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Norman Sperling
2625 Alcatraz Avenue #235
Berkeley, CA 94705-2702

cellphone 650 - 200 - 9211
eMail normsperling [at] gmail.com

Multiplying Fall Colors

© Norm Sperling, October 16, 2010

Fall colors are dappling most of the country. In parts of the Appalachians, Rockies, and Sierra, Fall colors are so impressive they're tourist destinations. A few colors can even be seen here in the perpetual-Spring climate around San Francisco.

Most areas can make a lot more of it than they do. Here's a cheap, easy way to turn Fall colors into a big attraction.

  • In your area, find the local experts (like the Agricultural Extension) who know which trees thrive there and don't have important negative factors.
  • Note which colors they turn in the Fall, and the dates they do that in your area. Those dates repeat pretty reliably, year in, year out, because they usually depend on decreasing day length, rather than weather. Note the blossom timing and colors in the Spring, too. Keeping a photo log for a couple of Falls is more fun – and more accurate – than copying experts’ data.
  • Design a sequence of tree-types that maximizes their color contrasts, and the length of time during which color contrasts persist. Assemble these as a mash up of your photo log.
  • Plant that sequence of trees in artful arrangements, with an eye to ongoing attractiveness over several decades of growth, in places where lots of people will appreciate them – perhaps a favorite park. Encourage the same thing for neighborhoods, spread over many neighbors' yards.

Planning this should only take a couple days. Saplings are cheap. Maintenance should cost scarcely more than whatever you were going to plant there anyway. Result: a very cheap, self-sustaining, long-time quality-of-life improvement.

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