Why Do Leaves Turn Different Colors?

Leaves are loaded with chlorophyll, which makes them green. But all green plants also carry a set of chemicals called carotenoids. On their own, these look yellow or orange – carotenoids give color to corn and carrots, for example – but they’re invisible beneath the chlorophyllic green of a leaf for most of the year.

In the fall, when the leaves are nearing the end of their life cycle, the chlorophyll breaks down, and the yellow-orange is revealed.

“The color of a leaf is subtractive, like crayons on a piece of paper,” says David Lee, formerly of Florida International University, who has studied leaf color since 1973.

Most trees have evolved to produce a different set of chemicals, called anthocyanins, when it’s bright and cold in autumn. These have a reddish tint and are responsible for the color of a blueberry. They’re also sometimes made in newly sprouting leaves, which explains their sometimes reddish tint. Where chlorophyll and anthocyanins coexist, the color of a leaf may run to bronze, as in ash trees. At high enough concentrations, anthocyanins will make a leaf look almost purple, as in Japanese maples.

More drab autumn colors form as leaves really die and complete the breakdown of the chloroplasts. When they’re all dried out, the pigments link up together into what Lee calls a “brownish gunk.”

Have a burning horticultural question you’d like us to answer, email Steve Fine, at steve@siglands.com.

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Popular Science.

 

What’s the Deal with Fall Turf Aeration?

Why does Signature Landscapes believe so strongly in lawn aeration?

After proper watering, Aerating is the single most important thing you can do for a healthy lawn. Aeration promotes root growth and reduces water usage by getting oxygen and H20 into the root zone. Aerated soil will endure drought stress, fill in bare spots faster and resist insect and disease attack too.

LEARN MORE >

Dan Osborn Earns Landscape Industry Certified Manager Designation

Dan_Mug_5x7Commercial Account Manager, Dan Osborn from Signature Landscapes has earned his Landscape Industry Certified Manager certification designation.

The certification, one of the nation’s most rigid for the landscape industry, is designed to showcase truly talented landscape contractors, business owners and managers who are committed to a higher standard of knowledge and execution of landscape principles.

The Signature Landscapes team is also proud to share the world that Mr. Osborn did extremely well on the exam overall, passing each module on the first try; something seldom seen in the LIC testing process.

Dan has been a professional in the field of landscape and facilities management for the past 25 years. Prior to Signature, Dan served the community as the Class A Superintendent for Northgate and Wildcreek Golf Courses. His expertise carries a thorough knowledge of Northern Nevada climates, especially turf care.

Congratulations and well done on your LIC manager certification designation, Dan!

Joe Blackham Joins Signature’s Residential Team

Joe Blackham

Joe Blackham

Signature Landscapes is proud to announce the hiring of Joe Blackham, the newest member of our residential specialty sales team. Mr. Blackham’s role is focused on the homeowner’s need for turf and irrigation renovation, new plantings (trees and shrubs), yard care packages and Signatures Concierge Care programs.

Joe’s strengths concentrate on customer interaction and his strong background is unique as he hails from the nursery industry as well as sales. His tenure at Hines Nurseries had him overseeing the sales and fulfillment of live goods for 12 home supply stores with the product knowledge ranging the full gamut from color to shrubs and trees, representing five growing sites, inventory control, and customer communication.

Mr. Blackham most recently managed business development for Fast Signs and covered the Truckee Meadows and Carson Valley territories.

The Signature Landscapes team is excited to welcome Mr. Blackham into the family.

The Gospel Truth of Landscaping

God and Lawn Care

GOD:
Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

St. FRANCIS:
It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them
with grass.

GOD:
Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

oldmowersGOD:
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow
really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS:
Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

GOD:They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS:
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD:
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS:
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

oldthailandmowerGOD:
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS:
Yes, Sir.

GOD:
These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS:
You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they
drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD:
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS:
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD:
No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

goofyST. FRANCIS:
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD:
And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS:
They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD:
Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
ST. CATHERINE:
‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about….

GOD:
Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

 

desertmower

 

JOIN US FOR OUR JOB FAIR!

Looking for a job in the outdoors and a career where you can help shape the land? Signature is looking for you this Monday, August 19th from 3:30pm to 6:00pm. We’re hiring all levels of landscape skills.

Learn More →

Lebo Newman featured in American Nurseryman Magazine

Lebo Newman, one of Signature Landscapes’ owners was quoted in the latest American Nurseryman Magazine.

“We absolutely use [an award] as a marketing tool. We look at it as an honor bestowed by our peers. The judges are always peers in our industry, so they know the industry. If our competition is going to deem us worthy of an award, that speaks highly of our work. We feel that if we prove ourselves with that group, then it’s an excellent verification of what we’re trying to do.”

View full article here: American Nurseryman Magazine – Horticulture Magazine and Horticulture Books – What It Takes to Win – June, 2013 – FEATURES.

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