Hiking through Smithgall is still quite interesting. One becomes aware of just how numerous our American Beech Trees are. Even though most of the yellow color is gone from their leaves, they still cling tenaciously to their brown leaves which still have a certain light golden glow about them. Of all the deciduous trees, they keep their leaves the longest. Many of these trees will cling to their leaves until early Spring… releasing them just in time to begin sprouting new leaves!
The Red Oaks were among the last to turn their scarlet red colors this year. Here and there one finds a small tree with a few bright red leaves hanging on…waving a fond farewell in the cold north winds that are whipping through the park now.
All of our wildflowers have withered away now…awaiting the warmth of the coming Spring. However, if one draws near the banks of Duke’s Creek, one will find here and there a tiny colony of the beautiful little blue-colored Closed Gentians. Somehow they manage to prosper even in cold weather in moist pockets where a little warmth yet remains. These hardy little “gems” will still appear as late as mid January in the right conditions.