California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Berkeley: Where Bears Meet Beauty

     Posted on November 24, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Beauty Berries, UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

American beautyberry, UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

Berkeley is perhaps California’s most misrepresented city.

It’s more than the Cal Bears and the great university for which they play.

It’s more than the student demonstrations for which the university became famous.

And it’s more than the “People’s Republic of Berkeley,” the oft-said slight to the liberal city and how it is managed.

Berkeley is a wonderful place to visit:

  • for its beautiful residences, many of which are handsome examples of California Craftsman architecture;
  • for its many fascinating shops, which often feature quality handcrafts and fine arts; and
  • for its wealth of great restaurants, including Chez Panisse where kitchen artist Alice Waters conceived farm to fork cooking.

Though, it is in Berkeley’s gardens where bears meet beauty.

One of the state’s loveliest gardens is the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley.

Though it will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, a truly “Berkeley” way to experience Black Friday, would be to protest the day’s in-your-face consumerism and make it an Orange Friday at the Botanical Garden.

Sandy Steinman, editor of Natural History Wanderings and a longtime friend and gifted observer of all things natural, sent these images taken in the Asian Section of the garden, showing it at peak.

The layered colors of crimson and gold are impressive, though it was the royal purple American beautyberry, genus callicarpa, that made us stop to look it up.

Clearly, we’re bearish on Berkeley’s beauty.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/23/15) Sandy Steinman

 

Saratoga Sugars Up

     Posted on November 24, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Ginkgo biloba, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Ginkgo biloba, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Chinese pistache, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Chinese pistache, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Chinese pistache and hawthorne, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Chinese pistache and hawthorne, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Three weeks ago, Silicon Valley color spotter Anson Davalos sent images of downtown Saratoga as it developed color.

This week it was at peak sugar with bright yellow ginkgo biloba, fluorescent red and orange Chinese pistache, ruby and gold hawthorne and maroon flowering pears heavy with leaves.

No doubt, today’s rain and wind sprinkled Saratoga streets with leafy confetti, as it did across Northern California.

Still, a lot of the color will likely remain through the coming weekend.  If you’re heading to the South Bay at Thanksgiving, best bets include: Saratoga, Los Gatos, Pine St. San Jose, Campbell and Los Altos.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Saratoga

Ginkgo biloba, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Ginkgo biloba, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Ginkgo biloba, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Ginkgo biloba, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Chinese pistache, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Chinese pistache, Saratoga (11/23/15) Anson Davalos

Going To Town in Los Angeles

     Posted on November 24, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Undisclosed Colorful Locale in Los Angeles (11/23/15) LA Leaf Peeper

Undisclosed Colorful Locale in Los Angeles (11/23/15) LA Leaf Peeper

Los Angeles color spotter “LA Leaf Peeper” (actual name withheld to prevent paparazzi from hounding this celebrity), reports that fall color is now “going to town” throughout the City of Angels.

LA Leaf Peeper has been the first anywhere in California to report fall color for the past two years and though this LA “star’s” reports are few, they include insights to the status of fall color in tinseltown.

We’re sure Extra, Inside Edition, the National Enquirer or TMZ will want to know that turned leaves are still hanging from the early-showing liquidambar that LA Leaf Peeper alerted us to in August.  Though now, all LA’s deciduous trees are lit up brighter than the red carpet at the Dolby Theater on Oscar night.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Los Angeles 

Orange Friday at Lake Gregory

     Posted on November 23, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Ansel Adams got so many great photographs of Yosemite, not just because he was a great artist,  but because he lived there.

Color spotter Alena Nicholas has shared many beautiful images of Lake Gregory this autumn, because she lives there.

Nicholas writes,”They say home is where the heart is, and after this weekend, I thought to share, once more, the beauty of my little “home” lake. It may not be Yosemite, the Eastern Sierras, or Northern California, but Lake Gregory always puts its best foot forward and shares whatever beauty it has to the very end!”

Big Bear (11/23/15) Nancy Barron Booher

Big Bear (11/23/15) Nancy Barron Booher

That’s certainly true of what Alena showed us of Lake Gregory, this autumn. The sunsets there and from the nearby Rim of the World have been beautiful.

In the collection of photographs submitted by Alena, today, we see another aspect of fall in the San Bernardino Mountains… a forest full of deeply orange black oak at peak. Along shore, hints of yellow brighten the scene.

