Recycled Christmas Trees

Green Christmas Tree, San Francisco (2018) Friends of the Urban Forest

Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) is providing San Franciscans with a way to bring seasonal cheer into their homes, while supporting the planting of trees throughout The City.

In partnership with the San Francisco Department of the Environment and Hayes Valley Art Works, Friends of the Urban Forest offers living, potted Christmas trees in November and December, each year.

A tax-deductible donation ($75 early bird and $95 after December 1), provides rental of a three-to-six-foot-tall, non-traditional living tree to bring home for decoration and enjoyment. 

After the holidays, trees returned to FUF are planted in San Francisco as part of the organization’s Neighborhood Tree Planting program.

Popular choices include PrimroseFruitless Olive, and Fern Pine. Unfortunately, deciduous trees aren’t used in the program, as they’ve dropped their leaves, though anything that gets more trees planted in our cities is good for the air and the spirit … including the Christmas spirit. 

To learn more about FUF’s Green Christmas Tree program, CLICK HERE

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LAte Start

Moonlight Forest Display, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia (11/27/18) Frank McDonough

The LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden seems to be having a LAte start this autumn, though December is always when LA shows its best.

A colorful addition this autumn/winter season is Moonlight Forest, a display of magical lanterns that will glow at The Arboretum, Wed. – Sun. nights until Jan. 6.

Most of the color to be seen at The Arboretum is happening at night, right now. Though color spotter Frank McDonough sends this portfolio of what fall color is now appearing in the garden. 

  • LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) GO NOW!
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Forest Bathing at Berkeley

Beautyberries, Callicarpa americana, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (11/24/18) Sandy Steinman

On Wednesday (Nov. 28), Hana Lee Goldin, a certified forest bathing guide, will offer a series of “guided invitations to assist you in finding your own authentic way of interacting with the land at UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley.” For more info or to register, CLICK HERE.

That’s a very Berkeley way of saying that she’ll be introducing visitors to forest bathing.

Called “shinrin yoku” in Japan where it was defined, forest bathing helps reduce stress and improve cognition and emotional well being. It involves slowing down and opening up one’s senses to the beauty around us. 

East bay naturalist Sandy Steinman did a bit of forest bathing of his own, Saturday, as a light rain wet the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Here are his images. 


Nights of the Jack (10/26/18) Kathy Jonokuchi

Nights of the Jack (10/26/18) Kathy Jonokuchi

Nights of the Jack (10/26/18) Kathy Jonokuchi

Jack-O’-Lanterns used to be simple: triangle eyes, a crooked smile and candle inside.

No more.

Halloween has become a major holiday, not just a silly night of revelry. And, Jack-O’-Lanterns are a big deal.

Southern California color spotter Kathy Jonokuchi alerted us to what’s happening at King Gillette Ranch In Calabasas.

She was there to see Nights of the Jacka festival that celebrates the Jack-O’-Lantern.

It features thousands of hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins carved as dinosaurs, sharks, celebrities and things that go bump in the night.

Look carefully. What you see are Jack-O’-Lanterns carved from pumpkins, but in all sorts of fantastic forms … another form of fall color seen only at California’s Nights of the Jack.

Designer Jack-O’-Lanterns (10/27/18) John Poimiroo

For those lacking time or the talent to carve a creative Jack-O’-Lantern, Target sells plastic re-useable pumpkins pre-carved and painted in many shades of designer colors … more fall color.

Of course, you can always carve a pumpkin, light a candle inside it and enjoy the orange glow of a traditional Jack-O’-Lantern, crooked smile and all. Or, just marvel at the orange glow of a rising October moon, as Kathy did. 

Designer Jack-O’-Lanterns (10/27/18) John Poimiroo

Nights of the Jack (10/26/18) Kathy Jonokuchi

Designer Jack-O’-Lanterns (10/27/18) John Poimiroo

Nights of the Jack (10/26/18) Kathy Jonokuchi

October moon (10/26/18) Kathy Jonokuchi




Mammoth Autumn Events Planned

Aspen, Rock Creek Canyon (9/13/18) Josh Wray/Mammoth Lakes Tourism

The Town of Mammoth Lakes’ plans for fall festivals is absolutely Woolly! Here’s what’s ahead:

For more about what’s happening in Mammoth Lakes, download a Mammoth Lakes Visitor Guide or view the online Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide

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Eastern Sierra Photo Jamboree This Weekend

An Eastern Sierra Photography Jamboree will provide photographers opportunities for recognition, exposure and cash prizes this weekend in the Bridgeport Valley.

The photo exhibit/contest is open to all amateur and professional photographers with $200, $100 and $50 prizes presented for the top three framed entries in these categories: Bodie, Ranching and Western Life, Wildlife, Hunting & Fishing, and Nature & Landscape photography. A $15 entry fee applies.

The Photo Jamboree is the first of a half-dozen fun events happening this autumn in Mono County, including:

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Parade of Roses and Autumn

Tournament of Roses, Pasadena (1/1/18) Frank McDonough

Tournament of Roses, Pasadena (1/1/18) Frank McDonough

Each New Year’s Day, the world marvels at the amazing floral floats made for the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena.

What often isn’t seen in the worldwide coverage of the parade is the lingering fall color to be seen along the streets of Pasadena.

Los Angeles County color spotter Frank McDonough captured some of it and shares it with us.

Pasadena – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

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Fall Color Run

Gilman St., Berkeley (11/18/17) Sandy Steinman

Marathoners passed Peak fall color on their route along historic Telegraph Ave., through North Berkeley and the vibrant Fourth Street district, down Gilman Street, along the waterfront and back to downtown Berkeley this past weekend, while competing in the Berkeley Half Marathon.

Berkeley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Fall Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

California loves its farmer’s markets.

There are literally hundreds of them in the state, and they are found in just about any city of significant population.

Los Angeles has 30 farmer’s markets… some periodic, some permanent.

Although farmer’s markets can be enjoyed year-round here, they’re best in autumn.

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

Farmer’s Market, Nevada City (11/11/17) Robert Kermen

There’s just nothing quite as satisfying as exploring a farmer’s market’s booths and wares on a crisp autumn day. You walk the market in a cozy sweater and spend time leisurely chatting with the farmers, artists, authors and vendors.

Buying at a farmer’s market isn’t just about what you buy, it’s about the relationship you make with the person selling it.

Today, I bought three books, as birthday gifts, directly from the author, a writing instructor at the University of the Pacific.

I didn’t need a book review to know they might be something worth treasuring. His enthusiasm communicated that. You don’t get that on Amazon.com. Spending time at a farmer’s market gives you that and more.

Robert Kermen spent Veterans Day in Nevada City at its farmer’s market. The fall color in town was so-so, but the color to be seen at its farmer’s market was off the charts.

CLICK HERE for where to find farmer’s markets in California.


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Rainbow Season

Rainbow and Sandhill Cranes, Lodi (11/4/17) Crys Black

California is entering its rainbow season. It runs from autumn through springtime.

When storms are clearing, the best time to see rainbows is when the sun is behind you and you are looking toward rain or mist.

Color spotter Crys Black captured just such a moment at the Sandhill Crane festival (Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, west of Lodi) as sunset approached.

A storm had just departed and illuminated by sunset light in the moist sky were rainbows and Sandhill Cranes. The latter were returning to the reserve to spend the night safe from predators.

Rainbow season provides all sorts of moments in which to be inspired by nature’s beauty.