I’ve spent the last couple of weeks being a tourist. First, I visited New Mexico including the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque. My husband and I were there to watch CSU and UNM play football (a pretty good game, although CSU lost again), but we couldn’t resist a walk around the campus to check out the plant material. Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) is used extensively there and was near its peak autumn color, as you can see from this photo. It was struck me at the time that this huge wall of color looked like a giant abstract painting.

I returned home to play tourist here in Denver (as host to our lovely house guest, Virginia). We went to the Denver Art Museum to see the new exhibit Color as Field: American Painting, 1950-1975. It features a wonderful selection of large, mostly simple abstract paintings which focus on color. A couple of things I noticed that these paintings have in common are the use of unpainted canvas as part of the composition, and also the use of the paint in a transparent/translucent form. Most of the paintings are studies of color relationships via volume and/or proximity. If you are as intrigued by color as I am, be sure to visit the museum before the exhibit closes February 3.

By the way, Boston ivy does well here too, although it needs shade or partial shade and moderately moist, rich soils. It will climb on walls without support and holds its leaves much later into the fall than the more common Engleman ivy (Parthenocissus quinquefolia engelmannii). I saw one just yesterday in an old North Denver neighborhood and its red foliage was truly spectacular!

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