Oregon's urban fall color season beginning, with spectacular foliage into November


By Terry Richard

The eyes will soon be delighted with the arrival of Oregon's urban fall color season.

With most of the state's forests made up of evergreen trees, Oregon's showiest fall color is often found in non-native deciduous trees that have been planted in parks, arboretums, on college campuses, in formal gardens, along streets and in neighborhood yards.
By all means, venture out of the cities to see the native fall color, especially the cottonwoods of the river valleys, but keep an I peeled in the cities, too.

The Oregon Department of Forestry sends along this list of places to see spectacular fall color in Oregon:

Silverton: The Oregon Garden is a grand showcase for thousands of plants in more than 20 specialty gardens. The Oregon Garden also boasts water features, wetlands, a conifer garden and the 400 year-old Signature Oak.

Corvallis: Oregon State University's campus in Corvallis features fall beauty around every corner this month. There are some 5,000 trees on campus, and some 20 to 50 new trees are planted each year. The OSU Campus Tree Tour application for your phone or tablet is also available to download at the Apple App Store.

Portland: Try Hoyt Arboretum to check out its diverse collection of more than 8,000 trees and plants from around the world. This park-like setting includes some 187 acres with 21 trails covering 12 miles. Located just two miles from downtown Portland, it's a great place to take kids. The breathtaking Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, east of Portland, is also an excellent place to take in the beauty of the season's colors.

Eugene/Springfield: Take a walk through the University of Oregon campus where both native and non-native trees are showing fall color. Or, take a hike at Lane County's 209-acre Mount Pisgah Arboretum bordering the coast fork of the Willamette River; it's located east of I-5 and just south of Eugene. If you've never been there before, the arboretum's annual "Mushroom Festival" on Sunday, Oct. 26, might be the time to get acquainted.

Ashland: The city's 93-acre Lithia Park located off downtown is the perfect place to experience fall color splendor. The one-mile Woodland Trail, part of a 100-acre National Historic Site, offers much to photograph in a beautiful wooded setting.

Those places are just the opening salvo. Look for more fall color in Salem at Willamette University, in Bend at the many street trees planted in newer neighborhoods, the orchards of the Hood River Valley, the vineyards of the Willamette Valley and even on the Oregon coast, where a bigleaf maple accented against a blue sky within earshot of the crashing surf is one of the fall delights of Oregon.

What causes leaves to change color?  The forestry department has an answer:

This time of year often prompts both kids and adults to ask: "Why do leaves change color, anyway?" "The leaves of deciduous trees change color each fall due to a combination of environmental factors," explains Paul Ries, an urban forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry. "During summer months, a leaf is green because the tree is making chlorophyll through the process of photosynthesis." Ries says that as day length wanes in the fall and temperatures cool, photosynthesis begins to shut down, revealing "the natural color pigments of the leaves" _ what we know as fall colors. A series of dry days combined with cool nighttime temperatures is ideal to creating beautiful fall color, so each season is a bit unique from the next. And, although abundant fall rain and wind can shorten the fall color period, Oregon is lucky as it usually has a long fall color viewing period.
Fall color often lasts until just before Thanksgiving in western Oregon.

> Read the original report on OregonLive.com