the year.

Not to mention real flowers. Pink camellias were planted next to Vance or Pettigrew Hall.

Yellow grape vines climbing over a wall next to Hyde Hall.

This vivid Japanese maple beckoned from a distance.

Exactly the same color as the red hot embers of a fire.

Red maple

The oaks were still colorful, ranging from russet brown to gold to orange to red. I've gotten rusty with IDing oaks. Some are easy to identify and others are not easy to tell apart at all. The red oaks can be particularly difficult to identify. Pin oak leaves have 5-7 lobes with sinuses that go almost to the center of the leaf, forming a "U" shape, and axillary tufts of hair on the underside (looks like a tiny spiderweb between the mid-vein and branching veins). Scarlet oaks have 7 bristle-tipped lobes, usually smooth underneath, with C-shaped sinuses, although a scarlet oak with good fall color is unmistakable, as you can imagine. (I want one of those too.) Sounds straightforward, right? Yet Dirr writes that buds are probably the only reliable way to tell a Shumard from a pin or scarlet oak.
All I can say with any certainty is that this is a leaf from some sort of red oak.

Signs help.

A picture from Gardening with Native Plants of the South shows a picture of Shumard Oak with blazing red foliage, but a plantsman in Virginia told me that the only time he saw Shumards turn bright red was after Floyd. Usually Shumards turn anywhere from bronzy yellow to chesnut red.

Oak near the old well.

There was color from fruit as well as from fall leaves.

I loved the shape and fruit set of this American Holly.

A Foster's holly in front of Howell Hall.

These hydrangeas looked a little sad in the cold, but still lovely against this old brick.

I think this cherry must be 'Okame', based on the fall color and reddish-brown bark. Plus, it's a commonly planted cherry. This tree looks birch-like with its fine branching and yellow leaves

but the bark screams Prunus.

The fothergilla was another attention grabber. There are several in front of Alumni Hall. One of the most beautiful fall foliage plants ever.

Next: Fall color in the Coker Arboretum and Gimghoul Road neighborhood.

Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. What a fantastic fall tree tour -- and how nice it is for me to see the colors there while everything up here has already turned brown and leafless. Those are some lovely urban plantings there, and you did a great job with ID! Oaks are impossible, they hybridize among themselves and even within a specific type the leaves are variable. Enjoy your fall spectacle for a while longer!

    1. Thank you Laurrie. I'm glad you said flat out that oaks are impossible. I agree! lol There's an oak tree here that even with trait checklists I was only tentatively able to ID as cherrybark oak. And the hybridization issue throws another wrench into the works.

  2. Wow, what an extra-ordinary beautiful fall colours over there. Love the quote of Albert Camus, it is so true.

  3. Wonderful Fall pictures! I love trees and their gorgeous foliage in the Fall. Hope you have had a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

  4. Drzewo z drugiego zdjęcie ma wiele barw na sobie, zielony, złoty, czerwony i to pieknie wygląda. Pozdrawiam.
    Tree of the second image has a lot of colors on a green, gold, red, and it looks beautifully. Yours.

  5. The Chapel Hill campus has some of the most beautiful trees, I think. Maybe because they are so old. I too have noticed that college students always seem to wear shorts or short skirts with no leggings, even when it's freezing cold. Either they are impervious to the weather because they are young, or they like the way they look and don't care.

  6. Love the combo of Fothergilla and is that Cast Iron plant? Very pretty! Franklin Street is always so beautiful. Looking forward to the next installment of pictures.

  7. I love it when cities and institutions go beyond what is required when it comes to landscaping. It really changes the character of an area and just invites people in.


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