Could This Be The Best Year Ever For Fall Color?

Crepe Myrtle and Japanese Birch (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Crepe Myrtle and Japanese Birch (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Red Maple and Liquidambar (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Red Maple and Liquidambar (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Tulip Tree (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Tulip Tree (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Sticks on Fire (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Sticks on Fire (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Japanese Laquer Tree (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Japanese Laquer Tree (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Red Maple and Sweet Gum (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Red Maple and Sweet Gum (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Pin Oak (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Pin Oak (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Turtle Pond Path (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Turtle Pond Path (11/20/14) Frank McDonough

Looking back at the brilliant photographs of this past autumn, one is struck by the beauty.  It has been a glorious autumn and given California’s record drought, who would have thought it could be?

Color spotter Frank McDonough of the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens wonders whether the show is building to be their best, too.

He writes, “Color is still coming along nicely; our red maples just exploded and the Liquidambars are on track to look pretty good. If we don’t get a driving, leaf-stripping rain between now and Thanksgiving, it looks this week may be one of our best this year.”  Here’s the proof in photos he took, yesterday.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden (Near Peak 75-100%) – Red maple, liquidambar, sticks on fire, crepe myrtle, sweet gum, pin oak, persimmon and Japanese birch are full of color at the LA County Arboretum.  GO NOW!

 

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LA County Arboretum Near Peak

Chinaberry, LA County Arboretum (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Chinaberry, LA County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Southern California is not often thought of as having much fall color, though its mountains have a reasonably long show, its urban forests can have beautiful color (when the Santa Anas don’t blow) and each year we can count on the LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden to be the final celebrity to walk autumn’s red carpet.

In the mountains, color is now past peak in the Angeles National Forest, north of Los Angeles, though the San Bernardino National Forest, north of San Bernardino, still has nice pockets of peak color at lower elevations such as surrounding Lake Gregory. The San Jacinto Mountains near Mountain Center are peaking and the Mt. Laguna, Mt. Palomar and Julian areas vary from peak to past peak.

Color spotter Frank McDonough of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Garden is California Fall Color’s end-of-season reporter, the counter to Jared Smith’s early announcements from the Eastern Sierra.  Frank notes that “All around the Arboretum fall color is starting to subtly appear. The first yellowing signs of color are showing up on California grapes, Crepe myrtles and many others.

Eastern Redbud, Cercis Canadensis (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Eastern Redbud, Cercis Canadensis (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Sour Gum, Nyssa sylvatica (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Sour Gum, Nyssa sylvatica (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Pin oak, Quercus palustrus (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Pin oak, Quercus palustrus (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Jerusalem Thorn, Parkinsonia aculeata (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Jerusalem Thorn, Parkinsonia aculeata (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Autumn Blaze Maple, Acer xfreemanii (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

Autumn Blaze Maple, Acer xfreemanii (11/13/14) Frank McDonough

“Some trees, like Nyssa (the Tupelo) and certain maples are at their peak while most like Ginkgo biloba and the Pin oak are about halfway to brilliance.”

He wonders if this year “will be a ‘great one’? Hard to tell. Some conditions like low nighttime temperatures and high daytime temperatures have been present but others, especially moisture, have not.” 

This autumn occurs in the third year of a major drought.  So, such observations have been stated by others who noted drier leaves and short-lived color in specific areas.  Though overall (look back at this autumn’s photos for confirmation), the color has been bright and long-lasting. 

Drought seems not to have significantly diminished the show.  2014 compares well to other years for the brilliance and duration of California’s fall color.

LA County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (Near Peak 50-75%) – Frank’s report indicates it’s time to explore our state’s urban forests and arboretums.  At the LA County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens, sour gum, chinaberry, Jerusalem thorn, eastern redbud and maples are filling with yellow, golden, orange and crimson color. GO NOW!

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Brown is the New Orange ;)

Huge trees at the LA County Arboretum (see people in lower right) start to turn colorful (10/29/14) Frank McDonough

Huge trees at the LA County Arboretum (see people in lower right) start to turn colorful (10/29/14) Frank McDonough

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden (Patchy – 10 – 50%) – Color spotter Frank McDonough estimates the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is about a third of the way to peak, moving it from Just Starting to Patchy. McDonough said it’s hard to determine how the fall color will develop though, with an Emoji wink, he writes, “If brown is a fall color then it should be spectacular.”  The LA County Arboretum is a great place to see lots of trees at different stages of color change and is often the last reporting area of fall color in California.

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Good Advice, Great Sunsets!

Autumn Sunset, San Bernardino Mountains (10/19/14) Nick Barnhart

Autumn Sunset, San Bernardino Mountains (10/19/14) Nick Barnhart

The Los Angeles Times, took our advice and recommended trips this past weekend to the San Bernardino Mountains.  Turns out, it was good advice, as evidenced by the spectacular shot of Rim of the World (between Lake Gregory and Lake Arrowhead) that Nick Barnhart captured on Sunday.

CLICK HERE for a link to the LA Times’ article.

UPDATE: 10/22/14

Here’s another lovely sunset of the San Bernardino Mountains taken by Nick Barnhart last evening.  I have to ask after seeing Nick’s great photographs (and I’ve photographed sunsets in So. Calif.), “Why go to the beach?”