Alena traveled to Big Bear today where she likely saw scenes like this black oak, shot by Nancy Barron Booher and posted on our Facebook page.

With more snow predicted to arrive in the San Bernardinos on Wednesday and Thursday, Alena’s trip could be her last fall color outing this autumn.

Let’s hope this won’t be a Black Friday, but will still be orange.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Lake Gregory, Rim of the World and the San Bernardino Mountains

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/22/15) Alena Nicholas

LA County Arboretum Nears Peak

     Posted on November 22, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Crepe Myrtle, LACArboretum (11/21/15) Frank McDonough

Crepe Myrtle, LACArboretum (11/21/15) Frank McDonough

Sweet gum, red maple, Chinese tallow and San Gabriel Mountains, LAC Arboretum  (11/22/15) Frank McDonough

Sweet gum, red maple, Chinese tallow and San Gabriel Mountains, LAC Arboretum (11/22/15) Frank McDonough

Chinese tallow, LAC Arboretum  (11/22/15) Frank McDonough

Birch, LAC Arboretum (11/22/15) Frank McDonough

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mislabeled or just didn’t know what kind of tree appears in one of the photos posted on this site.

That’s why I enjoy visiting arboretums.  At arboretums, trees are well-marked.  The ones in nature don’t have a plaque at the base of their trunks with their common and latin names engraved on it.  At an arboretum, they do.

I own several plant identification books, but visiting an arboretum shows me what the tree will really look like when it’s fully grown.  “So, that’s what it means to be 70′ tall,” I’ve muttered to myself while looking at a tree I’d mistakenly thought would be right for my yard.

For anyone who loves trees, their great size, the beauty of their heavy, twisted branches, or how mature trees attract us to them, visiting an arboretum is endlessly fascinating.

California fan palm and ash, LAC Arboretum  (11/22/15) Frank McDonough

California fan palm and ash, LAC Arboretum (11/22/15) Frank McDonough

Birch, LAC Arboretum  (11/22/15) Frank McDonough

Chinese tallow, LAC Arboretum (11/22/15) Frank McDonough

This week is the week to visit California’s arboretums.  Their associated botanic gardens are mostly dormant, but the arboretums are full of color.

Frank McDonough reports the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia is nearing peak and should be prime for the next two weeks.

Seen among his photographs are delicately stemmed crepe myrtle, a variety of colorful trees taken from Myberg Falls toward the San Gabriel Mountains, birch draping a garden path, a California fan palm beside full peak ash, and Chinese tallow (also known as the Florida aspen).

California has nearly 20 arboretums, in nearly every corner of the state.  All are beautiful places to find solace and to learn more about the native and exotic trees growing throughout our state. CLICK HERE for a list of them.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Napa Valley: Perfectly Paired for Thanksgiving Day

     Posted on November 22, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

The Napa Valley is perfectly paired to provide beautiful fall color through Thanksgiving Day (conditions permitting). And, where do fall color photographers head on the weekend before Thanksgiving, when Tioga Pass is closed (and even if it weren’t, the color was gone from the Eastern Sierra weeks ago)? They head to wine country.

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Anson Davalos

Napa Valley (11/22/15) Darrell Sano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darrell Sano did just that and sends back this collection of beautiful photographs taken this morning of the Napa Valley at peak. He got up early to catch the morning light warming the vines as balloons floated across the valley in the crisp and still November air. Then, he followed the color, finding brilliant yellows and reds in the vineyards.

Oakville, Napa (11/21/15) Santha Kumar V A

Oakville, Napa (11/21/15) Santha Kumar V A

Oakville, Napa (11/21/15) Santha Kumar V A

Oakville, Napa (11/21/15) Santha Kumar V A

Color spotter Santha Kumar V A was similarly satisfied after visiting Oakville, yesterday. He writes that it is “bursting golden.’ Santha tasted the golden color of a boulevard of ginkgo biloba trees beside rows of peaking yellow vines, in an image he calls, “Two Sides.”

During this season, indeed the Napa Valley has two sides: its full fall color and its full-flavored wines.

Color spotters Susan Taylor and Jas E Miner also found wine country to their taste, capturing vines and boulevards full of peak color in Napa and Sonoma counties.

