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Experts: leaves will reveal true colors for Columbus Day weekend

September 29, 2010
The vibrant foliage we've come to expect each fall in the Lakes Region looks like it will hit its peak right on schedule for Columbus Day weekend.

Although it is hard to tell exactly what the Lakes Region will look like when the peak hits, the region always draws attention with its variety of trees and the surrounding lakes, which reflect the colorful images on the water and the essence of fall.

Extension forester of the UNH Cooperative Extension Karen Bennett said the different regions within New Hampshire tend to differ slightly in their peak foliage timetables from year to year, so it's is hard to say exactly what colors will pop up, and where.

She said an abundance of similar trees can make all the difference in the end, yet the Lakes Region has a variety, which makes for a picturesque view when driving on the freeway, zipping by on a train during a fall tour, or walking along the water.

"We have brilliant, resilient foliage in the state and the reason is for the many mixes of maples, sugar maples, and red maples," said Bennett. "The birches tend to be yellowish and the sugars are too, so this species adds a mix to the color palette."

Bennett said other parts of the country tend to have a heavier mix of oaks and trees that give off yellow hues, and usually cannot compare to New Hampshire's vibrant colors. She said she believes it is the maples in the area that make the overwhelming difference.

For the past 30 years that Bennett has lived in New England and the Lakes Region, she said the peak has almost always landed on Columbus Day weekend, plus or minus a few days.

"In the North Country the peak comes early, but in the central region the peak is a little better," said Bennett.

She explained that the appearance of the peak season in the Lakes Region this year depends on the weather weeks prior to the season, and the amount of sun shining down on the trees even during the peak.

"If it's a rainy and dark weekend it won't be as beautiful, yet if it's a great weekend with blue skies, it will be more brilliant. It also depends on the backdrop of the foliage," said Bennett. "We are hoping for nice weather."

Bennett said the surrounding lakes, the hill tops, and the abundant forests also add to the experience of viewing foliage in the Lakes Region. The leaves not only reflect off of the water, but pop out on the mountains as well, and while the color of the leaves doesn't physically change, the leaves do appear more vibrant with sunny skies.

"It gives people the experience of being outdoors, even when they're driving," said Bennett.

As of right now, according to the 2010 New Hampshire Foliage report on VisitNH.gov, the Lakes Region is just popping up with reds and oranges thanks to maples, sumacs, and "burning bushes."

Just as Bennett predicted, the report states that trees are expected to show off their boldest colors on Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 11, and throughout Columbus Day weekend.

Martin Lord Osman
Martin Lord & Osman
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