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Last Fruit of the Season

Hawthorn, El Dorado Hills (10/18/18) John Poimiroo

Hawthorn (Crataegus), according to Celtic lore, embody contradictions.

Beautiful in springtime with their abundant white blossoms, Hawthorn produce bonny bouquets. Yet, their long, sharp thorns (a member of the rose family) and deathly smell when harvested, discouraged the Celts from picking them.

It became a bad omen to bring beautiful blooming branches of Hawthorn blossoms into a Celtic home, as when cut they smell like decaying flesh and were seen as an omen of death. The Celts believed the Hawthorn to be imbued with male energy, yet also stood as a symbol of female fertility … more duality.

In autumn, their branches hang heavy with bright red berries, attracting birds. The berries are long lasting, often into winter, are delicious fresh, dried, juiced, made into syrup, wine, jam or jelly and said to benefit the heart and circulation in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, as they are a diuretic (consult a physician before using for this purpose).

Though, their long thorns are so discouraging, that when planted in dense rows they are used as impenetrable fences for livestock or privacy.

In our yard is this Autumn Glory variety of tree that gets taller each year (they grow to 25′). Presently, it is carrying heavy bunches of fruit upon its thorny limbs.

Its dark-green, leathery leaves are showing the earliest signs of color change, with its edges now gilded. Eventually, green leaves will turn to gold and the tree’s fresh red fruit will wither.

Hawthorn is, of course, not native to California, but like the Celts, we love its beauty and fear its thorns.

  • Hawthorn, El Dorado Hills – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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East/West Redbud Debate

Western redbud, cercis occidentalis (11/10/17) Robert Kermen

Eastern redbud, cercis canadensis (11/7/17) John Poimiroo

When it comes to redbud, it’s debatable as to which is prettiest in autumn… East or West.

The eastern variety, cercis canadensis, displays bright gold and green heart-shaped leaves.

Whereas, western redbud, cercis occidentalis, display orange, red, gold and lime heart-shaped leaves.

Both are equally stunning.

Redbud is often overlooked by color spotters who give up looking for great fall color as soon as the forests of aspen have turned, but not Robert Kermen or me.

Robert found western redbud growing along Big Chico Creek in Chico’s Bidwell Park.

Cercis occidentalis are native to the Sierra and North Coast foothills. Native California indians used their barks for basket weaving and as a red dye. In springtime, their showy pink and magenta blossoms grow in clusters all over redbud shrubs that garnish foothill river canyons.

Western redbud, cercis occidentalis (11/10/17) Robert Kermen

Western redbud, cercis occidentalis (11/10/17) Robert Kermen

I have the pleasure of enjoying an Eastern redbud all year long. It grows in my side yard (El Dorado Hills) and provides an inspiring show when autumn light backlights the leaves in kelly green and yellow.

Eastern redbud are a popular landscape and street tree, appreciated for their shape, shade and autumn color (best from late October to early November).

Their heart-shaped leaves flutter in a soft autumn breeze, as if they’re beating.

OK, there’s no debate. East or West, who couldn’t love redbud with all they have to show?

Cercis Occidentalis Range – Wikipedia

Redbud – Peak (75-100%) – Their range forms an upside down fish hook, leading from the SF Bay Area north through wine country and the Redwood Highway, then bending east through Trinity County to the northern Sierra foothills, then south to the Southern Sierra. GO NOW!

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American River Reflections

Sycamore, American River, Lotus (10/21/17) Hari Reddy

In autumn, the American River is placid, unlike the surging stream it is in late spring and early summer. Sycamore, Frémont cottonwood and black oak cast golden, orange, yellow and lime reflections across its slow moving waters.

Lotus, near where gold was discovered in Coloma in 1848, is a popular put-in spot for rafters and kayakers, making the American the most popular whitewater rafting destination in California. Though in autumn, paddling is as quiet as the river.

American River, Lotus (722′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

El Dorado Hills (768′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Exotic Chinese pistache, sycamore, flowering plum and pears and native blue oaks planted along El Dorado Hills Blvd. are a mix of burgundy, auburn, crimson, yellow, orange, lime and buff.

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Another Great Autumn Sunset

Folsom Lake (11/8/16) John Poimiroo

Blue oak, Folsom Lake (11/8/16) John Poimiroo

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Urban Forest Exotics

Pacific dogwood (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Pacific dogwood (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Eastern redbud (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Eastern redbud (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Eastern redbud (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Eastern redbud (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As color descends throughout California, the bold stands of aspen have disappeared. The last remaining big show are the black oak, which continue to show orange color at elevations below 3,000′.

Oregon splitleaf birch (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Oregon splitleaf birch (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Pacific dogwood (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Pacific dogwood (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Color spotters turn to California’s urban forests for bright color, as I did this past week in my garden in El Dorado Hills (800′).

