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Something to Crow About

Peacock, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (12/10.20) Frank McDonough

When you are the last beautiful entry in a glorious parade, you have something to strut and crow about.

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is that last entry. December is its peak. However, fall color has begun to rain upon the parade, as Past Peak approaches.

Throughout the arboretum, once-gloriously-colored trees are dropping their leaves. There is still beauty to be seen, for sure, but it is nearing its end.

Sarah’s Radiance Chinese pistache and gingko biloba retain the most color. Though, winter bloomers, such as South African red aloe, the happy trills of songbirds and sharp calls of peacocks are accenting the entertainment.

  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia (171′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It.
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Nearly Past Peak at Peters Canyon

Peters Canyon Regional Park, Irvine (12/6/20) Mark Hanning-Lee

Orange County was named for its citrus, not for its fall color. The south coast county is often the last to report and with little fall color. The best of it is found in the county’s regional parks where open space dominates.

Mark Hanning-Lee reports that willows and 76 varieties of meadow grasses are displaying autumn’s gold at Peters Canyon Regional Park in Irvine. They’re near peak, but the remaining winter deciduous color has peaked.

At peak, scattered Fremont and black cottonwood, western sycamore, blue elderberry, bigleaf maple, white alder, creek dogwood, Southern and Northern California black walnut, California and Velvet ash provide spots of fall color. Presently, the Lake Loop Trail is a wash of peak orange grasses and near peak willow.

  • Peters Canyon Regional Park, Irvine (683′) – Near Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It.
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Marin Coho Run Begins

Coho salmon, Lagunitas Creek (11/24/20) Marin Municipal Water District

The winter run of critically endangered Coho salmon is running late, the Turtle Island Restoration Network reports.

The largest run of coho salmon and steelhead trout to be seen occurs in Marin County along Lagunitas Creek, San Geronimo Creek, Olema Creek and several other tributaries. It continues through February with peak viewing now through January. Steelhead trout spawn later, ususally between January and March.

Some 300 to 700 of the salmon are expected to spawn this year, which is considered to be above average.

This winter’s run begins at Tomales Bay where the salmon enter freshwater streams. This year, however, the run is late as little rain has fallen. To see the salmon, visit the Leo T Cronin Salmon Viewing Area, operated by the Marin Municipal Water District in the town of Lagunitas.

Salmon can be seen spawning in the creek directly below the parking lot and at several locations upstream along fire road. For more information on seeing the coho salmon run, CLICK HERE.

  • Coho Salmon Run, Marin County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Out With A Bang

University Dr, UC Berkeley (12/5/20) Vishal Mishra

Class is out, but not yet fall color at UC Berkeley where Vishal Mishra found it still popping along University Drive. He reports the Bay Area nearing the end of autumn color, though it’s going out with a bang.

In Vishal’s hometown of Mountain View, neighborhoods along W. Middlefield Rd near San Veron Park remained full of yellow and orange color, this past weekend.

  • Berkeley (171′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It.
  • Mountain View – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It.
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Forest of Nisene Marks

The Forest of Nisene Marks SP, Aptos (12/4/20) Sam Reeves

The Forest of Nisene Marks in Aptos is an example of forest regeneration. 

Almost all of the redwood forest within the forest (south of Santa Cruz) “was clear-cut in a 40-year logging frenzy from 1883 to 1923,” explains California State Parks. “When the loggers left the Aptos Canyon, the forest began to heal itself; now, the scars grow fainter with each passing year. The Forest of Nisene Marks is a monument to forest regeneration and the future—it is a forest in a perpetual state of becoming.”

On a “First Report” visit this week, Sam Reeves found “still plenty of maple action everywhere on Aptos Creek.  The only challenge was the sun and shadows.  It was difficult to get a maple in full view without a big contrast range, but I found one exception on Aptos Creek Road.  A cloudy day would probably yield the best results.”

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park still retains fall color along both the road and the creek.  Sam observes that because “the canyon is wind protected from the normal northwest flow, so it should be good for another week.”

  • The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Aptos (164′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It.

