The gorgeous displays of reds, oranges and golds is especially striking this year because [a] it's been a very cold and dry season, both of which stress trees into withdrawing their green chlorophyll earlier and more quickly (thereby revealing the natural anthocyanins and carotene colors), and [b] the lack of rain and wind has left those vibrant leaves on the trees longer. Now that the storms are arriving, we're getting more of what we're used to:
Autumn gardens are among my favorites, not only for their foliage colors but because of the way the winter light plays on details such as leaf margins and seed heads, such as the tall Miscanthus and Calamagrostis grass plumes that look splendid all golden and backlit. Other specimens, such as the coral-bark Japanese maple and the river birch, start showing some of their best assets that are hidden, or at least overshadowed, most of the year. But there's no denying that colorful foliage is the star of the season, especially when set against a backdrop of dark evergreens such as pines, redwoods or even magnolias. Some of my favorites include:
As you're out and about over the next few days, I hope you'll make it a point to notice and appreciate the colors before they're brought back to earth by the rain and winds. If you see something particularly stunning, feel free to send it in. And if you have favorite autumn plants of your own, please share!