October 26, 2021

Breeding Colours

In a comment to the post below, Sam De Groot provides an insight that explains why the Vancouver fall seems more colourful than ever but also on the nature of incremental change.

It used to be that we had to look forward to a colder, dryer fall to get the best out of the fall colours, but now I think we are reaping the benefits of a few decades of breeding especially for fall colour. Quite a few years ago I noticed some of the cultivars being newly planted had names like “Scarlet Sentinel” and “Autumn Blaze”. And there are many more.

I just looked on the city’s tree database, and these cultivars are to be found in just the downtown:

  • Scarlet Sentinel
  • Norwegian Sunset
  • Autumn Flame
  • Autumn Blaze
  • Red Sunset
  • Scarlet Oak
  • Redspire
  • Crimson King
  • Pacific Sunset
  • Brandywine Red
  • October Glory
  • Sunburst
  • Autumn Purple
  • Autumn Applause

And this certainly has not been a cooler, dryer fall.

 

When change occurs incrementally – literally tree by tree, year by year – we tend not to notice the change until, one day, it seems that some kind of shift has occurred that we were previously oblivious to.

I had that experience a weekend ago when I returned to my hometown of Victoria. I typically take a tour of the block I grew up on, routes to the schools I went to, and the little shopping villages my mother would send me to.  And every time, I have the same experience: almost nothing has changed!  Literally every house, every school, every shop is the same – perhaps with an extension, a paint job or a change of name.

But this time, I drove right by the house I grew up in and didn’t even notice. 

Same white stucco, same picket fence, same bushes out front.  So why did I miss it?

The boulevard trees, which never seemed to change, have incrementally obscured the rest of an unchanged neighbourhood.   It just took a lifetime (mine) to do so, which is how a city changes colour.

 

 

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