Running Springs (10/21/14) Nick Barnhart

Running Springs (10/21/14) Nick Barnhart

Horned Maple at LA Arboretum

Color spotter Frank McDonough of the LA County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens reports early color is appearing in the southland, as evidenced by his picture of the Acer Diablo (horned maple) with color beginning to tinge it’s edges.

Horned Maple (Acer diablo) 9/16/14 Frank McDonough

Horned Maple (Acer diablo) 9/16/14 Frank McDonough

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Early Color in Los Angeles

Liquidambar, South of West Hollywood in LA (8/12/14 - LA Leaf Peeper)

Liquidambar, South of West Hollywood in LA (8/12/14 – LA Leaf Peeper)

Wow!  One of our loyal followers (she calls herself LA Leaf Peeper) sends this photo of early color in Los Angeles, south of West Hollywood. It appears to be a liquidambar (sweet gum) that has begun to show color.  LA Leaf Peeper writes that these trees are glorious in November, so the early splash of red was a delightful mid-August surprise.

Spots of color change are happening now, as individual specimens turn earlier than expected.  The amount of light (a major trigger of color change) is relatively constant, so that’s not likely a factor, though water, weather and an individual tree or shrub’s genetic coding could most certainly contribute to a disposition for early change.  LA Leaf Peeper adds, humorously that at least, “The left tree still knows it is summer.”

Just Starting – Los Angeles – individual specimen trees are beginning to show color.

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Vibrant Fall Colors Enliven Southern California

LA County Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

LA County Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

Autumn is “winding down” at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, reports color spotter Frank McDonough, who sends these vibrant photographs.

Tule Pond, LA County Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

Tule Pond, LA County Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Pomagranate bush, Japanese maple, Gingko biloba "canopy" (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Pomagranate bush, Japanese maple, Gingko biloba “canopy” (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Mexican marigold, Tagetes lemmonii; Fishtail Ginkgo at the Herb Garden (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Mexican marigold, Tagetes lemmonii; Fishtail Ginkgo at the Herb Garden (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

Meadowbrook, LA Co. Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

Meadowbrook, LA Co. Arboretum (12/11/13) Frank McDonough

LA County has, along with most of the far west, experienced very cool nights (around freezing) and clear, sunny days, providing ideal conditions for leaf color development.   Frank writes, “I’m starting to see red leaves on some of the east coast oaks here, and our Diamyo oak (Quercus dentate) just might develop its full color –something that doesn’t happen often.”

The intense colors seen in these photos are the result of an incorrectly balanced white card in Frank’s camera – he apologizes for the mistake – though we find it to be a lovely interpretation and representative of how many California impressionists painted California landscapes.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Los Angeles County – This a spectacular time to see naturally decorated trees, during the holidays, at the LA County Arboretum.

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LA Lights Up Following Cooler Weather and Rain

California Wild Grape, Baldwin Lagoon, LA Co. Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

California Wild Grape, Baldwin Lagoon, LA Co. Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Colder temperatures and light rain have caused an intensification of color across Los Angeles County, as evidenced by these photos provided by Frank McDonough a botanical information consultant at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Gardens.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Los Angeles County – Reports from Southern California indicate perfect fall color conditions with crystal clear skies and bright color.

San Gabriel Mountains, seen from Talac Knoll (11/22/13)

San Gabriel Mountains, seen from Talac Knoll (11/22/13)

Gingko tree, near Rose Garden (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Gingko tree, near Rose Garden (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Crepe myrtle and Sumac at LA Co. Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Crepe myrtle and Sumac at LA Co. Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Los Angeles County Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

Los Angeles County Arboretum (11/22/13) Frank McDonough

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Warm, Dry Year Slows Southland Show

Pomegranate Bush and Japanese Maple (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

Pomegranate Bush and Japanese Maple (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

Color spotter Frank McDonough of the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens attributes a warm, dry year to “erratic” fall color.  That certainly could be the case, though the spots of color provided to us by Frank show bright and intense color at the Arboretum, so far.  Also, this week we received shots from Mt. Palomar that showed long-lasting color among the oaks.  We’re betting that LA County will continue to develop into December.

Eastern Red Oak, LA County Arboretum (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

Eastern Red Oak, LA County Arboretum (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

GO NOW! 50 – 75% – LA County Arboretum – Warm, dry weather has tricked the trees, causing them to show sporadically and late in Southern California.

Tulip tree, LA County Arboretum (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

Tulip tree, LA County Arboretum (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Flame leafed sumac and Nandina domestica (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

(l to r) Flame leafed sumac and Nandina domestica (11/14/13) Frank McDonough

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Hope Springs Eternal in So Cal

Black oak, Palomar Mountain State Park (11/9/13) Jim Beau

Black oak, Palomar Mountain State Park (11/9/13) Jim Beau

Pacific dogwood, Palomar Mountain State Park (11/9/13) Jim Beau

Pacific dogwood, Palomar Mountain State Park (11/9/13) Jim Beau

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Palomar Mountain State Park – Color spotter Jimbo reports from Southern California that black oaks are peaking at Palomar Mountain State Park, adding that a few dogwoods have also changed.  “Unless there’s a windstorm, they should last at least thru next weekend. Heck, I’ve seen a few of them with yellow leaves after the first snow in December.”

That’s the spirit, Jimbo.  So. Cal. holds our record for the best late fall color in California.  Because of California’s varied elevations and foliage, there isn’t another place in the good ole U.S. of A. that has a longer lasting or a more varied fall color season. Considering the stunning photos color spotters have shared this autumn, we challenge any state in the Union to show more variety or beauty.