New York's leaf-peeping period will be short but vibrant

- The fall season is officially here and pretty soon the foliage across the tristate area will be ablaze color.

"You will be sure to see wonderful fall color," says Deanna Curtis, curator of woody plants, New York Botanical Garden.

The shortened daylight hours are the biggest influence. And Curtis says that the drop in night-time temperatures is also a factor.

"Cold nights are when you're starting to see the color change," Curtis says. "We've just had some of those colder nights. We're just starting to see some color at the garden."

Catch the color wave quickly, though. This leaf-peeping season is expected to be short one. A warm and very dry end to the summer season is to blame.

As of September 1, Central Park is reporting a little over a 2-inch rainfall deficit. For the year, we are about 8-1/2 inches below normal. That lack of moisture will influence the change of color in leaves this year.

"Some of the species that are particularly prone to drought stress may have leaves that are turning brown and falling," Curtis says. "But a lot of the trees that are retaining their leaves may have brighter colors because of a little bit of drought stress. So, the season may be brief, but brighter."

And some of those colors will be bright.

"This fall, because of the drought, we're expecting some really bright colors," Curtis says. "Some scarlets and oranges. The reds will be particularly brilliant this year."

However, a shift in our weather pattern could change that.

"If the weather turns overcast, and warmer, and wetter throughout fall, the colors will be a little muted," Curtis says.

Fortunately, the leaves are not the only place to find color.

"Here at the New York Botanical Garden, we have fall blooming perennials," Curtis says. "We have fruits that are ripening on our trees and shrubs that are brightly colored."

Peak color for the New York City area is expected in late October into early November. 

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