The changing nature of green

Green is infinitely varied, by location and by season.
Spring allee (bridal path) by Carol L. Douglas

Earlier this week I gave readers my matrix for mixing greens. It’s a central console from which you can travel in any direction to meet the greens that you actually see. Greens shift by latitude, altitude, and by season of the year, but if you start there, you should be able to go anywhere.

In the northeast, we aren’t seeing much green yet. The willow twigs are yellow and the osier is a brilliant red but everything else appears dormant. Later this month we’ll see the first haze of spring foliage. That is often anything but green, depending on the color of the bud scales. Maples, for example, have distinctive red buds. You can expect to modulate your greens with yellows, blues or even orange in spring.
(The US Geological Service tracks tree budding here.)
Early spring, by Carol L. Douglas. Early spring colors can look just like autumn colors.
By June our foliage is hardening into its true summer color. From June to August, the northern forest is growing rapidly. Trees compete ferociously for sunlight. They crowd out the weak and aggressively send saplings into any open space.
Beach saplings, by Carol L. Douglas. By mid-summer, trees have assumed a fairly uniform green.
Leaves convert light into energy through photosynthesis. This happens in tiny organelles in the cells of the leaf that contain the pigment chlorophyll. During peak summer months, leaves are absolutely stuffed with chlorophyll. If one color represented mid-summer green, it would be chromium-oxide green. However, it would be a mistake to paint trees with this pigment. You’d have an undifferentiated, uniform mess of green. How do I know? I’ve done it.
Trees breathe through stomata, located on the undersides of deciduous leaves and in bands along evergreen needles. This is why leaves are paler on the underside.
Palm, by Carol L. Douglas. The greens of tropical areas are different from northern greens.
By late summer, replacement chlorophyll is blocked from traveling into the leaves. This results in autumn color. But green, albeit dulled, remains an integral part of the autumn landscape right until the last leaves fall. Dampen those brilliant greens by modulating with their complements.
There is also green in the dead of winter. The evergreens retain their dark foliage, which ranges from almost black to grey-greens.
Nunda barn, (pastel) by Carol L. Douglas. Even in the height of fall color, there is much green.
Conifer needles usually last around three years before they turn brown, yellow or red and drop off. This natural aging affects the color you see at a distance.
Most pines drop their needles in the fall. These turn yellow naturally from the top to the bottom of the tree. Spruces and firs also drop needles, but the change is usually less noticeable because their older needles are thinned progressively.
Snow at higher elevations, by Carol L. Douglas.
Usually, conifers are the only green we see in the winter landscape. These trees are biologically adapted to lousy soil and the weak sunshine of high latitudes. That gives them their dark-green coloration; it helps them absorb more sunlight. This is why the pines of the south are lighter in color.