Odds are, as you drive home through your neighborhood here in Lawton, there's not much to look at in terms of fall colors. I've lived in four different areas of Lawton in my life, visited friends in many more, and one thing remains nearly the same throughout the city. There's a definite lack of fall color in this town.

I'm sure we've had this chat before, I'm a big fan of fall beauty. I grew up in a small Northern Oklahoma town where every tree turned a color somewhere between yellow and red, and it made for some pretty wholesome feels. Most Lawton neighborhoods just don't get to experience that.

I'm assuming that this is a by-product of the military-town condition Lawton has always existed with. Most older neighborhoods likely planted whatever trees were popular that day. Bradford pears, crepe myrtles, cottonwood, and oak trees. While the Bradford pears do eventually flush either yellow or a deep red for a day or two, the color wash is here and gone in an instant. Crepe myrtles, cottonwoods, and most oak trees here in town typically turn boring old brown.

I think Lawton can do better. Just look at how pretty the trees are along the ugliest stretch of Cache Road.


I believe it was this time last year that, even after spending an entire life raking leaves and claiming I'd never have trees in my own yard, I decided to plant a tree that will offer a pop of color to my own neighborhood. After looking around at the sky-high prices of trees, I decided to try my hand at growing one from a seed.

The neighbor across the street from my parents in my childhood home has three dwarf maple trees that look like they're on fire this time of year. I'm pretty sure they're called Flame Maple's, but I couldn't tell you for sure. I do know that those trees shed off these tiny little whirly-bird type helicopter seeds every spring, so when they fell last April, I picked a handful and planted them in some seedling containers.

Unluckily, I forgot to bring those home with me after I planted them, but my parents stuck them out in their flower beds where they'd at least get a little sprinkler water on a daily basis. They spent most of their time traveling in spring and summer, and the gas company drilled a bunch of holes in their sprinkler lines, so of the twelve seeds I planted, I ended up with two small budding trees.

Once I got them home to Lawton, I swapped them over to some small clay pots and stuck them in my own flower beds. I think it took two nights before the neighborhood rabbits found them. I tried to coerce the one back to health, but eventually, I was down to one tiny little tree.

After a summer of watering, transplanting, learning about soil types, iron chlorosis, and fertilizers, I managed to grow that tiny little seed into a little maple tree about eighteen inches tall. It hasn't started turning over its color yet, but those in my hometown were just starting last Sunday. I imagine I'll get my first look at its fall color any day now.

All in all, it was a fun little project to occupy fifteen minutes of my every day this year, and at least my stretch of crappy Lawton streets will benefit from what it'll grow into one day.

Last year I swore I would plant a tree to improve the brown landscape that is most of this city and I carried through on it. I'd like to invite you to do the same. I still think buying trees is for suckers because they literally grow out of the ground, but it sure would have been easier. Make yourself a plan today to get some seeds for next spring. I sure would have loved to start a month earlier than I did, but you can't rush nature I suppose. It was a fun project, and I can't wait until fall 2022 when I can actually plant it in the ground.

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