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Monday, November 22, 2010

A Foliaged Farewell to the Garden

250 year old allee. Pitney Farm (Menham, New Jersey)
Kathleen T. Pitney, photographer
How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.

– John Burroughs, naturalist

Nature writers like John Burroughs (1837-1921) along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, John Muir and Henry David Thoreau have had a huge influence on America’s appreciation of nature. Burroughs’ writings, in particular, made him a popular public figure in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the conservation movement in America was making important strides at the national level. As a result of his popularity, Burroughs made friends with powerful and influential people, including President Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford (all of whom he camped with).

Vollum Garden (Portland, Oregon)
Cynthia Woodyard, photographer

If you live where the leaves are changing right now, you are probably seeing what Burroughs observed in the striking reds, oranges, and yellows in the landscape as the days get shorter and the nights get crisper. So this week, the Archives of American Gardens celebrates the spectacular colors of autumn that say farewell to the garden… until spring when another seasonal transformation takes place.

Pitney Farm (Mendham, New Jersey)
Kathleen T. Pitney, photographer

To learn more about the science behind the changing colors of leaves, visit the U.S. Forest Service’s web site dedicated to the topic.

Archival materials relating to Burroughs can be found in numerous repositories throughout the country spanning from California to Massachusetts. 

-Kelly Crawford, Museum Specialist
Archives of American Gardens
Smithsonian Gardens 


  1. Thanks for those beautiful images of autumn. It is time to pause and appreciate the nature and leave the stress behind.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. As a native of Ohio and having lived in New England for years, I miss the vibrant colors of autumn here in Southern California. Thank you for triggering some very fond memories.