Oh what a wonderful day

By Dudley Wooten - PDT Columnist

Here on my back porch at 6:30, it’s a drizzling, rainy day. It’s overcast and not a sky in the clouds. This is forecast for 2 days. Isn’t this as good as it gets for Scioto County after a month of no rain?

We, hopefully, will get several inches of slow rain that will soak in and not run off trees, shrubs, and lawns. This is excellent for what we’ve done all summer. Now we’re officially into fall in my book.

We’ve had the heat and drought. We’ve had the burnt up leaf color of July – September and now that we’ve had the rain to knock those leaves, we can get onto fall color.

Here it is, the second week of October.

We’ve had the Sorghum Festival at Simon’s Farm on Route 73 on the Westside, and the Pawpaw Festival at Snowden Lake in Athens County. The Bob Evans Festival is this coming weekend at Rio Grande.

The rain put all the brown leaves on the ground including the white pine last year’s needles. Now the forest looks anew again (almost).

In the green forest there’s a hint of red maple starting, along with dogwood. You can also see some yellow in with the turning yellow poplar, cherry, and walnut.

The Buckeyes are 4 and 1. The Bengals are 2 and 3, the Falcons are 3 and 3. This is about where it usually is with the beginning of fall color.

It’s a great time for fall color. As we go through fall color, it’s always fun to identify trees from a distance and then walk up to them and check your choices.

As the fall color progresses, we will see the yellow poplar, cherry, redbud, and walnut do the color – or yellow’s step up. You will see an abundance of red in the red maple, sorghum, sumac, dogwood, and pear trees.

Some species are dependent upon pH to determine their fall color and sweet gum is one of them. Some of these trees will have the color of red, some yellow, and some purple.

We don’t need to worry very much about ash fall color now that the emerald ash borer has killed most of them in all 88 counties. The fall color was either yellow or purple in the past – now it’s color me gone.

Maples are of various species and color. Soft (aka – silver – water) maple is a yellow to brown fall color, while red maple is always red in fall color. One that gets a lot of notoriety is sugar (aka – hard) maple. The sugar maples may be yellow or orange.

Sassafras will be orange and hickory will be gold.

At a distance you can narrow down the identity of the tree. You can do this with color, then size, and then location. When you put these factors together, take an ID book with you and approach the tree.

Upon closer inspection, you will see the leaf to be simple, pinnately compound, or palmated compound.

Simple is one leaf. Compound is several leaflets on a stem. Pinnately compound is where the leaflets are arranged oppositely along a stem. Palmately compound would be several leaflets coming out of the end of a stem.

Simple – maple, dogwood, redbud, oak, apple, cherry, pear

Pinnately Compound – walnut, hickory, ash, sumac

Palmately Compound – buckeye

Pinnate means leaves arranged along a stem looking like a pin feather.

Palmate arrangement is several leaves coming out the end of a stem like fingers from the palm of the hand.

Yes, it’s a rainy but wonderful day. It’s been a “cleansing rain.” The brown leaves of drought have washed off the trees and are down already for the “grande finale” spectacle of October.

The Boys of October are jockeying for position in that fall classic of the world series.

The rain has also set the stage for your lawn to green up for a thing of beauty once again. That same area of grass that needed water and was browning out to a brittle off – color dusty situation has now been given new life to enhance your home once again.

I haven’t mowed for two weeks and I’ll give it a week to acclimate, green up and grow. Then I’ll mow. It’s not good to mow brown grass. Mine never really died because it got watered by me. It just stunted.

What we’re talking about here is a cool-season grass. Out tall fescue, bluegrass, and/or perennial rye grass blend here in Southern Ohio is going to thrive at 65 – 85 degrees and rain. It will tolerate 85 – 95 degrees and some rain. We just had a month of 90’s and no rain. The grass slowed down on growth and lost some green.

After a 2 day soaking rain, watch its immediate recovery. In a half week it’ll be ready to mow.

When you look at the grand scheme of things, nature is the key. Don’t beat yourself up and plant in a drought because you will stress the plants and yourself trying to keep them moist. Let Mother Nature put some moisture in the soil and then plant. The temperatures are cooler in fall and that’s less stress on you and the plants also.

After this rain, we will be planting many evergreen trees (7 – 8 foot) and many 16 – 20 foot shade trees. We have the trees and the floatation tire tree dolly for getting the trees across a wet yard. We now have the residual moisture in the soil. We will water as we plant but Mother Nature’s residual moisture in the surrounding soil will keep them moist.

Don’t miss out on the fall fun. Get out amongst the wide array of fall color fun and property enhancement. It isn’t easy being green I guess – I’ve never tried other than lawn and evergreen trees.

With fall I will definitely look at going out with the same colorful enthusiasm that I entered with in spring. I’m going to look for that diversity of plant texture, size, shape, and color in trees, shrubs, and perennials.

It’s a whole new ballgame and it’s how you begin and end.

May the forest be with you. Fall is calling you.

By Dudley Wooten

PDT Columnist

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.