Residential Yard

The Scent of Fall

b.story 12.11.10 FallScent_Katsura_leaf1

The house is filled with the scent of burbling beef stew (my personal favorite is Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon) and roasting squash.   Outside, the day is crisp and cold and our breath hangs in the air for just a minute before wisping away.  The freshness of the morning gives way to the musk of rotting leaves and moist soil.  I work, pulling out those vegetables that provided us with a bountiful summer.  I mourn the passing of one season, but am looking forward to another that contains some of my favorite fruits and vegetables… anything pumpkin, sauteed kale, sweet, succulent pears, bitter brussels sprouts and of course roasted squash.

Fall is full of smelly delights!  One of my favorites is found surrounding the Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).  From far away, the pyramidal tree glows with an apricot hue.  Up close, the perky, heart-shaped, yellow leaves stand like little soldiers along the branch.  But my favorite thing about the tree occurs when a slight wind ruffles those glowing, perky leaves.  Taking a deep breath I am reminded of my brothers soft, decadent caramels, or the raucous cacophony of a ballgame and the cotton candy that comes with it.  The smell conjurs up memories of fun times shared with friends and family.  Pick a handful of dry leaves from the Katsura tree, crush them in your hand and take a deep breath.   The scent coming off the leaves will be reminiscent of cotton candy or caramel and perhaps a sweet memory of your own will be reawakened.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum – Katsura Tree

A deciduous tree that will grow 25-40’ in height and a 20-30’ spread.  The tree’s form is lovely with its pyramidal shape and horizontally layered branching structure.  In my neighborhood, the tree is a common street tree (which significantly adds to the pleasure of my neighborhood walks!).  It prefers full sun, but part shade is ok, and it prefers regular water, but dry is ok too.  The Katsura tree is an attractive background shade tree during the summer months.  But it is during the fall when this tree truly shines!


b.story 12.04.26 Patience Tulip Magnolia
They tell me that with patience comes rewards.  Be they to your spirit, your treasure or your community.  Or to your garden.  However, I don’t tend to be the patient sort.  When I work I want to see progress made.  If it’s not immediate then I would like it to be at least incremental.  At the…

Winter Blooms

b.story 12.01.30 Witch Hazel Tree
Those of us from the Pacific NW seem to be obsessed with our weather.  Furthermore, we are a fickle bunch.  Perhaps it is similar where you live?  Last year, after an unusually wet summer, we spent much of our winter complaining about the incessant grey drizzle.  This year it was different.  A playground chat actually…

Flowers Big and Small

b.story 11.06.10 rhododendron
I love plants. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by that statement. I love their expression of the seasons. I love how they can repair our environment. The rainbow of flowers I can plant in my garden gives me endless amounts of joy. And I love that my plants can surprise me. Throughout…

Falling Leaves

b.story 10.11.17 fall leaves
My kids and I were heading to school the other day amidst a flurry of falling leaves.  Our property is a small city lot, but it is surrounded by six, giant, 80-year-old silver maples.  Their branches reach high into the sky, providing a shady canopy to our yard and playground to the woodpeckers, raccoon and…