shades of scarlet, saffron, and russet

10.24.20 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum
New London, Connecticut

Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron, and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under the harvest skies.
~ Sharon Kay Penman
(Time & Chance)

a copper and butterscotch harvest

The Connecticut College Arboretum Facebook page invited us over to check out the fall colors in all their glory. We were not disappointed! I had been reluctant to visit because New London was a designated coronavirus “red alert town” but now that Groton is, too, we decided we didn’t have much to lose.

black oak

One very nice feature of an arboretum is that many of the trees have identification tags on them.

fringe tree

In June, the above fringe tree has spectacular white fringe-like blossoms. (Janet may remember them!) To see a picture scroll down to the last few pictures on this post: late spring in the woods.

sweet gum
tulip tree
a maple (no tag)

But autumn leaves have another than their natural history — like autumn sunshine they have merits that concern the rambler, who cares not a fig for their botanical significance — what may be called their sentimental history.
~ Charles Conrad Abbott
(Days Out of Doors)

russet majesty
grove on top of a hill
evidence of the severe drought in the pond
blueberry growing out of glacial erratic in the middle of the pond
glacial erratic framed in saffron
(probably) ruby slippers hydrangea spent blossoms
(probably) ruby slippers hydrangea leaves
thanks to Melissa for help with identification
we got a little bit lost in there
heritage river birch

This might be my favorite tree in the whole arboretum. It is so tall there is no way I could get a picture of all of it. The texture of the bark is a pleasure to behold. The trunk splits in two and the view between them is spectacular. I love its energy. I have a dwarf river birch in my garden. It’s not nearly as tall.

looking up
looking out over the arboretum

We had walked for over an hour and I came home finally feeling satisfied that I hadn’t missed anything this autumn had to offer. πŸ™‚

50 thoughts on “shades of scarlet, saffron, and russet”

  1. Oh my goodness, the colours, the beauty of the leaves, that bark on the tree! Such beauty everywhere. <3
    They tell us here in Australia that being socially distanced outdoors is safe, so I'm sure you'll be fine going on your nature walks. πŸ™‚

    1. Sometimes, between visits, I forget just how beautiful the arboretum is, and for some reason, I cannot remember ever visiting it in autumn. πŸ™‚ I do feel safe outdoors, but worry about getting too close to people who are not wearing their masks in the parking lots. It’s so easy to let one’s guard down.

      1. I love to see your autumn colours because we just don’t have the same trees as you where we live. Most are evergreens, and the deciduous trees simply drop their leaves without the colour spectacle you have. So please, keep sharing while you can. 😊
        Stay safe. xx

        1. I will do my best, Joanne. πŸ™‚ (We’re expecting a few days of rain now which will hopefully put a good dent in the drought.) It’s wonderful how blogging gives us glimpses into colors from other parts of the world — I always enjoy seeing your tropical colors. πŸ’™

    1. Thank you, Frank! I loved the color names Sharon Kay Penman used in her quote — they challenged me to think of a few of my own. πŸ™‚

  2. I love the little scarlet tree growing out of rock in the middle of the pond. Dare to be different! And the texture of the heritage river birch tree appeals to me.

    Nice to experience Fall colors are we seem to have gone straight to Winter in northwest Montana. Snow on the ground, blowing and a wind chill below zero. These pictures have warmed me up.

    1. That little splotch of scarlet in the middle of the pond caught my eye and I was amazed to see the little sapling when I used the telephoto lens. It will be interesting to go back there from time to time, especially after the drought, to see how well it might grow.

      Love all the different kinds of birch bark. Sounds like winter came a bit too early in your neck of the woods!

      1. Yes, Winter came too early but it is what it is. I learned to ‘skin” up Big Mountain, which is in my backyard, last year. Rigorous exercise and exhilarating too. So snow is a blessing and a curse.

        What amazes me about that little scarlet tree is that, in time, it may fracture that massive rock it is growing in. A rock that a person with a sledge hammer could probably not dent, ha. Nature is not to be ignored.

