Shades of brown add interest to woods in winter


Summer’s lush greenery and fall’s spectacular leaf colors are gone, replaced mostly by quiet tones of winter brown. That doesn’t mean, though, that Georgia’s woods, meadows, wetlands and other wild places become dull and boring as winter sets in.

The color isn’t really gone. Brown, for instance, is not as drab as we might think. In winter, there may be as many shades of brown — tan, russet, beige, bronze, wood brown, buff brown, golden brown, umber, amber, taupe, mahogany — as there are green hues in spring.

As you walk in the woods, a park or backyard now, notice the different shades of brown among the fallen leaves, acorns, nuts, pine cones, seeds and other remnants of the growing season. You can see them, too, in the seed heads and dead stems of goldenrods, thistles, asters and other plants that bloomed so colorfully only weeks ago.

And even though brown becomes a dominant color in winter, Georgia’s woods still retain a lot of greenery during the cold season because of pines, hemlocks, hollies, Christmas ferns and other evergreens.

Most of the time, a walk through the woods in winter is about seeing details overlooked in other seasons — such as tree bark, one of the most interesting and beautiful parts of a tree.

An amazing variety of color, texture and patterns are found in tree bark, but in the rich green foliage of summer those features don’t get much notice. In winter, when hardwood trees are dormant and leafless, the bark becomes more prominent and invites us to pay closer attention, especially when the wood is bathed in winter light.

Take time to notice the exfoliating bark of river birch, the corky bark of sweet gum, the alligator-hide bark of dogwood, the smooth bluish-gray bark of American beech, the military-camouflage bark of sycamore, the flaky bark of white oak, the blocky looking bark of persimmon, and on and on.

Also beckoning closer inspection in winter are mosses, lichens and fungi on tree bark and on the forest floor.

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be full Sunday — the “Snow Moon,” as the Cherokee peoples called December’s full moon. The only planets visible now are Mars and Jupiter, which are low in the east just before sunrise.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

NBC’s Lester Holt to rock DC this weekend with Stones’ Chuck Leavell, Kevin Bacon 
NBC’s Lester Holt to rock DC this weekend with Stones’ Chuck Leavell, Kevin Bacon 

Lester Holt has reported from North Korea, waded through Texas flood waters to cover Hurricane Harvey and coaxed an eye opening comment about the firing of FBI director Jim Comey from President Donald Trump during an Oval Office interview. Yet none of that flustered the NBC Nightly News anchor as much as having to decide on an outfit for his band&rsquo...
7 ways to make your first AJC Peachtree Road Race the best ever
7 ways to make your first AJC Peachtree Road Race the best ever

With an expected more than 60,000 runners and more than 45 years and counting in the making, the AJC Peachtree Road Race is guaranteed to be a blast −and not just because it happens on the Fourth of July. If you're one of the lucky registrants, congratulations. And if you are entering for the first time, welcome to you, too.  Whether...
A nightmare flu season finally comes to end
A nightmare flu season finally comes to end

A Coweta County father was carefully restoring a black-on-black 1964 Ford Falcon convertible to give his daughter as a surprise for her 16th birthday. Instead, Marino Molina had to sell the car to help pay for her funeral. He’s still stunned that one day in late January, his daughter, Kira, was upbeat and had just passed a physical to play tennis...
How much did “Avengers: Infinity War” spend in Georgia?

Marvel’s latest blockbuster, “Avengers: Infinity War” packed an superhero-sized economic punch, state officials say. The movie, out Friday, and its successor due out in 2019 filmed in Georgia from January 2017 to just recently and generated more than $182 million in local economic activity, the Georgia Department...
Boys High’s ‘last hoorah’: a bittersweet reunion of Old Atlanta’s finest
Boys High’s ‘last hoorah’: a bittersweet reunion of Old Atlanta’s finest

The 72 gentlemen who gathered last week for a high school reunion at the Cherokee Town Club stood at the end of the luncheon, raised glasses of Champagne and chanted their motto: “Boys High forever! Boys High forever! Boys High forever!” It was a brave show, but forever is a long time, and time is catching up to Boys High. From its founding...
More Stories