New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » Foliage report for 3 Sept 2012
Fall foliage panoramic from a pond in New Hampshire

Greetings my leaf peeping friends! I’ve stated polling my friends in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and I just got a report from Bill out in Albany New York.

Fall foliage is like fireworks

Orange maple in Marblehead MA

Orange maple in Marblehead MA

Fireworks reaching a crescendo of color

Fireworks reaching a crescendo of color

Depending on where you are standing in New England, you have different signs of fall. I believe the areas that got a little more rain will be a bit behind the dryer areas. Basically if an area got less rain then the trees will be more stressed and earlier color.

The result will be early turning by some trees and others will start later. This is not at all unusual and in fact that is the way it normally works. It’s not unlike a 4th of July fireworks finale. In a good year our foliage is like a great fireworks display.  First a few bursts of color start and then more, until it builds to a crescendo of color and then it fades out.

The downside to this years drought

Here is the problem; if they start too early (brought on by stress) then it stretches out the arrival of peak color so you never get to that crescendo of color. Trees will just put on color and fade out, a little here and a little there. Also if there is enough drought, then the leaves may not stay up on the tree for long either. The worst case is way too much drought and they turn brown and drop.

This is happening with some trees now but I’m happy to say it’s not widespread.

The upside! Yes there is an upside…

The upside is that there will still be color all over the place it just may not be as concentrated as we hope for.

The foliage report for NH

I’ve talked to a few photographers and they tell me that so far it’s only a few trees here and there showing any color. One report comes from Scott of Scott Snyder Photography. “He says in his southern NH areas, he’s not seeing more than the odd leaf with color on southern NH trees”.

The foliage report for VT

Image of early color by Linda Baird-White Washington VT on Cyr road

I’m getting about the same reports from VT. Photographer Linda Baird-White of Vermont Perspectives,  says she got this shot a few days ago “but the color is very spotty, but it’s coming“. “Her usual rule of thumb for her area (Barre VT) is the end of the full third week in Sept, she starts doing some serious scouting for early vibrant signs”.

Jane Ogilvie of Green mountain photos, says in her neck of the woods (Middlebury VT), there are few if any swamp maples turning and just a little stressed color and some brown leaf drop.

Judy Lombardi of Golden Acres Photography says it’s a mixed bag with some turning, With some trees turning brown and dropping leaves. On Route 89 she saw definite swamp maple color starting.

Maine Report

John Burk of John Burk photography says he drove from the Berkshires of Massachusetts to Camden Maine. he says ”  I drove along the coast to Camden, Maine and saw just a few roadside ornamental’s with some early color this weekend. The sugar maples on the common have traces of color and healthy looking leaves, unlike last year at this time.

John Burk Photography

John Burk Photography-Bow Brook red maple-New Salem Massachusetts

The red maple swamps I’ve passed in central New England seem to be behind last year, when a number had good color Labor Day, possibly to high water stress from all the storms?  A few others have barren trees, that might have died after same.

Just got this in from John where he caught some swamp maple action near New Salem MA.

My take on this news

I would say that all things being equal, VT, NH and Maine (Based on these early reports) should have an outstanding year for fall foliage. I think for the most part they got just enough rain to concentrate the sugars (which should increase the brightness of the colors) But we’ll have to see it plays out in November.

I think that MA, CT, and RI are doing ok but I’m also hear that the Berkshires are as dry as eastern NY and the color may be more affected in western MA.. I’ll report back when I hear back from John Burk on his home area.

Report from NY

  • Bill Clarke who runs the Northeast foliage Network is a small farmer out in Albany NY and he says” the ash and willows are already turning and there is a fair bit of leaf drop so while the color may show early, it may not stick around”.
  • Also “he says some orchards have almost no apples this year due to the wacky weather this spring and drought this summer”.
  • “He doesn’t think that the colors will wait for the cooler temps in late Sept or early Oct that his area of NY”. usually arrives at before the foliage turns.

My Take…

I think the heavy drought areas are not going to have great color and if they do get color it may be more like pastels instead of the bright shades of red, yellow, and orange that we want to see… I hope I’m wrong… But overall I’m leaning towards a good season or in a few areas above average color. But you will have to search for those areas… 🙂

Jeff Foliage

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Jeff Foliage

My name is Jeff Folger,
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as:
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.