Chinese pistache (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Chinese pistache (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Chinese pistache (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

Chinese pistache (11/2/16) John Poimiroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There, Eastern redbud, Pacific dogwood, breeze-brushed Oregon splitleaf birch and Chinese pistache were backlit and beautiful.

Today, I head out on a search for more exotics showing color in Sacramento’s urban forest.

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

Clear
Monday
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High 79°/Low 50°
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Tuesday
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High 73°/Low 49°
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Wednesday
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High 75°/Low 51°
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Thursday
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High 79°/Low 53°
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Colorful Leaves to Holiday Lights

Blue oak, El Dorado Hills (12/8/15) John Poimiroo

Blue oak, El Dorado Hills (12/8/15) John Poimiroo

In December, California’s trees shift from being decorated with colorful leaves to holiday lights.

On this foggy, December night, the last remaining yellow and orange leaves on a blue oak in my yard were lit by flood light.

They glowed as bright as any Christmas tree, reminding me that though holiday displays are dazzling, hopeful and cheerful, even the best of them barely compare to the show we witnessed this autumn..

 

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Postcard: Peak, Peak, Peak, Peak, Peak

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

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A Walk in the Garden

Eastern redbud, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Eastern redbud, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Gardens are often full of nice autumn color. So, you may not need to drive very far to find it.

I took a 15 minute stroll through my garden this morning and captured these handheld images of autumn color in my yard.

Eastern redbud, Cercis canadensis, is a favorite garden tree of mine (not to be confused with western dogwood – a shrub). This tree is decorated with pink-lavender blossoms in springtime and yellow and lime heart-shaped leaves in autumn.

Western dogwood, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Western dogwood, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Chinese pistache, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Chinese pistache, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

 

Pacific dogwood, Cornus nuttallii,  carry cream-colored bracts in springtime. Their flowers are yellow-green pod clusters that turn into bright red “drupes” in autumn. Dogwood leaves turn from kelly green to shades of maroon, rose, pink and gold during fall.

Chinese pistache, Pistacia chinensis, and American sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua are the most popular fall color trees planted in California gardens, because of their irridescent rainbow colors.  Pistache is particularly fluorescent with brilliant yellow, lime, orange, red and auburn filling its branches for nearly a month of color. It is most dramatic when planted in clusters.

The strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, carries bright yellow, orange and red pods in autumn.

Japanese maple, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Japanese maple, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Oregon split-leaf birch, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Cut-leaf weeping birch, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Potted vine, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

Potted vine, El Dorado Hills (11/10/15) John Poimiroo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many subspecies of Japanese maple, Acer palmatum.  A deep red variety in my garden has bright red seed pods that spin and fly away when they drop from the tree.

Cut-leaf weeping birch, Betula pendula Dalecarlica,  have a delicately golden leaf that flutters and dangles.

A variety of climbing vines provide lovely color, texture and graphic form.

Even if you live in an apartment and don’t have a garden, nearby parks, botanic gardens and neighborhood gardens will be full of fall color upon closer look.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – El Dorado Hills (Sierra foothills suburb)

 

 

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Weekend Roundup: Snow and Glory

Narrow Gate Vineyards (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Narrow Gate Vineyards (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Pomegranates are the color of fall at Boa Vista in Apple Hill (10/30/14 John Poimiroo

Pomegranates are the color of fall at Boa Vista in Apple Hill (10/30/14 John Poimiroo

Grape tubs are full of rainfall at Narrow Gate Vineyards (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Grape tubs are full of rainfall at Narrow Gate Vineyards (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Counoise vines at Holly's Hill Winery (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Counoise vines at Holly’s Hill Winery (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Color spotters from around the state have sent reports on what’s showing as November and daylight saving time arrives.

Western El Dorado County (Near Peak 50 -75%) – The brilliant orange-red of exotic Chinese pistache is a show stopper along El Dorado Hills Boulevard and at all US 50 exits in Placerville.  Newtown Rd between Placerville and Pleasant Valley is a veritable canopy of yellow and lime bigleaf maple with occasional orange flushes of black oak. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the Gold Country, though has few turnouts, so you have to stop before or after you see the color to photograph it.  GO NOW!

Apple Hill (Near Peak 50-75%) – Apple orchards, fruit trees and vineyards are a blend of yellow, gold and green. GO NOW!

Sierra Foothills Wineries and Vineyards (Near Peak 75-100%) – Counoise and Grenache vineyards at Holly’s Hill and Narrow Gate wineries in the Pleasant Valley area south of Placerville are a mix of lime, yellow, orange and red.  GO NOW!

