Backwards Fall Foliage Starts In SoCal

Fall may not officially start until Tuesday, but it’s not too early to be seeing some of the traditional, colorful foliage that marks the season.

While in most of the real world that means green leaves turning red and gold, Southern California isn’t actually part of the real world (and there are days when we’re not even all that “real world adjacent”) so things happen a little differently here. There are some imported deciduous trees that do the normal green –> red and gold thing, but the native plants sometimes do it backwards. (Well, okay, the “native” plants are probably also imported, but they’re imported from some dry, desolate, desert location to Southern California, which despite all of the irrigation is a dry, desolate, and desert location.)

Contrary to the pattern of having leaves die and fall off, the holly bushes in our front yard start growing at this time of year, pushing out new leaves all over the place. What makes it colorful and somewhat lovely is that the new leaves are all a much paler shade of green, sometimes almost yellow or white, while the existing leaves are a dark, dark green. As the new leaves mature, they darken, but since they’re pushed out at different times by different branches, you end up with a wonderful spread of shades of green. Then, on close examination, you see some of the very young leaves, which are just opening up, showing a pinkish or purplish color.

Look, but don’t touch! Those points are sharp, the bane of my existence when it comes time to put Christmas lights on them.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flowers, Photography

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