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Just Keeps Rollin’

American River, Rancho Cordova (12/5/20) Steve Arita

Fall color just keeps rollin’ along the American River.

Yesterday morning, Sacramento color spotter Steve Arita visited Hagan Community Park in Rancho Cordova expecting to find nothing along the American River. Instead, rich orange, gold and red lined its banks.

Peak color speckles the Sacramento area, though most urban forest color has now fallen.

  • American River, Sacramento (30′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It.
  • Hagan Community Park, Rancho Cordova (72′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It.
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Late Harvest

Liquidambar, Hwy 116, Sonoma County (12/5/20) David Laurence Sharp

How sweet it is. The late harvest of fall color along the North Coast, that is.

David Laurence Sharp notes that just like a sweet Sauterne that is the last to be harvested, a boulevard of liquidambar (half way between Sebastopol and Graton along Hwy 116 in Sonoma County) takes “a long time … to change color completely. So, I wait and wait and wait. This year some of the trees had already lost some of their leaves.”

Napa Valley (11/28/20) Vishal Mishra

Vishal Mishra and Seema Bhatt spent the final days of November in the Napa Valley enjoying scenes of the autumn’s end, there.

Michelle and Ron Pontoni shadowed it along the streets of Arcata.

  • Sonoma County (108′) – Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Napa Valley (253′) – Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Arcata (23′) – Past Peak, You Missed It.
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One Left

Malibu Creek State Park (12/2/20) Elliot McGucken

One, lone, peaking sycamore remained at Malibu Creek State Park when Elliot McGucken – moved by its forlorn solitude – memorialized these last days of autumn, proving – as Philip Reedy demonstrated in the previous post – that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Malibu Creek State Park (450′) – Past Peak, You Missed It.
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Still Life

White alder, smooth whiteleaf manzanita, Upper Sacramento River, Conant (12/3/20) Philip Reedy

After these images arrived from the Upper Sacramento River, photographed by Philip Reedy, I accused him of transforming himself from a magazine cover photographer to a gallery photographer.

Oregon ash, Upper Sacramento River, Conant (12/3/20) Philip Reedy

Phil was out on one of his many trips scouting locations and photographing possible covers for fly fishing magazines.

White alder, Upper Sacramento River, Conant (12/3/20) Philip Reedy

Yet, he spent a few moments away from the river to notice these images of autumn waning.

Phil wrote, “I started at Sims Flat for the nice view of Mt Shasta, then on the Castella so see what remained of the colors along the river.  From there I hit Conant and there were a lot of gorgeous leaves along the railroad tracks.  The leaves were all on the ground at the Castle Crags picnic area, but they were fringed with frost and quite lovely.  

“Scott Embrey and I made the drive down to Ash Camp just below the dam on Lake McCloud.  I went mainly went to work on fly fishing pictures, but there were bright orange leaves on the ground everywhere.  This looks like it could be excellent in October, next year.”

The area is definitely past peak. Though, as is obvious from Phil’s photographs, even after the forest has dropped nearly all its leaves, there is still life to be found.

For those who must know, the uppermost photograph was taken by a Nikon D850, 1/40 sec at f16, ISO 200, 24-70mm f2.8 lens at 50mm.

  • Upper Sacramento River – Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • McCloud River – Past Peak, You Missed It.
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In the Warm California Sun

Crepe myrtle, Lagostroemia, Bauer Lawn, LA County Arboretum (12/2/20) Frank McDonough

To paraphrase The Ramones, even though the days are short and the nights are long, we’re still out there having fun in the warm California sun.

That’s especially true in Arcadia where cool nights and clear late autumn skies are letting that warm Southern California sun intensify fall color at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.

There, crepe myrtle and Chinese pistache continue to carry deep red and orange color. A canyon of glowing pencil cactus challenges anyone to pass through it cautiously and red aloe have deepened to their vermillion color and are pushing sepals up in advance of the New Year when hummingbirds will be attracted to their pagoda-like blooms.

Red aloe, Aloe cameronii, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens (12/2/20) Frank McDonough
  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!