Foliage watch

Ski slopes in fall
Ski slopes in fall

Leaf tourists had better get moving. My unscientific observations, based on a weekend trip south of Buffalo, indicate that peak—at least around here—seems days, rather than weeks away. We were surrounded by red and gold during the drive down and back from Ellicottville, New York, which is ski central during the winter and foliage central during the fall. Except that fall just started a few days ago.

In the Eville woods
In the Eville woods

In Buffalo itself, trees are also turning rather quickly. This could be the result of a premature chill we had last week (sans frost), and I am sure that away from Lake Erie it was even colder. I don’t really know about the timing of the big leaf peeping regions in New England, but want to think that they are similarly accelerated. However, Yankee magazine has a playable foliage map that Huffington Post calls “ridiculously cool.” Check it out. (According to my interpretation of it, looks like there will be plenty to see in CT and MA through mid-October.)

The only place I’m not seeing the beautiful warm tones of chlorophyll breaking down is, of course, around my house, where the Norway maples rustle their dull, dark masses overhead. Those leaves will be descending upon us around Thanksgiving time. Damn them.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. East central Ohio is beginning to show color quickly. Friday road trip the trees had a touch of yellow. Went the same route Satueday and couldn’t believe how much more color there was.

  2. It’s odd – here in Sacramento I’ve noticed many trees changing colors in the last few weeks. Normally Fall doesn’t arrive here until late October. There have even been years when I still had leaves on the trees come New Year’s Day. We’ve certainly had no chills (unless you count temps in the high 50s as “chills”, and sadly, some Californians do). Instead, except for the last few days, we’ve been unseasonably warm. However … would the continuing drought cause trees to change early? Some trees, yes, are turning brown or losing leaves due to lack of water. But I’m seeing maples and sweet gums in the beginning stages of Fall splendor.

  3. The Finger Lakes region is getting colorful now. I drove down to Naples yesterday, in the Bristol Valley Ski area, and I judge that in about another week, it should be peak color like we haven’t seen here in many years. The maples are stunning this year – most of them are scarlet or blaze orange. It’s a good time of the year to have a birthday, and I love it when peak color and my birthday coincide. Looks like I’ll get lucky this year!

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