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 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.
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.
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.