All this makes wine country a best bet for fall color getaways over the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Napa Valley

 

 

Napa Valley (11/14/15) Susan Taylor

Napa Valley (11/14/15) Susan Taylor

Slusser Barn, Sonoma County (11/11/15) Susan Taylor

Slusser Barn, Sonoma County (11/11/15) Susan Taylor

Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa County (11/20/15) Jas E. Miner

Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa County (11/20/15) Jas E. Miner

Postcard: Peak, Peak, Peak, Peak, Peak

     Posted on November 22, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Apple Hill (11/19/15) Vera Haranto Fuad

Apple Hill (11/19/15) Vera Haranto Fuad

With with the possible exceptions of The Deserts and Santa Catalina Island, it is now peaking at all California elevations below 2,000′.

Apple Hill (11/16/15) Sarah Showalter

Apple Hill (11/16/15) Sarah Showalter

Apple Hill in the Sierra foothills of El Dorado County are canopied with color, as spotters Vera Haranto Fuad and Sarah Showalter found when they visited this past week.

Historic photos taken by Linnea Wahamaki and Susan Taylor (posted to our Facebook site) show the beauty seen this month in Nevada City in the Gold Country and at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park in the Shasta Cascade.

Seen from 800′ in the Sierra foothills at El Dorado Hills, the Sacramento Valley is covered with broad spotches of red, orange and yellow fall color, like a Persian carpet that’s been cast across the valley floor.

Maple, Nevada City (11/5/15) Linnea Wahamaki

Maple, Nevada City (11/5/15) Linnea Wahamaki

Maple, Nevada City (11/5/15) Linnea Wahamaki

Maple, Nevada City (11/5/15) Linnea Wahamaki

McArthur-Burney Falls (11/14/15) Susan Taylor

McArthur-Burney Falls (11/14/15) Susan Taylor

Red oak, Citrus Heights (11/16/15) Sarah Showalter

Red oak, Citrus Heights (11/16/15) Sarah Showalter

Ginkgo biloba, Agoura (11/19/15) Kathy Jonokuchi

Ginkgo biloba, Agoura (11/19/15) Kathy Jonokuchi

Blue oak, El Dorado Hills (11/21/15) John Poimiroo

Blue oak, El Dorado Hills (11/21/15) John Poimiroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Showalter’s photo of a red oak ablaze in Citrus Heights is typical of the color to be seen lined along boulevards in Folsom, Fair Oaks, Carmichael and Sacramento.

Japanese maple, Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys (11/22/15) Bonnie Nordby

Japanese maple, Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys (11/22/15) Bonnie Nordby

Today, Bonnie Nordby strolled through a magical forest of crimson, yellow, orange and golden Japanese maple at the Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, and sent us this snap.

From the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon), Jennifer “JMel” Mellone contributed photos taken in Campbell

Wherever you go, California’s many urban forests are on fire. Color spotter Kathy Jonokuchi sent snaps of garden color in Agoura and Nancy Wright of Murietta send added some of Pepper trees in Murietta (both in Southern California), where exotic trees will continue to provide fall color (weather permitting) through the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

However, from Plumas County, color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb is almost longing in expressing that the fall color there has descended to the river bottoms. His brooding image of smoke rising through a forest of pine and black oak whose last remaining leaves cling weakly to spindly branches, is a nostalgic reminder that 2015’s autumn show has only days remaining.

Liquidambar, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Malone

Liquidambar, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Mellone

Ginkgo biloba, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Malone

Ginkgo biloba, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Mellone

Pepper, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Malone

Pepper, Campbell (11/22/15) Jennifer Mellone

Pepper, Murietta (11/22/15) Nancy Wright

Pepper, Murietta (11/22/15) Nancy Wright

Pepper, Murietta (11/22/15) Nancy Wright

Pepper, Murietta (11/22/15) Nancy Wright

Black oak, Plumas County (11/22/15) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Plumas County (11/22/15) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Fall Color for the Holidays

     Posted on November 19, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Elm, Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Elm, Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Folks heading home for the holidays should see lots of fall color in yards and urban forests, as this sampling taken by color spotters across California attests.

Ginkgo biloba, Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Ginkgo biloba, Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Maple, Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Maple, Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

Southside Park, Sacramento (11/15/15) Jim Adams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Adams went out this week to capture glorious golden ginkgos and colossal claret-colored liquidambar along the boulevards of Sacramento’s Southside Park. Our state’s capital is a sight to behold in autumn when towering London Plane, Elm, Sycamore and trees of every imaginable variety, planted decades ago to shade the city from scorching summer heat, turn red-hot as Thanksgiving Day approaches.

