By all accounts, this fall’s colors in the Four-State region are especially vivid. Cate Brenneman, landscape architect and director of Pittsburg State University’s Landscape Services, said the area had the perfect weather alignment for a colorful fall.
“While moisture helps the overall well-being of the trees on campus, it is not the reason for good fall color,” Breneman said. “Dry, warm days that are followed by cool, dry nights will create the best color for fall. We had a long period in early September when the day-time temperatures were warm, and the evenings cool. This setup made the colors on campus really pop.”
Breneman said getting the best fall palette takes some planning.
“We have been working to introduce various new species of trees to campus to further enhance the color spectrum for fall,” Breneman said. “Maples are notorious for their bright red and orange fall colors. Red, Sugar Maple varieties are especially nice. Our Ash trees provide much of the yellow and purple-bronze that you see on the Oval. For shrubs, the Burning Bush is probably the most popular and prominent here on campus, but the Nandina also provides vivid color at this time of the year.”
Breneman’s favorite tree for fall color is one that may not be commonly well known.
“The Black Tupelo provides beautiful red fall color and is one of my favorites,” Breneman said.
Those cascades of brilliant fall color eventually fall to the ground and homeowners as well as landscapers have to decide what to do with the sea of leaves. Breneman advises treating the leaves as a valuable resource instead of burning them or bagging them for the landfill.
“The Landscape Maintenance Department does compost the leaves that we pick up,” Breneman said. “We create straight leaf compost and we also add the leaves to the university compost piles that we maintain that include compostable material from the Student Center and Gibson Dining Hall. The compost created on campus is used to amend the landscape beds that provide beautiful seasonal color come spring.”
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