Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond

Native riot

The scrubby banks of the Lily Pond flaunting fall color (Credit: Celia Her City)

The most astonishing display of fall color I saw was by the lily pond right here in the city.  For years now, the people who run the parks have been working to reestablish native plants and habitats there.  The efforts are paying off handsomely.  The seemingly untended banks of the lily pond host native plants whose colors flame luridly as they begin to change.

The understory at the Lily Pond changing color (Credit: Celia Her City)

The colors of this bank astonished me.  The more I looked, the more I saw.  Much of the brilliance came from the sumac, whose rainbow-like fronds sported shades of hot pink, orange, green, and dusty lavender, as well as many colors in between.

Sumac and other native plants around the Lily Pond (Credit: Celia Her City)

This ubiquitous prairie plant, long scorned and excoriated, is making a comeback, as urban gardeners rediscover its great tonal and sculptural beauty.  Besides its amazing palette, the mature tree has a nice shape and velvety maroon “staghorns” on which birds like to feed.

Foliage around the rocky ledges of the Lily Pond (Credit: Celia Her City)

I like the way the staghorns clustered around the rocky ledges, combining with sugar maples and clumps of dusty prairie wildflowers going to seed.

Click on pictures to see them in isolation against a black ground.

Lily Pond, Cool and Hot

The Lily Pond in Autumn (Credit: Celia Her City)

I knew that yesterday would be a special morning for walking.  It had rained the night before and the morning was overcast, reducing the glare yet leaving a slight shine all over.   The parks were quiet; air, still.  Wonderful conditions for appreciating what I’m sure will prove to be one of my most memorable walks.

The lily pond in Lincoln Park was quite deserted, and edges of the pond were almost messy with dying grasses and fallen leaves.  But the surface of the water, with its delicately reflected colors, and the distinctive palette of the colors themselves, was an impressionist’s dream.  I took a ‘cool’ picture of the south end of the pond.

On the north end, it was quite a different story, with flaming maples, green rushes, and an entirely different feel.

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond in autumn (Credit: Celia Her City)