Fall is my favourite season of the year. I love how the temperature drops slowly and gradually we are eased into winter. Spring happens so quickly here it seems that we almost go from winter to summer, but fall seems a more gradual process and delights us with such beauty. The display of colour varies so much from year to year, but the grand finale is always splendid.
I love it when you get the variations of green and red on the same tree, or even the same leaf. It is amazing that these various pigments were there all along but were previously concealed by green until the chlorophyll dies. During the summer the leaves are like little food factories with the chlorophyll absorbing energy from sunlight.
When daylight begins to shorten each day and temperatures drop, it triggers trees to start shutting down. The tree produces a special layer of cells between the leaf stem and branch to protect the tree from fungal or bacterial infection and that stops water and nutrients from coming into the leaf. This makes the chlorophyll die and without the green chlorophyll those beautiful fall colours begin to show. And, of course, eventually the leaves become so fragile that rain or wind blows them off the tree.
How colourful the leaves become depends on temperature, light and water. Low temperatures above freezing produces bright reds in maple trees, but an early frost will weaken the brilliant red colour. Wet or cloudy days tend to increase the intensity of fall colours, but I think you need a sunny day with a clear blue sky to see them at their best.
Different trees produce different colours in the fall. Birch trees produce yellow leaves, where as maples have those lovely red and orange colours. Oaks tend to just go brown in colour and they often don’t lose their leaves until new ones appear in the spring. We have a lot of evergreen trees, birch and oak at the cottage, with only a few maples, but the combination is beautiful in the fall.
It is amazing how in just one week the view and colour changes so much.
The bare white trunks of the birch are very dramatic in the fall. Once all those colourful leaves have dropped, it is lovely to still have those lovely white trunks amongst an otherwise green and brown background.