Union in the News for October 6, 2005
Union a great spot for fall foliage
By Jeff Wilkin - The Daily Gazette
Colors will come, and people will go. Fans of natural golds and oranges will drive through the Adirondacks and visit Vermont for the chance to see nature in autumn glory. For many, the hunt for red October is a tradition, a time to celebrate the new season. While fine colors can be located in Saratoga and other area counties, leafy beauty can also be seen in the state's smallest county - Schenectady.
That means people can conserve gasoline, save time and still see magnificent views of fall. Nature experts, and others who watch maples and birches around town, have several suggestions. But people will have to wait a few more days. The warm days that came with late summer - and continue into early fall - have slowed down the changing scene. Dry weather has also hindered progress.
"It is behind," environmental instructor Ruth Schottman said of the Capital Region's color change. "A lot of the leaves are dropping already; they look very dry. I don't know if we had too long a dry spell for a while. . . . We really don't know."
Dry conditions will force trees into dormant states. Fred Breglia, head of horticulture and operations at the George Landis Arboretum in Esperance, has seen weeds wilting. "It's been a tough year around the region, around the state, and it's been fairly dry recently," he said. The state Department of Economic Development's most recent fall foliage report said leaves will be nearpeak this weekend in the Adirondacks.
In the Capital Region, up to 35 percent color change will be on view by Saturday in the Thacher Park area of Voorheesville. The town of Colonie expects about 10 percent change; Grafton Lakes State Park in Grafton, Rensselaer County, will turn about 15 percent of its palate. People with patience will be rewarded. Cold nights and sunny days have made a difference in the wood.
SPLASHES AT THE LAKE
Betsy Henry, president of Re-Tree Schenectady, said Central Park has new color this autumn, and it's just about ready for its October debut. She said Re-Tree Schenectady recently planted six new maple trees near Iroquois Lake - along the lake's far side, across from the park's administration building. She expects splashes of color near the water. Henry understands why people make efforts to see the exposures.
"It's just so exotic," she said. "We're used to living in a green world. All of a sudden, in the fall, you look out your window and you see red, yellow and orange trees. There are not many places in the world that have such a variety of colors that we do."
If people visit Central Park, they might also visit Union College.
"One of my favorite fall views is the walk down the south lane, which parallels Union Avenue," said Charlie Casey, a college spokesman. "As you look to the west, you've got great views of a lot of colorful maples, and you're also looking toward the Glenville Hills."
Jackson Gardens is another place for fall education. "Near the corner of Nott Street and Seward Place is the entry most people would want to use," Casey said. Union looks nice all during fall, Casey added. "This campus really is an arboretum of sorts," he said. "We've got a lot of different species of trees."
People can find color in unexpected places - if only they look. Schottman, an instructor at the Environmental Clearinghouse of Schenectady, said wide roads - where trees get full exposure to the sun - are great places for fall color. "It really is better to walk on country roads or drive slowly - where you are allowed to drive slowly," she said.
CRUISING ALONG THE RIVER
Gail Kehn, director of tourism for the Chamber of Schenectady County, suggests people cruise along the Mohawk River - in their cars - to enjoy autumn changes.
Starting from Balltown Road, she said, River Road gives people views of colors on the cliffs above the river. Blatnick Park and Lions Park (sometimes referred to as "train station park") are just off the road; stops at either will let people take close looks at changing shades of trees on the nearby county bike path.
"There are some small bushes that get some real bright reds and beautiful golds from the reeds and the wetlands," Kehn said.
Another spot in the county is Mariaville Road (Route 159), which goes through color-rich Mariaville Lake. "The road goes along lake vistas of rolling hills and changing color," she said.
Other color is just a few steps away from Schenectady County: The George Landis Arboretum is in Esperance, in both Schoharie and Montgomery counties - close to the border of Schenectady County. Breglia has color in stock right now.
"It's just starting to get good," he said.
Red maples and ash trees - their leaves turn purple - are in the mood for autumn right now. "If you just drove up the road and took any of the trails, you'd see a lot of color," Breglia said. Landis reds and golds come in two waves. Sometime during October, oaks and beeches will add muted tones of red, brown and purple. There can be color inside the arboretum into November.
Breglia is always looking for visitors. Some people, he said, think of the 500-acre preserve as a place for only spring and summer diversions. "To some degree, I think they do," he said. "A lot of people just think of us [in terms of] perennial gardens, lilacs, crab apples. Flower power always brings people. Fall color is second to that."