…and the leaves, so pretty, so many, vanish… Mary Oliver
When the light begins to change in mid to late August, I get depressed. I have a couple of weeks during which I mourn the end of summer. I won’t see the green leaves or vivid grass for 8 months or so. I admit that I stand and shout at the geese flying away, begging them not to go… (when no one else but the dog is around)!
Once September arrives, I cheer up a bit. As the leaves start their colour changing magic, I remember how beautiful Fall can be. It is a different experience, here in Western Canada, from Autumn in the UK. It is much shorter, for a start. In temperate Britain, the leaves change slowly and they don’t finish falling until November. In Alberta, the leaf changes finish by the end of September, and fall very quickly in early October.
Evergreens are the most prevalent species in Alberta, so there are far fewer deciduous trees than in the UK, and they tend to be Poplars, Larches and Aspens. I miss the Horse Chestnut trees with their spiky green cases enclosing beautiful shiny conkers, and the Sycamore trees releasing their helicopter seeds.
Here, Autumn is more concentrated, more intense. One morning the leaves are still green, the next, the leaves are drooping and yellow is scattered among brush and thickets. In the River Valley in Edmonton, the colours change in a wave until there is a sea of golds and reds. The show doesn’t last long, however, unlike the East Coast, where Fall hues continue through to mid October.
I have not seen the drama and intensity of Autumn on the East Coast of Canada but I would like to go one day. People arrange Fall Foliage Trips, a concept I found quite entertaining until I remembered visits to the Arboretum at Westonbirt! It is a self-described, “Magical tree garden,” with glorious avenues of trees to explore, and we would go in September or October.
Not too far away is the University of Alberta Botanic Garden. I have been in the Summer but never in the Fall. I think this year should be the year to change that. I shall be a tree tourist in Alberta.