        Thanks for not only posting but also for your generous comments. And by the way, I’m probably distantly related to your husband on my father’s side. I am directly descended from Edward Pridmore whose obituary you feature on your site. I have even visited Abraham Pridmore’s grave (i.e., Edward’s father) in Syston.

        1. What does it mean to “skin” up a mountain? I’ve never heard that expression before. We don’t get enough snow here to get into winter sports, but for years I’ve dreamed of trying snowshoeing.

          Indeed, Nature will not be ignored! I do think I will check on that little tree at least once a year. πŸ™‚

          How wonderful you had the chance to visit Abraham’s grave! Tim’s great-grandmother did, too, perhaps a hundred years ago. Did you meet any other Pridmore cousins while you were in Syston?

          1. Skinning involved skis and ‘skins’ that are like carpets you attach to your skis which allow you to hike up the slopes. And the back of the boot is hinged much like in cross country skiing. Once up the mountain, your remove the skins and ski down. No lift ticket needed. πŸ™‚

            I’ll be interested to see how that beautiful little tree fares. It has the prettiest shape.

            I visited the grave with my ex-wife and my older son, Keenan. It was a wonderful experience for Keenan to make contact with an ancestor. We did not, unfortunately, meet with any Pridmores. My ex-wife barely tolerated my interest in genealogy. She thought it was something only elderly people do.

            Looking forward to your next post!

          2. Wow! Skinning does sound like rigorous and exhilarating exercise! Thanks for describing it to me.

            I wish I could see the details of that little tree better. It occurred to me yesterday that it could possibly be a bush, too. Time will tell.

            Well, it’s been my experience that genealogy becomes interesting to most people only later in life. When I was in my 30s we went to a genealogy convention and saw only one other person in the throngs there who was in my age group! My mother wasn’t interested until she was in her 50s and my cousin suddenly became interested in her 60s. πŸ™‚

  3. Such a lovely post. So worth the trip to see the glorious shades of Autumn. I can see why you ventured everywhere to catch each tree and shrub. Masks outside are definitely necessary – contrary to the opinion of many people. Love the quotes you included in this post.

    1. Thank you, Peggy! This trip was definitely the icing on the cake. I like the meaning of the word “rambler” in the second quote, “a person who enjoys long walks for pleasure in the countryside.” Fits us these days. πŸ™‚ Oh, if only everyone would wear their masks!

  4. Hooray, some beautiful reds! I believe the plant you are wondering about is a hydrangea~the blossoms look like that at the end, when they’ve had some frost. I haven’t been to an arboretum in so long. They are magical places, aren’t they?

    1. I’m learning so much from you, Melissa — thank you! When I looked for pictures of hydrangeas I found some leaves that seem to match, too: Ruby Slippers Hydrangea.

      Arboretums are indeed magical. I started visiting this one with my sister when she started teaching at Connecticut College in 2000. She used to take me exploring the 200 acres of three natural areas, left alone to study natural changes. Her main focus is geology, though, not botany. Tim & I stick to the plant collections when we go, being without our trusted guide into the wild. πŸ™‚

      1. πŸ™‚ Ah, and I’m learning from you as well. I wasn’t familiar with that particular hydrangea. It looks like a beauty.
        I’m pleased to learn about the arboretum dedicating 200 acres to study natural changes. It is important work but not always a popular choice for a piece of land.

        1. Fortunately some people are waking up to the importance of living more in tune with the natural world. I’ve been enjoying a three part documentary on PBS, “The Age of Nature,” which explores “humanity’s relationship with nature and wildlife, as scientists and conservationists from all over the world examine ways we can restore our planet. This documentary series asks whether newfound awareness of nature could bring about a new chapter in the human story.” What I’ve seen so far has started to give me a glimmer of hope.

  5. What a glorious celebration of autumn here, Barbara, thanks for taking us on this walk through the Arboretum. I like that you have a favorite tree, and it’s easy to see why. Unusual bark and great height. Thanks for all the colors and joy.