Beckstoffer Vineyards, Ukiah (10/29/14) Walter Gabler

Beckstoffer Vineyards, Ukiah (10/29/14) Walter Gabler

Ukiah Valley (Near Peak – 50-75%) – North coast color spotter Walter Gabler reports that Mendocino County vineyards are near peak in the Ukiah Valley. Vineyards tend to change by variety.  Because of this, it’s difficult to know which are peaking and which are progressing toward peak. Our advice, regarding all wineries, is to visit anytime from early October to mid November and there is likely to be color in their vineyards. GO NOW!

Monument Campground, Lake Camanche (10/30/14) Terry Willard

Monument Campground, Lake Camanche (10/30/14) Terry Willard

Lake Camanche (Near Peak 50 – 75%) – Colorful fremont cottonwood and exotic trees are reflected in the Monument Campgrounds trout pond, providing an idyllic setting for RVers. GO NOW!

Castle Crags State Park (10/30/14) Cory Poole

Castle Crags State Park (10/30/14) Cory Poole

Castle Crags State Park (Near Peak 50 – 75%) – Cory Poole posted this photo of Castle Crags State Park on California Fall Color’s Facebook page, showing how the color is developing in Shasta County. GO NOW!

Tilden Park, Berkeley  (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley  (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley  (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley (Patchy 10 – 50%) – Color spotty Sandy Steinman reports that fall color at East Bay Regional Parks’ Botanic Garden is mixed.  He writes there are no grand displays, but some nice color spots. Some decidous trees have peaked while other are still showing green.

Oakland Camp, Quincy (10/31/14) Mike Nellor

Oakland Camp, Quincy (10/31/14) Mike Nellor

Aspendell (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Aspendell (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

High Sierra (Peak 75 – 100%) – Three to six inches of snow fell in the High Sierra this weekend.  That’s a dusting of snow by Sierra standards.  Steve Wolfe and Mike Nellor captured snow and fall color in Inyo and Plumas Counties.  The combination of fall color and snow is dramatic and emotional, as seen in Mike’s shot of Oakland Camp.  This does not mean the fall color show has ended, only that it has moved to a different stage. GO NOW!

Owens Valley (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Owens Valley (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Owens Valley (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Owens Valley (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Owens Valley (Peak – 75 – 100%) – Color spotter Steve Wolfe – on departing the Eastern Sierra provided this last report on the Owens Valley, where rabbitbrush, willows and black cottonwood are peaking with gorgeous tones of orange, yellow and gold. GO NOW!

Switzer Falls Trail (11/1/14) Dan Riley

Switzer Falls Trail (11/1/14) Dan Riley

Switzer Falls Trail (11/1/14) Dan Riley

Switzer Falls Trail (11/1/14) Dan Riley

Switzer Falls (Past Peak) – Dan Riley sent these photos of: Switzer Falls in the Angeles National Forest.  The forest floor is orange with spent maple and black oak leaves. The Switzer Falls trail is an area from which we’ve not received photos, previously.  A tip for photographers – take pictures of places not seen on this site previously and you’re almost assured of getting them posted. YOU MISSED IT.

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Beauty Before The Storm

Chinese pistache (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Chinese pistache (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Northern California is braced for its first major storm of the coming winter. So, I took camera in hand this morning to photograph the exotic trees in my yard that are near peaking, to capture their beauty before the storm.

Chinese pistache (pistacia chinensis) is a slow-growing ornamental tree from China whose foliage turns day-glo orange to red with tones of yellow and green. Yesterday, I mentioned on Twitter that pistache have naturalized in Placerville.

Traveling through there on the way to Apple Hill, you see bright red balls of color at all of Placerville’s highway offramp areas.  It is evident that many of these pistache trees are volunteers that are now populating forests in and around Placerville, in the same way exotic pink flowering oleander are doing beside the Sacramento River between Redding and Shasta Dam.

Eastern Redbud (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Eastern Redbud (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Eastern redbud (cercis canadensis) are the fastest growing of redbuds and get 25 to 35 feet in height, according to the Sunset Western Garden Book.  We get many compliments about our redbud in all seasons, though particularly enjoy it now, when its large heart-shaped leaves turn yellow and are mixed with lime-colored brethren.

Red Oak (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Red Oak (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Red oak (quercus rubra) is native to the east U.S.  It’s a handsome tree in summer, magnificent in autumn, then carries brown leaves through winter.  This is lovely with a dusting of snow, though it’s not my favorite winter coat on an oak.

Strawberry Tree (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Strawberry Tree (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

The Strawberry Tree (arbutus menziesii) is a madrone whose autumn branches dangle with brilliant orange to red berries. They’re delicious to the eye only.

El Dorado Hills (Near Peak – 50-75%) – Gardens and landscaped boulevards are near peak at 1,000 feet in the western Sierra foothills. GO NOW!

Apple Hill (Near Peak – 50-75%) – Apple orchards and vineyards surrounding Camino are full of golden, orange and brown color. GO NOW!

Placerville (Peak – 75-100%) – Exotic Chinese pistache are brightly crimson along US 50. GO NOW!