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Take time out to enjoy fall color or plant a tree
This is a photo of deciduous trees changing color in the fall
Contact: Paul D. Ries, 503.945.7391
Cynthia Orlando, 503-945-7421
 
Right now, as the days shorten and nights grow cooler, Oregon's rural and urban forests are starting out on an amazing transformation. Whether we're hiking along a trail, driving through Oregon's back roads or enjoying a favorite city park, leaves of big leaf maple, red alder, vine maple and dogwood all catch our eye with their brilliant colors and hues.
 
Our state’s fall foliage may not be as well-known as New England's, but it’s spectacular nonetheless.  Although Oregon’s forests are primarily composed of coniferous or "evergreen" trees, our rural and urban forests including the "urban" forests found in our cities are all home to many of the kinds of deciduous trees we associate with fall color.  In fact, Oregon’s urban forests are home to more of the types of deciduous trees we associate with fall beauty. 
 
 

This is a photo in Maywood Park
Where are some of the best places to take in the sights of the season?
 
Great fall color can often be found in city parks or arboretums, so if you're in the neighborhood plan a visit to one of these destinations and enjoy the changing seasons.  In Silverton, the Oregon Garden is a showcase for thousands of plants in more than 20 specialty gardens, plus water features, wetlands, a conifer garden, and the 400 – year old Signature Oak.
 
In the Portland area, try Hoyt Arboretum to experience a 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, Hoyt Arboretum is a great place to take kids. In the Eugene-Springfield area, try Lane County's Mt Pisgah Arboretum - a 209-acre "living tree museum" bordering the coast fork of the Willamette River, located east of I-5 and just south of Eugene. 
 
Lithia Park in Ashland and college campuses such as Oregon State University in Corvallis and Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande are also great places to experience fall color splendor.
 

This is a photo of deciduous trees chancing color in the fall
Cool nights, dry days make for best colors
 
This time of year often generates questions from adults and children alike, questions such as "Why do leaves change color, anyway?" Urban Forester Paul Ries with the Oregon Department of Forestry has answers.
 
"The leaves of deciduous trees change color each fall due to a combination of environmental factors," says Ries. "During the summer months, a leaf is green because of 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. Cool nights combined with dry, bright sunny days make for the best colors. Although abundant fall rain and wind can shorten the fall color period, Oregon usually has a long fall color viewing period.
 
 

This is a photo of deciduous trees changing color in the fall
How trees benefit a community's economy
Throughout history, people have recognized that mature trees add beauty, like their fall colors, to our business districts, parks, and neighborhoods. Economically speaking, it's now known that trees are effective in attracting shoppers to areas of commerce, and that people will actually do more shopping in downtown areas where trees are present. What’s more, studies also show that the mere presence of trees increases property values.
 
What about tree planting? Thinking about adding some color to your property? For fall color in small places, consider paperbark maple for its brilliant, shiny scarlet leaves. For small to medium areas, take a look at Persian Parrotia (Parrotia persica) which can grow tall - but slowly - and has purple, yellow, orange, and sometimes even red leaves on the same tree at the same time.  For large spaces and yards, Scarlet oak makes a great addition to the landscape.
 
While the spring is always a good time to plant trees, the fall season is also conducive to tree planting. When planting a new tree, make sure the roots are covered. However, don't plant your tree too deeply. Instead, set it slightly above the level of the surrounding soil to allow for settling and increased soil drainage.
 
Also, don’t fertilize your tree after planting - wait until early spring to do this.  Do add four to six inches of mulch around the base of the tree.
 
Help a neighbor in need
While everyone enjoys fall color, many people do NOT enjoy the fall leaf drop. If there are seniors or others in your neighborhood that cannot rake up their leaves, consider offering to rake them up for them, or organize a leaf raking party to help out others. In these challenging times, it's important to show you care.

This is a photo of deciduous trees changing color in the fall
For more information about trees, tree care, and fall colors:
 
Trees and tree care:  
 
Fall color:
 
Urban forestry:
 
 
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