I can picture it now. “Ma’am, please step out the car.” I gingerly place my camera and brilliant leaf samples on the passenger seat and do as I’m told. “What seems to be problem, Officer?” I ask. “Not only are you having trouble staying within your lane, you’ve been sitting idle at this green light for almost two full cycles.” he explains.
“Have you been drinking?”
“Were you texting?”
I try blaming my distractions on the captivating nature of the florescent sugar maple in the distance, but he doesn’t buy it. He issues me a warning. And I issue him my most prized specimen of the day: a vibrantly orange-colored, mitten-shaped sassafras leaf.
Noteworthy Trees and Shrubs for Fall Color
Asking a nature lover to choose their favorite tree or shrub for fall color is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child: It changes daily, if not hourly. Oh, alright. It’s impossible. Nevertheless, I’ve enlisted my pals in our area’s landscaping, gardening and nursery industries for their help in compiling a list of top-ten favorites. If your top pick didn’t make our list, please give your beloved plant a shout-out in the comments below.
Top Ten Trees: (Considered “no-brainers,” many Southern standards, like the dogwood and crape myrtle, didn’t make anyone’s top ten. It certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t treasured.)
Ginkgo biloba - ginkgo
Acer palmatum cultivars - Japanese maple
Acer saccharum - sugar maple
Top Ten Shrubs:
Hydrangea quercifolia - oakleaf hydrangea
Fall foliage watching in Athens
If shorter, sunny days, cool nights and lead to color, we Athenians may be in for a real treat this year. Besides our neighborhoods, UGA’s campus offers a seriously diverse collection of shrubs and trees that is bound to be memorable this fall. Why not take their Arboretum Walking Tour of Trees? Or, pack a lunch, grab a blanket and spend the afternoon at The Georgia State Botanical Gardens. While you’re there, become a member. It’s easy and important. And for goodness’ sake, enjoy foliage watching responsibly. Ditch the car and take to foot.
This story appeared first in an earlier Athens Patch edition.