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Night and Day

Moonlight Forest, LA County Arboretum (12/12/19) Frank McDonough

During this festive season, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens is beautiful both night and day.

Nightly until Jan. 12, during its Moonlight Forest event, the LA County Arboretum is illuminated with colorful lanterns while sunlit days still hang heavy with the last of LA County’s autumn color.

Here’s some of the beauty to be enjoyed. Click to enlarge images.

LA County Arboretum (12/12/19) Frank McDonough
Moonlight Forest, LA County Arboretum (12/12/19) Frank McDonough
Sunlit Forest, LA County Arboretum (12/12/19) Frank McDonough
  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Behold San Gabriel

Early December is when the San Gabriel Valley is said to peak each year. Appropriate, considering that – scripture records – St. Gabriel foretold the reason for the Christmas season.

As predicted, it’s peaking now with ornamental trees heralding heavy loads of yellow, chartreuse and orange-pink foliage in La Canada.

John Jackson sends these images taken along Viro Rd., which is lined with towering liquidambar, sycamore and Chinese pistache.

  • La Canada (970′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Liquidambar Brighten, Finally

So far this autumn, Liquidambar (Sweetgum) have been disappointingly flat. Photographs received, and those I’ve seen, have lacked the vibrant, firey colors normal for this colorful ornamental tree.

Color spotter Mohammed Hossain scores a First Report from Walnut-Rowland Heights and comes to the rescue, providing these mobile phone snaps he took on a walk in his neighborhood, West of Pomona.

Mohammed says recent storms with lots of rain and crisp, cool, clear following days have refreshed the trees, causing the colors to brighten. Perhaps that’s what’s been missing in an autumn that’s been unusually dry.

He continues that the San Gabriel Mountains are now dusted with snow, providing that Chamber of Commerce image that Rose Parade viewers have come to associate with Southern California in winter. Though, this is still autumn; winter does not begin until December 21.

It’s easy to imagine how Mohammed’s walk/jog, as he described, filled his “heart and soul” with the beauty of a late autumn day that was dressed with rainbows arcing above the dazzling colors.

  • Walnut-Rowland (571′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Davis Pears and Peppers Up

Flowering pear, Davis (12/8/19) Philip Reedy

Just like Healdsburg, Davis’ pears are up. So are its peppers.

Philip Reedy was surprised by the bright color to be found in his neighborhood on a weekend walk, exclaiming, “There’s still color!”

He found Flowering pear and American pepper carrying magenta and gold color.

  • Davis – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
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Pear Perfect in Healdsburg

Flowering pear, Healdsburg (12/7/19) Anson Davalos

Soon after non-Indians settled the Healdsburg area in the late 1850s, they found that anything grows in Sonoma County’s fertile soil.

Grapes, lumber and hops were Healdsburg’s biggest cash crops until The Volstead Act (Prohibition) eliminated commercial wine and beer making in 1919. Vineyards were then uprooted and replaced with orchards.

To replace the grapes and hops, French plums were planted in such abundance surrounding Healdsburg that the town became known as “the buckle of the prune belt.”

Plums became a huge profit crop, as prunes (dried plums) were a fruit that could be transported and had shelf life in an age when refrigeration wasn’t common.

Kelseyville, in neighboring Lake County, had a similar history, though its vineyards were replaced with pear orchards whose fruit was canned and also exported, earning Kelseyville the sobriquet, “pear capital of the world.”

Both towns began replacing orchards with vineyards, starting in the 1980s, as wine consumption increased and consumption of dried and canned fruit declined.

Colorful remnants of the region’s orchard days remain in downtown Healdsburg where pear trees (the flowering variety) line its streets. Color spotter Anson Davalos found them at peak this past weekend.

We know of no plums growing in Kelseyville, though pears remain an important product, especially when combined with wine, as noted in this Sunset magazine article.

  • Healdsburg, Sonoma County (105′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Pears
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Late Autumn Storms Pave Silicon Valley With Gold

Gingko biloba, Mountain View (12/5/19) Vishal Mishra

As if the Silicon Valley wasn’t already paved with gold, late autumn is truly paving its streets with golden gingko leaves.

