Fooled By Fall Color Again!

November 27, 2016 | By | Comments (5)
october glory Fooled By Fall Color Again!

‘October Glory’ red maples. Photo: Steve Bender

When you go 70-plus days without rain, you have cause to expect the worst. “Fall color is going to [a verb that means greatly disappoint] this year!” I wailed. “All the leaves are gonna turn brown.” But once again, Mother Nature had other plans — one of many reasons I resent that tired, old biddy.

 By now, you’ve probably read articles online and in what used to be called “newspapers” about the conditions necessary for great fall color. Sunny summers with plenty of rain. Sunny autumns with moderate rain. Shortening autumn days. Cool autumn weather. Acid soil. The moon in the Seventh House. Well, after chasing fall color for 33 years at Southern Living, I’m here to tell you that the experts are no better than a box turtle at predicting when and where fall color will occur and how intense it will be.

dogwood Fooled By Fall Color Again!

Flowering dogwood in fall color. Photo: Steve Bender

Take a gander at the dogwood in our neighbor’s yard this week. Dogwoods are supposed to be one of the first trees to turn in fall, but this one waited until mid-November. It isn’t any special kind chosen for fall foliage either. He dug it out of the woods.

One thing I can say with certainty is that because of global warming, fall color is happening later. See those ‘October Glory’ read maples up top (one of the best trees for reliable scarlet fall foliage)? It didn’t peak until November 20 here in north-central Alabama. We should rename it ‘November Glory.’

Other trees have pleasantly surprised. Incandescent orange sugar maples. Burnished gold hickories. Blood-red black gums. Bright yellow tulip poplars. Russet-yellow willow oaks.

coral bark Fooled By Fall Color Again!

Coral-bark maples at Grumpy’s. Photo: Steve Bender

I have two observations to impart here. First, anyone who think they have a handle on fall color is a certified cretin. Second, no matter how bleak the autumn outlook, never give up hope. Sometimes hope’s a thing with feathers. Other times, it has leaves.



    Do you sell paper bush for how much?

    March 7, 2017 at 3:13 pm
  2. J. Susanna

    Jealous! I’ve seen the odd pretty tree peeking out from hidden places occasionally this fall, but in my neck of the woods the leaves mostly just turned brown and fell off. 😦

    December 2, 2016 at 9:06 am
  3. emr153

    I’ve seen some gorgeous red leaves on oaks this autumn! Normally they are yucky brown in the fall.

    November 30, 2016 at 10:54 pm
  4. Brynn

    We’re getting a lot of glorious color here finally, reds and yellows and oranges that aren’t just the dang fires. The crepe myrtles are outdoing everything though, gorgeous bursts of red everywhere!

    @Diane I don’t personally know, but I hope somebody here does, or at least can point you in the right direction!

    November 28, 2016 at 7:15 am
  5. Diane B Cook

    And…my guaranteed October Glory is yellow again. Somewhere, someone has to know why my five October Glories have all turned yellow in my yard. : (

    November 27, 2016 at 3:40 pm

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