Missouri Botanical Garden celebrates trees and fall colors in an inconsistent year

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ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Botanical Garden is celebrating Tree Week, a campaign aimed at educating visitors on the garden’s tree collection.

The bright red, yellow, and orange fall leaf colors make the cooler temperatures and shorter days worth it. But this year, some trees are putting on a show while others seem to have stage fright.  You can blame the weather for the inconsistent colors.

“We really didn’t get much rain in September and also in October we had weeks without rain. And so, by the onset of fall color, came, to compensate or the lack of water, our trees began dropping their leaves kind of prematurely,” said Daria McKelvey, supervisor of Garden’s Center for Home Gardening.

What the dry weather did not affect, the wind did.

“Those leaves that were already getting ready to fall off because of the dryness just got blown off. For example, our bottlebrush buckeye, they’re a very golden color,” McKelvey said. “They’re pretty much at peak because you can look into the shrubs and you can see leaves are already defoliated.”

Now that we have had some rain, there is some hope for late season color.

“The bald cypress are only about roughly ten percent in terms of color but those will be getting some color in the next two weeks,” McKelvey said. “The gingkoes are still slow as well, but I’m starting to see a little tinge of yellow.”

If you aren’t seeing great leaf color, the trees still have other beauty to offer.

“So our crabapples in the bulb garden and also the ilex, which is the hollies, if you look around, there are a lot of them producing berries. So that adds some nice fall and winter interest.”

With more than one thousand species, the Botanical Garden’s tree collection is one of the most diverse in the entire Midwest. That’s why they have set aside a special week to highlight them.

“To focus on trees and how important they are. And just all the unique species that not only we have in the Garden, but that grow in Missouri,” McKelvey said.

For Tree Week, the Garden is offering daily guided and self-guided tours exploring the tree collection. There are also special activities just for kids. For complete information visit: www.mobot.org/treeweek.

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