Fall Out of Sync

Echinacea MistralOverall it has been a warm fall where I live, in New England. A couple weekends ago, it was in the 80s, and overall the temperatures have been in the 70s. It’s finally starting to cool down around here, with the weekend forecasted for the high 50s or low 60s.

There is no frost in sight, though in my location we usually have a frost by October 15. Moreover, most of the trees are still completely green!

I’m starting to think the leaves will just drop their leaves without turning color, and that we’ll pretty much skip “fall” and go straight to wintery weather. Fall is my favorite season, so the thought is a little disheartening.

On the bright side, we haven’t had to turn on the heat yet, I’ve been able to procrastinate switching the screens and storm windows and my fall plantings have had extra time to settle in. And there are a few things re-blooming in my garden, most noticeably my Coral Drift and Baby Love roses, and, pictured, Echinacea ‘Mistral’, to the delight of a bumblebee foraging on Oct. 18.

I don’t feel scientific enough to say this is “global warming” or “climate change,” but I am sure that this fall is warmer than those in the past. There are a lot of markers in fall that make me remember the weather—my birthday and several other family birthdays in October; putting away summer clothes; having to wear a parka over my Halloween costume as a child (so frustrating!); and more. I was talking to my mom about this and she mentioned how 20 years ago it was sometimes a struggle to make it to October 1 without turning on the heat. I haven’t gardened in this house long enough to judge the weather based on my plants, but fall foliage is definitely late/absent.

I would love to hear about your observations on the changing (or not changing) seasonal weather in your area and related differences you’ve seen in your garden. Do you still experience fall and spring, or are you afraid (like me) that the year is becoming winter/summer?

Oh and here’s an interesting blog post about the lack of fall color in New England. See “Unusual Fall Colors in New England,” by Dr. Paul Alaback, of Project BudBurst and the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation. His Project BudBurst colleague, Dr. Kayri Havens-Young, has also written a post explaining “Why Leaves Change Color.”

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11 thoughts on “Fall Out of Sync

  1. I live North of Atlanta, transplanted from N. Illinois, and have foundthis fall to be very unusual. We also suffered a drought in the summer with 100 degree days starting in May! My perennial “Miss Huff”Lantana didn’t come up until Sept. My crape Myrtles bloomed twice (summer and fall). The spring weeds, chickweed and henbit are having a hayday… Our night time temps have been ranging from low 30’s to high 50’s with 50 to 70’s during the day. Even though I’m a transplant, I’ve lived here 30 plus years but I’ve never seen anything like this. There’s a local saying if you don’t like the weather wait until tomorrow. I also thought the leaves would just fall off the trees due to the drought but it was quite pretty!

  2. ZONE 5, MICHIGAN HERE. Yesterday Nov. 2 it was 69 degrees, day before was 65. We have had several killing frosts, but this is very unusual. Hummingbirds were here 1 week longer than last year, last sighting here was Oct. 6. Definitely different weather this fall.

  3. I think the mild fall (and lack of frost so far) here in central Pennsylvania is just making up for the very late spring we had. It seems like the whole gardening season was just shifted a few weeks later into the year.

  4. Perfect fall here in Indianapolis, IN so far. Great color on the trees and the fall rains are right on cue. The leaves are dropping and I’m hopeful for one more warm spell to finish up last minute planting and cleanup.

  5. In Buffalo, MN, just NW of the twin cities it’s cold – 40’s today. Sept was unseasonably warm in 70 & 80’s, but no rain since mid-August. The trees turned gold and burnished reds in late Sept. but it’s been so windy the colors only lasted about a week. The oaks are slowly turning, with a lot of green still visible. Only a light frost in mid-Sept, however. Summer gardens were “iffy” & the honey from my husband’s bees is way down in production.

  6. I work in Northern Westchester NY and Westport CT area and I must say that the color this year is lacking and in Kew Gardens NY where I live it is practically none existent.
    As for the temperatures changing I have noticed that I can grow many more plants that are hardy in zone 7 in my zone 6. Like figs for instance and of course Crape Myrtles.
    The Last 3 years my Colocasia has returned without being pulled up, it’s true that it has a micro climate but I never imagined that it could.

  7. Hi Meghan –
    Love your editorials, very insightful. Here in Romeo, Michigan we got 10 days of 70 plus degrees a week ago but the leaves still changed colors. I feel that there is a global change in climate – we seem to be wetter and warmer here. Poor Texas! They may be experiencing a 10 year drought.

  8. We’ve had a warm fall too in Denver, Colorado. Although we had a 1″ snow on October 7th, this morning is our first frost at 27º. The 35º temps with snow earlier in the month helped cultivated trees develop nice fall color. – Dawn

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