Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Virginia fall foliage update

In the mountains of Virginia, fall’s colors have mellowed to shades of brown, and in many areas, leaves have already dropped.  This is the time of year to really appreciate the deep greens of our native conifers against the gray trunks of our deciduous trees.

Piedmont areas range from peak leaf season in the south to past peak in the north, with the landscape resembling a rich brocade fabric in tones of gold, rust and deep red.  

A drive east into the Coastal Plain still reveals a surprising intensity of color.  Shades of gold are broken by occasional oranges and subdued reds for a nice contrast.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fall foliage update

Fall colors are fading fast in the mountains of Virginia, with almost all areas past peak and many leaves turning brown and dropping. Lower elevations and those sheltered from wind still provide pockets of color.

This week, the Piedmont and Coastal Plain are ablaze with color, so it's a good time for a colorful drive east. Most of central Virginia is at or close to peak color, with gold to orange tones predominating. Oaks, which turn deep red to rust, vary from mostly green to fully colored.

In the Coastal Plain, the colors are more muted golds and yellows, but they are still lovely. Bright red sumacs and deep red dogwoods provide an especially pretty contrast along forest edges. Sweetgums provide an interesting palette of orange, red, purple, and gold, often on the same tree. Oaks in the east are still predominately green, but their deep jewel tones will be evident soon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

VDOF's Weekly Fall Foliage Report

The highest mountains of Southwest Virginia are past their peak colors, but the back roads still provide a pretty drive.  At this time, evergreens provide a welcome contrast to an overall landscape of yellow to brown, with a few deep reds still interspersed.

Skyline Drive and much of the Blue Ridge Parkway should be at or just past peak this coming weekend.  Lower elevations along the parkway are still approaching their best color.  Some of the early-turners have lost their leaves to recent winds, but maples are vibrant with red and orange, multiple species are decked in shades of yellow and gold, and oaks are showing rich deep tones.

Descending into the Piedmont, color changes range from 50 to 75%.  There is a good mix of shades, contrasting with deep green pines.  Oaks here are ranging from still green to deep red and orange-brown.  Farther east, colors are patchy but noticeable.  The best show in the East is still a couple of weeks away.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

VDOF's Weekly Fall Foliage Report

This fall color season is turning out to be one of the best in years! A look at foliage really emphasizes our state's diverse biogeography. Starting in the high mountain areas of southwestern Virginia, many areas have lost about half their leaves, with the rusty browns of oaks predominating among patches of remaining gold and red tones. As you travel north and east, and lower in elevation, trees are reaching their peak coloration. These areas include most of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Shenandoah Valley. This coming weekend should provide the year's best foliage viewing in those areas.

The Piedmont ranges from 50% to patchy, with great variety in color. Most notable are the hickories' brilliant gold tones, and the red maples' grading from yellow to orange to red. The predominant oaks lend subtlety to the palette, with their maroon to rich brown tones.
Eastern Virginia's trees are waving a few colorful leaves or branches, but the the overall color there is still green. Watch for changes soon in eastern oaks, maples, and sweet gums.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

VDOF's Weekly Fall Foliage Report

The mountains of Southwest Virginia are a riot of color this week, with peak intensity expected in many areas this weekend. A few of the highest mountain areas have already passed peak and lost some leaves to wind, but general views in this part of the state show at least 50% change.

The northern Blue Ridge in Virginia is also rapidly approaching its most amazing show, with color changes moving fast down into the valleys. Hickories have rich golden tones, which contrast nicely with the reds of maples. Most oaks are still green, although individual patches of oaks are showing deep reds and warm orange-browns.

The Piedmont's colors are still patchy, with significant changes in urban and roadside areas. Although green still dominates eastern Virginia, swampy areas are beginning to show their fall hues.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

VDOF's Weekly Fall Foliage Report

The forest color palette is changing quickly this week, especially in the mountains.  At higher elevations in southwest Virginia, red and yellow patches are becoming evident as maples, hickories, and yellow-poplars begin to turn.  Some areas are showing more than 25% change already.  In the Shenandoah Valley, the color line is slowly descending down the mountains, but still concentrated above 1500 feet in elevation.  In central and eastern Virginia, color change is evident in many roadside and yard trees, but green is still the dominant hue.  

In general, trees with greater exposure in any location are among the earliest changers and may even lose their leaves early if the weather is rainy or windy.  But don’t worry, the show is just getting started, and there are still billions of leaves left to change!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fall foliage report

The calendar may say it’s fall, but Virginia’s forests are still mostly green.   Nature’s big wardrobe change will soon begin in western and higher elevation areas and progress eastward.

Longer and cooler nights trigger changes in the pigments that give leaves their color.  Conditions that create the brightest fall colors include ample summer rainfall, followed by a fairly dry September with cool nights and sunny days.

This week, look for the early harbingers of fall - the yellow of tulip-poplars, bright reds of black gum and sumacs, and duller reds of dogwood and poison ivy can be seen in patches all over the state.  Trees that have been stressed over the summer may also change early, often with duller colors than usual.

For a simple explanation of why leaves change color, take a look at "Virginia in the Fall," a free online publication in the Education section of our website.