Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Freakishly Fabulous Fall Foliage November 10, 2008

I had been thinking the fall colors here in Seattle seemed more stunning than usual this year, and it turns out I was not wrong. Whenever there’s a noticeable change in how the plants behave, I start to worry and fret about global warming, but in this case it’s aprobably just a minor pattern shift, nothing to worry about.

Fiery fall leaves

The Seattle Weekly had a squib in their most recent issue about this local phenomenon, an unseasonably dry fall with warmer days and cooler nights than usual, plus fewer early-season windstorms to knock all that gorgeous foliage to the ground. Since there is no link to the article on the Weekly’s site, I will quote a portion of it here for those interested in the science behind fall leaf color beauty:

“The brightest foliage colors come when the nights are cool and the days are warm, explains atmospheric sciences professor Mark Stoelinga. This “diurnal effect” stimulates the chemical process that turns leaf color. Clouds, which we usually have plenty of this time of year, hamper this effect because they act like a blanket at night, stopping heat from radiating upward, and a barrier during the day, preventing the sun from permeating downward.”

Starting to turn

Of course, now that we’ve had a few of those wind storms, I’m regretting not having spent more time walking around looking at and taking pictures of all the lovely leaves. Oh well, even on the ground, they’re quite something.

Leaf carpet

Who knows when we’ll get a fall like this again, but I’m glad to have seen the beauty that it produced. Did anyone else notice any odd weather changes this autumn in your region?


10 Responses to “Freakishly Fabulous Fall Foliage”

  1. Thanks for the explanation!
    Fabulous colours in your photographs.
    The other Karen 😉

  2. That’s interesting information, Karen. I have noticed that the colors seem a little brighter in my part of the world this year, too.

    Of course, I thought it was just the election results…;-)

  3. Gail Says:

    A very similar experience here…beautiful though wasn’t it!

  4. Megan Says:

    So it was better than usual! I thought so too, but I wasn’t sure if I just noticed it more because I was paying better attention. I think we had the same weather down in Portland. Tomorrow that all comes to an end though. I’m not sure how many leaves will be left after an inch of rain in this little system that’s headed in.

  5. Katie Says:

    Our fall is about 2 weeks earlier than the last couple years, and I don’t think the colors are nearly as bright as usual. We have had more early rain/cloud cover, so that may be why.

    We still have a few weeks of color if all goes well.

  6. Fern Says:

    Beautiful! I love how your leaves are almost pastel, as opposed to the more in-your-face yellow/oranges and reds.

  7. Racquel Says:

    Thanks for the info, I didn’t know that this was the reasoning behind the leaf color change. We’ve had those exact weather conditions & I’ve noticed even more color this year than in years past. Those leaves are pretty even on the ground.

  8. easygardener Says:

    Thanks for the Interesting explanation. The leaves around here have been falling quite rapidly – there aren’t many bright reds around so it’s mostly green, yellow and brown. Very appropriate for our dull damp weather!

  9. jgh Says:

    So clouds affect leaf color??! Who knew??

  10. Absolutely this has been a freakish autumn. I’m not sure whether we had a record warm October here in San Diego, but I know LA had their warmest October since they began taking records. We had lots of plants that were showing brown, but that wasn’t autumn foliage as much as it was a reaction to the long chain of almost 90-degree days we had locally. I’m looking forward to something more season-appropriate!

    Your fallen leaves are beautiful. Makes we want to fly up there just to run through them and hear their soft noises underfoot!

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