Silicon Valley color spotter Vishal Mishra sends these images of Gingko biloba littering the streets of Mountain View with gold.

  • Mountain View – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
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Tujunga Canyon Gets Big

Big Tujunga Canyon, Sunland-Tujunga (12/7/19) Ken Lock

Big Tujunga Canyon is getting big above Sunland-Tujunga, reports Ken Lock.

Big Tujunga Canyon, Sunland-Tujunga (12/7/19) Ken Lock

The canyon is coursed by Big Tujunga Creek, a major Los Angeles County stream which drops from the upper San Gabriel Mountains to Big Tujunga Dam/Reservoir. Below the dam, the creek winds through the scenic canyon pictured here, then spills out of the mountains at Sunland-Tujunga and disappears into a San Fernando Valley aquifer.

Along the stream, a diverse riparian forest of winter deciduous trees flourishes, with Fremont and black cottonwood, western sycamore, bigleaf maple, blue elderberry, box elder, white alder, Southern California and Northern California black walnut, and velvet ash providing the color.

That diversity has painted the creek’s edges with green, lime, yellow and occasional spots of vermillion.

Big Tujunga Canyon, Sunland-Tujunga (12/7/19) Ken Lock
  • Big Tujunga Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
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Leafless Tree Identification

Gingko biloba, San Francisco (12/6/19) Friends of the Urban Forest

San Francisco’s Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) are “hedging bets,” this Sunday (love the pun), by leading a free walking tour of fall color remaining in San Francisco’s Mission District, regardless of predicted stormy weather.

Ben Carlson of FUF says the walk hopes to “catch the tail end of our fall colors, but on the other hand we’ll be talking about how to identify many of San Francisco’s most common deciduous species once they’ve lost their leaves altogether (looking for clues in twigs, bark, overall shape etc.).”

That’s a fascinating idea … a Leafless Tree Identification Tour. For me, it’s hard enough discerning one tree from another using their photographs, but take away the leaves? These FUF guys are good.

To participate, meet on Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. at 735 Dolores St. for the walk or CLICK HERE for more information.

Now, should you miss the walk, consider picking up a Green Christmas Tree from FUF. A $95 donation gets you a recyclable live tree to decorate. After the holidays, return the tree and it will be planted somewhere in San Francisco.

Ester goes home for the holidays, San Francisco (12/3/19) Friends of the Urban Forest

What’s pure fun about this program is that each tree has been given a name, not a number. In the above example, “Ester” (a fern pine, Afrocarpus gracilior) will be spending the holidays with her benefactor, then return to FUF to grace The City’s streets, thereafter.

For more about how to participate in this program and help green-up San Francisco’s urban forest, CLICK HERE.

  • Presidio, San Francisco – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT. And while you’re there, donate and borrow a living Christmas Tree to improve San Francisco’s urban forest.
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Out of this World

Vasquez Rocks (12/5/19) Allison Hastings

Nicknamed “Kirk’s Rock” for the many times it appeared in early episodes of the television series Star Trek, Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park in Agua Dulce (between Santa Clarita and Palmdale) is virtually out of this world when it comes to dramatic beauty and late fall color.

Allison Hastings scores a First Report for sending back photos of the hike she took with her dog there, today.

Most of the color comes from native Fremont cottonwood and western sycamore. Also in the area are bigleaf maple, black and blue elderberry, white alder, Southern California black walnut, chokecherry, California ash and various willows.

  • Vasquez Rocks, Agua Dulce – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Capitol Color

Capitol Park, Sacramento (12/3/19) Steve Arita

Today was the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the State Capitol in Sacramento, though it wasn’t the only tree at Capitol Park that was lit up with color.

Steve Arita was there this week and sends these images of late peak color. Sacramento’s neighborhoods are now past peak, though spots of bright color – as seen in Capitol Park – can still be found in this city of trees.

  • Capitol Park, Sacramento – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.