October 3, 2016
Excerpts from The Fall Color Guy

Colors have started appearing, almost as if someone had slowly turned up the color saturation on the forests, just like you can do with your digital photos or TV, and during the week, they have become gradually more noticeable. Although green is still the dominant color, we are finally seeing the beginnings of the color that attract all of us to the mountains at this time of the year.

However, we won’t see really wide-spread colors until the next weekend. So, if the weather holds as it has for the past week, with mornings getting down into the 40s and highs in the 70s, this should push forward the color development. As it’s been sunny also, that should bring out the red colors too, meaning we could be set up for a really good fall color season after all, despite the unusually warm and dry weather in August and September. For the next 10 days, the forecast is for highs in the 60s, lows in the 50s and then down to the 40s, possibly 30s at the higher elevations. I wish the morning lows were lower, but at least we’re heading toward ideal fall color weather.

The red maples in town continue to color up – the dominant variety colors from the top down, and we have dozens of trees with red tops and green bottoms, and that’s quite striking. The occasional maple and sourwood have started showing up in the woods too, plus birches, tulip poplars, and hickories are yellowing up now. Virginia creeper, a dominant vine in the southern Appalachians, turns a brilliant red color, and it is showing off now in places.

This coming week is the best time to check out the high elevations on the Parkway, as they peak earlier than lower elevations. The next two weekends will bookend the peak color season, although it could extend into the third week of October in the Boone/Blowing Rock area if the weather doesn’t get much colder. Warm weather tends to delay the onset of colors somewhat.

This week, and next weekend, are the times to check out the high elevations on the Parkway, from Mt. Mitchell, to Craggy Gardens, and Graveyard Fields, all the way to the highest point on the Parkway in the Balsams (at 6,000’). And don’t forget that the Parkway ends in the Smokies, and the drive up to Clingmans Dome is definitely worth it.

I’ll post photos to my Google drive location again, and you can view them here:

Happy Leaf Looking!!


September 21, 2016
Excerpts from The Fall Color Guy

“The weather in the mountains has been above normal in temperature and below normal in terms of rainfall. The NC Climate Office predicts drought will develop throughout the mountains this fall, especially near the Georgia border: (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/…/expert_as…/season_drought.png). The higher temperatures could slightly delay the onset of fall colors, but only by a few days, so I don’t think you’ll have to change your plans if you’ve already decided on which weekend or weekday that you’ll be coming up to the mountains. However, the drought could have more dramatic impacts, especially on the quality of the display.

One color that defines this time of year is yellow, due to the super abundance of goldenrods (Solidago sp.). There are several species here in the mountains, with some restricted to trails in the woods, and others to sunny locations along roadsides and in old-fields. They are at their peak flowering right now, and are beautiful in their own right, with the yellow flowers making a nice contrast to their dark green foliage. Note goldenrods do NOT make you sneeze, as their pollen is not what causes most people’s allergies at this time of the year. Rather, that is another plant, the giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida). So you can look at goldenrods without stress or discomfort!

Also blooming now are a variety of fall asters (Symphyotrichum sp.) which tend to grow along woodland edges in moist places. Often interspersed with them are gentians, with their deep blue, upright pointing flowers. These diminutive plants, often less than 6” tall, are nonetheless one of the most beautiful, not to mention unusual, flowers at this time of the year.

In conclusion, I predict that starting next weekend, we will start to see noticeable changes on the hillsides at the higher elevations, such as the summit of Grandfather and other high peaks here in the Southern Appalachians, and then it will begin moving downhill and the true fall leaf color season will get into gear! Remember, at an elevation of 3,000’ to about 4,500’, the peak will be early to mid-October, especially in mountains north of Asheville up to the Virginia border. Lower elevations will peak in late October, and below 2,000’, in early November even.”

Read more her: http://biology.appstate.edu/fall-colors/fall-color-report-week-september-18-2016




The much awaited fall color has started to peek in the Mitchell County area and more prominently in the higher elevations.  The ornamental red maples are starting to turn.  The ornamental sugar maples are just starting a few splashes of color yellow or orange on just a branch or two while the rest of the tree remains bright summer green. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is starting to turn its usual deep, burgundy red color. This common vine, which usually grows up tree trunks, can also be a nasty invasive in your garden, where it creeps along the ground (which probably gives the plant its name!) and grows over your shrubs and flowers. However, it does turn a beautiful color and when the tree leaves fall off the tree it is climbing, you get this interesting play of red against the dark gray trunk and deep blue sky. Quite beautiful, especially in the morning when the colors stand out the most.

excerpts from The Fall Color Guy.  Read more here http://biology.appstate.edu/fall-colors/fall-color-report-week-september-11-2016