A burst of fall colors in the Ambler Arboretum

For fall foliage enthusiasts, 2017 has been a bit of a waiting game as trees throughout the region remained stubbornly green and temperatures stayed decidedly unlike fall.

Good things, however, come to those who wait.

"The expectation was that we would see typically good fall color in mid-October, which is usually the peak season for fall foliage in the region," said Ambler Arboretum of Temple University Director Kathy Salisbury. "This year, thanks to how warm it has been, we're seeing those vibrant fall colors in early November and will likely be able to enjoy them for the next couple of weeks."

How dazzling a display of fall colors a season brings is dependent on how cold the temperatures are in the fall — cold triggers the change — and how much moisture the trees and plants have received during the growing season, Salisbury said.

"There was so much moisture over the summer months this year that the trees remained green and held onto their leaves longer. The diversity of colors that we see is related to the diversity of species in the area and the weather," she said. "The colors that we see in the fall are always there but they are hidden by the green pigment known as chlorophyll. When the plant no longer needs the chlorophyll to make energy and is going dormant, that's when the other colors become more prominent."

Maples with their red, yellow and orange leaves (depending on the species); sweetgum's reds and purples; the maroon leaves of dogwoods and the vibrant oranges of witch hazels are some of the fall show stoppers the region is known for, Salibury said.

"Soil definitely plays a part in determining color. A sweetgum in one location might be red while in another it will be yellow or orange. There is a theory that dogwood leaves turn a rich maroon to alert birds and animals that the tree's berries are ripe," she said. "At the Ambler Arboretum, visitors can expect to be wowed by a wonderful tapestry of fall colors that starts right at the maples in our visitor's parking lot."

Salisbury said the Philip and Barbara Albright Winter Garden should not be missed with its "great assortment of trees and plants for anyone interested in fall color." Stewartia, witch hazel and Japanese maple are particular standouts, she said.

"For someone interested in fall photography, early morning or later afternoon are great times, but I think any time is truly wonderful for anyone with a camera in the Arboretum," she said. "Anyone can visit the Ambler Arboretum from dawn to dusk for free, seven days a week."

Guided tours of the Ambler Arboretum may be arranged by contacting Kathy Salisbury at 267-468-8400 or kathleen.salisbury@temple.edu. For the guided tour there is suggested minimum donation of $5 per person.

For self guided tours, large groups are asked to pre-register by contacting Kathy Salisbury with the number of people and contact information for the group.

Teachers: We encourage bringing your students here for directed learning. Pre-registration is required. Please contact Arboretum Director Kathy Salisbury, to discuss options and requirements.

To learn more about the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University, visit ambler.temple.edu/arboretum.