Nature’s Sanctuary


Leaves of cedar elm and Chinese tallow, combined with the bright red berries of yaupon, glow in the late, low afternoon sunlight, their panoply of color providing the backdrop for a young tree branch — perhaps American beech.

The effect is as pleasing as any stained glass window: a perfect complement to nature’s sanctuary.


Comments always are welcome.

60 thoughts on “Nature’s Sanctuary

  1. The sharp backlit green leaves with its dimmer background of blurred fall colors offers wonderful seasonal contrast. Looks fit for Thanksgiving!! How grand!!

      1. Oh yes, too true!! When photographing plants in the wild it is not like those perfectly painted specimens as there are nibbles, webs, decay and odd fluff sometimes. But, yeah its food; its life and we are blessed for it!!

    1. It is beautiful. I thought first of stained glass, but then I realized the image would make a fabulous Christmas card, with a somewhat unusual Christmas tree, and seasonal lights in the background.

    1. Hail, backlighting, indeed. You certainly used the technique to good effect in your own post today. It was interesting to see your two views of the senna pods; they’re roughly analgous to my photo of the red Chinese tallow tree and these leaves, at least in terms of using the light in different ways.

      I’m not at all skilled when it comes to tree identification, but I’m pretty sure about this ID. I used this visual key, which has been very helpful from time to time.

  2. This is gorgeous — and I think you might be right about it being a beech limb. I seem to recognize the leaf shape from my early days in school. I don’t guess kids make collections of actual leaves anymore though, do they?

    1. Some of them do — thank goodness. When I remember my own childhood leaf collections, I still can feel the texture of the elm leaves, and the beautiful colors of the maples. Did you press leaves between sheets of waxed paper with an iron? We’d do that, cut around the leaves, and then hang them in our school windows.

      1. We did, too! Brings back fond memories (and I’m convinced we learned trees better than today’s kids because our collections involved ALL our senses!)

    1. There’s nothing quite like taking the time to compose an image like this on a day that’s warm, sunny, and not too breezy. It’s a wonderful excuse to linger in the ‘sanctuary.’

    1. Looking at the photo, I remembered the line attributed to Camus: “Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.” It certainly applies here, and I was so pleased to see this little bouquet.

    1. While you’re harvesting blueberries, I’m beginning to see red, yellow, and orange berries all around. Granted, some are disappearing as fast as the greedy little birds can manage, but you know something about that! As long as they last, the color is wonderful — like the leaves.

    1. I’m still not entirely sure the branch is beech, although American beech shows up very near this spot on the USDA and BONAP maps. In any event, I found this article that will be of interest to you. It quotes Doug Tallamy, who says that the tree supports up to a hundred species of moths and butterflies — amazing, really. The whole article is fascinating — the tree is more than just pretty colors!

        1. Thanks, Deb. Even here in town, more trees — including some natives — are putting on rich, lovely color. We’ve had another ‘cold’ spell, and though it was nothing compared to what most people are experiencing now, it was enough. I predict more loveliness.

  3. Nature has an incredible abundance of little gifts to give to just you and nobody else, just because you happened to be in just the right place at just the right time — but it’s one of those you have to be there. So many people don’t have the option, opportunity, need or want to be there, and they miss so much. The green of those leaves is so luminous.

    1. In truth, even people who take the opportunity to be “there” aren’t always there. They may be visiting physically, but their inattention is breathtaking. Of course, learning to see what’s around us takes some time, but those who drive through refuges at 30 miles an hour without ever stopping aren’t going to see much.

      I do love the green of those leaves, and the damage, too. Like so many things, perfection can be in the eye of the beholder, and I think those leaves are perfect.

    1. It does have that strong, onward-and-upward feel, doesn’t it? They say that certain colors energize. It’s easy to imagine it being energized by all those glorious autumn colors surrounding it, and deciding it’s time to ‘branch out.’

    1. What a wonderful comparison. I always enjoy the tiny details backlighting reveals, like the fuzz on a stem, but the glow it can produce is equally wonderful. Autumn certain is the season when the lowered sun and vibrant colors combine to good effect.

  4. I consider this effect a translucency, because the leaves are allowing light through, but not detailed shapes (like transparency), the backlight makes them glow. How nice!

    1. It’s that translucency that makes old china so beautiful. Being able to hold a dinner plate up to the light and see it glow isn’t quite as dramatic as seeing these leaves, but it’s the same phenomenon. It’s always amused me, just a bit, that so many cosmetic companies turn to “translucency” to describe the effect of their products. They know that people like the effect.

    1. For the longest time, I didn’t realize that yaupon berries can be orange or yellow as well as red. They really are beautiful, although I confess I have an equal or greater fondness for possumhaw (Ilex decidua). Those bare, berry-laden branches are gorgeous.

      By the way — you are exactly right. It should be Bloggers’ — with that plural possessive.

    1. It was a beautiful day, and even though this was taken mid-day, when I usually have trouble with harsh light, the trees in the background helped to create a pleasing background.

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