    1. You’re so very welcome, Jet! (I have a history of falling head over heels in love with certain trees, a hemlock when I was a little girl, and more recently a linden, which I mistook for an elm, and now this river birch. πŸ™‚ )

  6. I miss seeing tulip trees around here. The leaves always fascinated me as a child. The scarlet tree growing out of rock is wonderful. I like spunk and that little tree has it.

    1. I remember being fascinated with a tulip tree when I was a little girl. It was right by my aunt’s driveway. They grow so tall I needed the telephoto lens to get a picture of that beckoning leaf. That IS a spunky little tree growing out of the rock. πŸ™‚

  7. That rough tree bark is gorgeous. Thank you for the walk. I feel like your pictures are extending my autumn since it feels like it has disappeared here.

    1. You’re welcome, Kathy. Your autumn sure did disappear under that thick blanket of snow. We’re supposed to get rain until Friday, when the temperatures will drop and we might get some flurries…

  8. Beautiful photos. Autumn is my favorite seasonβ€”all the colors and textures really shine through. My husband was born in Groton while his father was stationed in New London (if I remember correctly), so it was nice to see photos from that area. I would love to visit, especially this time of year.

    1. Thank you, Cheryl. It seems like autumn is the favorite season of so many of us!

      We have a huge Navy population here at the Home of the Submarine Force. Sailors and their families move in and move out frequently. We can always tell when a submarine is coming home, usually after 6 months at sea, because the families will gather at our beach to watch it coming in before they drive up to the base to greet their husbands and fathers…

        1. Yes, in fact, my son and daughter-in-law had a Greek landlord and landlady for a couple of years and they both worked at the couple’s pizza place for a bit. As I recall, the family had quite a few children.

  9. Surprisingly, this fall seemed more vibrant than any other one since I’ve been in New England. Your poems/verses that you share here match the gloriousness of the trees and their leaves. I’m wondering if the colors seem brighter than ever before because the rest of the world is rather bleak?

    1. I’ve heard other folks from up your way say the same thing about the vibrant colors this year. They weren’t so vibrant down here, but good enough to bring a measure of joy. And walking in the woods they made all the right crackling crunching noises under my footsteps, enough to fill my heart with delight. πŸ™‚

  10. The colors are still gorgeous in your neck of the woods Barbara … I did not know a lot of the leaves so I am glad you told us what they were … the birch with the unusual bark, I thought at first was a shagbark hickory so my knowledge of trees is not that good it appears. I am going to comment on your embedded post now.

      1. I just visited that link – I enjoyed the post Barbara … my kind of place to go. I mentioned confusing an aspen with a birth tree as they both have white bark. I am not skilled in telling trees apart … I once found what turned out to be a horse chestnut tree with the horse chestnuts on it and put it in a blog post and asked if anyone knew what tree it was?

          1. Thank you for the link Barbara – I enjoyed that post very much. That weather incident was in 2011 and here we are in 2020 and the weather is more erratic than ever. Today alone with the earthquakes in three different locations. Everything is scary these days … 2020 is one for the books. Thank you for sharing this link and your father.

          2. I’m happy you enjoyed the chestnut tree link. Seems so long ago and so far away, a whole other universe… 2020 has definitely been a nightmare in so many ways, and it looks like there is probably much more to come. Sigh…

  11. Beautiful words, beautiful images.

    RE: “designated coronavirus ‘red alert town’ but now that Groton is, too, we decided we didn’t have much to lose.” — I can relate to this sentiment having recently performed an embarrassing amount of research before making the decision to drive one state over and take a look at their woods. Who would have ever thought it would come to this?

    1. Thank you! This whole pandemic blindsided all of us and we’re all still fumbling around trying to figure out what we should and shouldn’t be doing. We live near the Rhode Island border. If we go to that state and stay less than 24 hours we can return with quarantining. (my favorite beach/wildlife sanctuary is just over the state line) Sigh…

    1. Thank you, Donna! That was my favorite, too. I hope I can remember the same spot and get another picture in a different season.

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