Fall Color Report

Post date: 08/28/2018
 The days are getting shorter and the mornings cooler. This past week, after a cold front moved in from the upper Midwest, our morning temperatures dropped to the low 50s and in some places as low as 45F! Perfect temperatures for getting the trees to start changing color.In Boone, some of the planted red maples (Acer rubrum) and burning bushes (Euonymous alata) are starting to develop their characteristic red coloration. Urban street trees generally turn earlier than trees in the forests outside town. This is most likely due to genetic selection for street trees that provide vivid fall...
Post date: 08/20/2018
We’re still officially in summer, and in some areas, this time of the year is often referred to as the dog days of summer. However, “officially”, the dog days run from July 3rd to August 11th and while it is hot out, we are past that end date. While we tend to associate late summer days with dogs purportedly going crazy from the heat, in fact, the term ‘dog days’ arises because these times coincide with the rising of the dog star, Sirius. In ancient times, this was associated with wars and disasters, but the modern meaning, as we know it, didn’t begin to come around until about 500 years ago...
Post date: 08/09/2018
Welcome back to another fall leaf color season! It’s been somewhat of a rough going these past two years, but hopefully things will turn around this year. So far, the weather is cooperating. We haven’t had extremely high temperatures, nor any serious droughts in the mountains. The latest climate report for NC is posted below from the NC Climate Office: (http://climate.ncsu.edu/climateblog?id=262&h=a71a1169).  I haven’t seen any signs of major diseases on trees, although this year the tent caterpillars are having quite a show, mainly on black cherry trees. You may have noticed their...
Post date: 10/30/2017
  Well folks, it’s been a wild ride this fall color season. Below I summarize my thoughts on the colors this year as well as inform you that this will be my last posting for the season. The colors have mostly moved downslope and out of the High Country and some of these areas now coloring up are a little far for me to get to (considering I have another job that actually pays me!). I’ve enjoyed posting fall color reports, meeting a few of you, and answering your questions as best I could. I hope everyone who came to the High Country had a pleasant experience and will think about...
Post date: 10/18/2017
 I took a drive today down to Chestoa Overlook, about 4 miles south of Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I then worked my way back north to Price Lake and Cone Manor in Blowing Rock. The take home message is this: the best color can be found starting at the Yonahlossee Overlook near Grandfather Mountain and on up north to the Rough Ridge Trail on the Parkway. Even so, it is not yet at peak. There is still a lot of green, which means that next weekend should be even better. And it’s supposed to get cool this week, which should hasten color development. Other areas, such...
Post date: 10/02/2017
 Today I had the pleasure of hiking to the top of Elk Knob State Park with Dave and Jan Crotts, long-time followers of my fall color prognostications. It was the first time we had met in person, and we had a very enjoyable and leisurely hike to the top. Because of the low humidity today, the air was clear and crisp, and we could see for miles and miles.So, what is the state of the leaves? In one word: green! The warm period last week really slowed down color development. However, the past two days the temperatures have been cool, with lows in Boone around 43 F, and highs only in the 60s...
Post date: 09/20/2017
 Well, today's activities makes me think of the poem Maud Muller, by John Greenleaf Whittier (http://www.bartleby.com/102/76.html), which contains these immortal words:For of all sad words of tongue or pen,The saddest are these: "It might have been!"So what 'might have been'? Well I was out scouting the leaves and encountered a closed Blue Ridge Parkway just up from Asheville about 7 miles, and had to turn around. The Parkway was closed for the next 20 miles until Park personnel can remove downed branches and trees from the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. This means I could not get to the...
Post date: 09/20/2017
 Yesterday I checked out Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area, just outside West Jefferson, NC in Ashe County. This is a really nice place to view fall leaf colors, and to just take in the spectacular views from the top. You can drive all the way to the parking lot there by the picnic pavilion and then head out on the main trail for about ¾ mile to the Luther Rock viewpoint. It's mostly level hiking, so it's an easy trip. There are several other trails that go off the main one, and they all loop back so you can't get lost.This area is dominated by red, black and chestnut oaks, along with red...
Post date: 09/20/2017
 Today was a beautiful day – clear blue skies, followed by a thin veneer of cirrus clouds later on, with comfortable, cool temperatures - perfect hiking weather. There were lots of people out on the trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway and at Grandfather Mountain State Park. I like to see people out experiencing nature – I overheard one young boy say that this was the best place he could remember. How great to hear something like that!I have posted photos that I took on my hike today. I found a new trail that I highly recommend – the Flat Rock Trail, about 3 miles south of Grandfather...
Post date: 08/21/2017
 Not much has changed yet. I did see a nice red maple in Foscoe, just south of Boone, where one branch has bright red leaves, what we call "flagging". Otherwise, my report from last week stands for this week too!I added in one more shot of a beautiful sunflower. How appropriate for today's eclipse. You can watch it streaming on the ASU website if you want.