28 September 2012

A different kind of creeper

The "Creeper" on our Cottonwoods
A few years ago I created a post entitled "the creeper" which was a bit of a spoof on the creeper from Scooby Do, but was dedicated to a little inconspicuous bird called the Brown Creeper.  What is truly creepy about it is its continued ranking as the number 1 most-read post I've ever written.  So in some way, this post's title is testing a theory.

But it is about a different kind of creeper.  Virginia Creeper to be more precise.  This is our third Fall out here on the Hill.  We are surrounded mostly by golden yellows associated with the colors produced in the fall by the century-old ash trees that line the homestead, and the cottonwoods and walnut trees along the creek.  We have two red maples that manage to interrupt a bit of the yellow monotony.  And the sycamores produce a coppery variation to the skyline.  But we often comment how much we miss our two big old sugar maples that stood guard at each corner of our front yard.  They provided a show of dark yellow to bright orange and every variation in between.  I may be biased, but they-particularly the south guard, were the most striking trees on all of South Michigan.  Which is why I was nearly sick to my stomach after only a year living there, the new owners trimmed (read "butchered") both so badly.

However, there is one early-turner at Sycamore Hill that, in turn, turns a lot of heads.  We have a great deal of Virginia Creeper, which is a woody vine with five leaflets per leaf, clinging to many of our trees along the creek.  Virginia Creeper, given enough sunlight, turns a dark crimson to burgundy color early in the Fall.  Near the road, on each side of the bridge, there is a grove of mature walnut trees that have a very open trunk and branch structure where the "creeper" is most evident this time of year.  The same is true of one of our tallest trees along the creek, an old cottonwood, which has the creeper extending to the very tips of its highest branches.....almost like flames extending into the sky.


The "Creeper" as it begins to cover our house
Knowing its showy Fall qualities, when the creeper began to grow on the south side of our house after I removed the old landscaping, I decided it wasn't going to hurt the aluminum siding that would one day come off so that we could restore the old wood siding underneath.  So I let it grow....and in less than three years it has covered about half of the south wall.  I was hoping for a spectacular show this fall, but the Japanese beetles managed to take a bite out of that plan.  The leaves have been turned to lace, though the burgundy color is still evident.

I still miss those old sugar maples from River City, but God saw fit to provide a double-punch here with both gold and crimson.  Take a drive down our road beneath the walnut grove that shelters the bridge.  You won't be disappointed.

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