Sunday, December 12, 2010

Looks like I didn't imagine it

Remember when I said we NEVER get color like this?  Well, I guess I exaggerated a little bit.  We do get color like that, just not very often.  The last time, according to our newspaper, was in 1990.

San Diego trees showing off their many colors

Friday, December 10, 2010 at 7:04 p.m.
Liquid amber trees on San Elijo Road leading into and out of San Elijo Hills show the effect of October’s rains and a surprising lack of Santa Ana Winds this fall blossoming with color not seen in decades.
Photo by Earnie Grafton
Colorful trees line Third Avenue in Chula Vista.
No one is mistaking San Diego County for Vermont, but the landscape this autumn has been especially well imbued with vibrant hues.  The weather has been just right to make the region’s few deciduous trees pop.
“The fall color this year has been phenomenal,” said Sean Peer, retail manager at El Plantio Nursery in Escondido. “It’s the best year since 1990-91.”
Vincent Lazaneo, an urban horticulture adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension, credits the weather this autumn — chilly nights and sunny days.
“Cool nights cause the chlorophyll in the leaves to break down the green pigment,” he said. “The reds and the yellows are already there, but you don’t see them until the green is gone.”
No rain has fallen in San Diego since Nov. 27. Temperatures dropped to the 30s or lower in much of the county Thanksgiving morning and the day after. Then another cold spell hit a few days later. The chill seemed to flip the color switch on the trees.
The roots of this year’s color show go back further, Peer said. Most deciduous trees seemed to appreciate the cool spring and summer, and a wet October kept the soil moist. That helped the trees handle an extreme heat wave in early November.
Another key factor was the lack of even moderate Santa Ana winds. Santa Anas can dry out the leaves and cause them to fall off early, before the reds, oranges and yellows have a chance to emerge.
Any stiff wind or rain now will quickly knock off the colorful leaves, and the heat forecast for Sunday probably won’t help. The coast is expected to reach the low 80s, and the inland valleys could climb to the upper 80s, which might accelerate the lovely leaves’ demise.
Until then, traditional landscape trees such as liquid ambers, crepe myrtles and Chinese pistaches will be particularly dazzling. Some trees that are often fairly muted in the fall, like apricot, pomegranate, pecan, pear and fruitless mulberry, are more vivid than ever.
“I’ve been driving all over the county today, and everywhere I look the color’s been great,” Mike Palat, an arborist and chairman of the San Diego Urban Forest Council, said Thursday.
Native black oaks in the mountains are well past their peak, but many sycamores and willows in creeks and arroyos are still flashing yellow.
Lazaneo said we should appreciate the colors while we can, because it may be many years before weather conditions come together again for a big splash.
Even with perfect conditions, San Diego County obviously will never match the maple-covered hillsides of New England.
“Deciduous trees do not like our weather,” said Shirley Larsen, a master gardener who leads tree tours in Balboa Park. “They like winter, and we don’t offer them much winter.”
This year, though, has offered a slice of fall, Southern California style.
“Occasionally, we do have seasons,” Peer said. “This year has shown us that.”
rob.krier@uniontrib.com; (619) 293-2241

6 comments:

George the Lad said...

Hi Darby and Pumpkin, like your new header, thanks for popping by my bloggie, I'd not forgot you, but you know how it is this time of year. You two like your running and playing games that's for sure, and the tree colours are lovely, there no leaves on them over here will have to wait for spring :(
See Yea George xxx

itsmebuddy said...

Doesn't nature have a way of showing the world beauty when it needs it! I love the picture and story! Thanks for sharing.
2bs

Boo's Mom said...

I sure did enjoy our unusually colorful Fall and am glad I took a lot of photos so I have proof that we do sometimes have seasons in Southern California! It is 84 outside right now. More like summer than late fall. Oh, well

Krystal said...

I need help, how did you make your cute header for your blog?

Boo's Mom said...

Krystal, I followed the directions this blogger so thoughtfully created: http://foothillhomecompanion.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-to-make-blog-header.html (But, I think your blog is lovely right now!)

Krystal said...

thanks for the compliment! But I'd love to have a personal banner like what you've got. Your girls are so darn cute.