Los Gatos (11/15/15) Anson Davalos

Los Gatos (11/15/15) Anson Davalos

Los Gatos (11/15/15) Anson Davalos

Los Gatos (11/15/15) Anson Davalos

Los Gatos (11/15/15) Anson Davalos

Los Gatos (11/15/15) Anson Davalos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Santa Clara Valley (AKA Silicon),  Anson Davalos found Los Gatos streets  arched with rufous arbors.

Heavenly bamboo, Murietta (11/15/15) Nancy Wright

Heavenly bamboo, Murietta (11/15/15) Nancy Wright

Liquidambar, Murietta (11/15/15) Nancy Wright

Liquidambar, Murietta (11/15/15) Nancy Wright

Murietta (11/15/15) Nancy Wright

Murietta (11/15/15) Nancy Wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, near Riverside, Nancy Wright drove through Murietta to find heavenly bamboo and liquidambar brightening the southland.

What makes California fall color so different from other areas on the continent is that our Mediterranean climate allows many varieties of exotic deciduous trees to flourish. That doesn’t happen elsewhere in North America.  And, that means we get a flush of brilliant color in our gardens, arboretums and urban forests that is incomparable.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – California’s Urban Forests

Sunsets, Another of Nature’s Fall Colors

     Posted on November 18, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Lake Gregory (11/18/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/18/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/18/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/18/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/18/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/18/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/18/15) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory (11/18/15) Alena Nicholas

Why do autumn sunsets seem more spectacular than at other times of year?

The Weather Channel reports that, because of its shorter wavelength, blue light is scattered easiest by nitrogen and oxygen air molecules, whereas “longer wavelengths — reds and oranges – are not scattered as much by air molecules.”

During sunrise and sunset, sunlight must pass through more of the atmosphere before we see it, TWC writes, “so it comes into contact with even more molecules in the air.”  And, “As days grow shorter, the skies at sunset glow with the most spectacular hues, blooming with pinks, reds and oranges.”

Autumn weather patterns also bring drier, cleaner air from the north, allowing more colors of the spectrum to “make it through to our eyes without getting scattered by particles in the air, producing brilliant sunsets and sunrises that can look red, orange, yellow or even pink.”

Tonight, San Bernardino Mountains color spotter Alena Nicholas found the autumn sky lit with these colors as high clouds reflected nature’s fall colors.

 

 

Humboldt County – Now Peaking Tree By Tree

     Posted on November 18, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Avenue of the Giants (11/16/15) Max Forster

Avenue of the Giants (11/16/15) Max Forster

Max Forster reports from Humboldt County that, “It’s hard to really give a blanket rating of Peak/Past Peak for the area.  It’s more about individual trees or small areas than wide swaths of color.  Some spots are past, while others are just getting into peak.”

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Humboldt Redwoods State Park – While some of the big leaf maple have petered out, others that have been surviving outside of full sun are peaking now.  Avenue of Giants is still a worthwhile drive. 

Maple at the extreme southern and northern ends of Humboldt Redwoods State Park are looking nice.  For the south, by the Bolling Grove to Myer’s Flat.  For the north, specifically by the Drury-Chaney Grove in Pepperwood and the unnamed trail by Elinor Road are peak.

Mad River (11/16/15) Max Forster

Mad River (11/16/15) Max Forster

Vine maple, Pacific Coast Trail (11/16/15) Max Forster

Vine maple, Pacific Coast Trail (11/16/15) Max Forster

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – Roosevelt Elk bulls are still actively rutting, battling rivals and gathering their harems.  They have been seen daily by Big Lagoon and the little red schoolhouse.  Similar to Humboldt Redwoods, bigleaf maple that have been growing without direct sunlight are really going off now.  The big maple by the visitor center is at peak. 

Vine maple is also finally peaking, turning brilliant yellow like their big leaf neighbors.  Some parts of the trails are like walking through a sea of yellow. 

Specific spots are along Drury Parkway by the Big Tree for the big leaf maple. For the vine maple, the Prairie Creek Trail is your best bet.  A very brilliant vine maple grove can also be seen roadside on Drury Parkway by the Brown Creek Trail.

Avenue of the Giants, Drury Chaney (11/16/15) Max Forster

Avenue of the Giants, Drury Chaney (11/16/15) Max Forster

Drury Parkway (11/16/15) Max Forster

Drury Parkway (11/16/15) Max Forster

Drury Parkway (11/16/15) Max Forster

Drury Parkway (11/16/15) Max Forster