I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.
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Foliage report for 3 Sept 2012 — 17 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff, just found your website and I love it. I am planning a trip to NYC and Boston the first week of October. I was expecting to see the beautiful fall colors in the city but after some research i am not so sure. What do you think? Will we see fall make an appearance in Central Park and. Boston?

    • well I have to admit I’ve never been to New York City so I don’t know what kind of color inside the city you would get. You do have Central Park which could provide some color but I suspect you’re knocking to get much more than a few trees that early in October and you’d have to travel to upstate New York or at least an hour north of New York City.
      If you’re driving from New York City up to Boston you should see decent color on the way up there but it won’t be anywhere near peak that early in the month. I would say 10 to 25% color would be the best that you could do. Your best bet would be (again if driving) to jump off I-90 and take Route 7 North so that here in the higher elevations of the Berkshires and then drive east on Route 2 along the Mohawk trail until you get to Boston.
      If you’re flying then during your time in Boston there are lots of streets and small green areas that could provide a little bit of color. But in general Boston turns much later in October. Either way you’re visiting to fascinating cities with history, art, excitement to keep you going all day and into the night.
      I hope this helps.
      Jeff foliage

  2. We are planning a trip to the area September 25 – October 2nd. We start off our drive in Portland, ME, up through New Hampshire and the White Mountains with a stay in Woodstock, NH on to Montreal then back down to Burlington, VT. It will be my 1st trip to the area and I am looking forward to it. Anxiously hoping we’ll see some great color. We are from Houston where our seasons are hot, hotter and less hot and where most everything stays green year round. As a photographer, I am looking forward to the scenery!

    • Well Elaine, I think you’ll have a great time with the route. Although you should drive out of the color on the way to Montreal, that’s a great city to visit any time of the year. The ride back down to Burlington will most likely take you through St Albans (on the VT border) and it the color is early like some folks say, there should be some colorful working dairy farms to photograph. If you read this article on my routes and locations blog you could take this as a side trip and see a bunch of covered bridges…

      Jeff Foliage

  3. Hey, I am going to try to get some pics of the local foliage tomorrow. There is NOT alot but def some changing going on. Obviously the swamp maples but some other trees as well are showing color… Cranberry picking is going to start soon!!! Can’t wait!!
    IMO unless we have another “Irene” the foliage should be excellent in a lot of spots this year. We seem to be going into a great warm day/cool night cycle, at least here in Mass.

    • thanks Pam, I will add that into my fall foliage Outlook report for tomorrow! I assume you got your picture by now, I haven’t heard.

  4. Thanks Jeff for this great site. We’ll be in NH from Oct 12-15. Planning to visit White Mountains and drive through Kancamagus Hwy. Do you think Oct 12-15 will be peak colors in these areas? We are planning to stay in Concord. What other places in the vicinity do you recommend to see some great colors?

    • well I’m glad you’re enjoying the website and I think your three day trip will be very good for the white mountains although it may be fading a little bit by that time. Which is why it’s good if you’re staying near Concord.
      you see from Concord you can fly up 93 very quickly if the color slows down due to cloudy weather or rain (which is what happened last year) but also on a good note if the color is where it should be
      (and everybody gets quiet and leans forward to hear where the fall foliage should be)
      come on folks if I knew exactly when and where I’d be making a lot more money than I am right now 🙂
      Anyway, the color between the 12th and 15th of October is usually from the lakes region of Lake Winnipesaukee down through southern New Hampshire and also you can draw a line across into Vermont from Woodstock Vermont to southern Vermont. In Maine most of the Western and Central areas of Maine should be in high color by this time and you may even be able to extend the foliage line all the way down into mid-Massachusetts.
      so don’t write off the Kanc! a ride on the Kanka even with slightly fading color is a fabulous ride with beautiful views several rivers to stop at and a covered bridge (
      can you can drive up and down route 16 through Pinkham notch if the color is slow and take a ride down route 16 through Conway and Jackson New Hampshire (see the pumpkin people not to be missed for the family) and while you’re in that area head further south down 16 to Tamworth and explore that area as the low hills can really be very colorful with small farms and dirt roads to explore.
      I can keep going all night long here but since I don’t want to rewrite all the articles that I have written 🙂 please go and read some of my articles and take notes (lots of notes) and check the pages listed at the top of this page as there are a few on peak foliage and fall foliage in New England that have several locations and links to my other blogs where I may detail some locations for you to explore.
      Of course as always if you got questions, you know where to find me.
      Jeff Foliage

  5. Jeff, thanks so much for the great site!!
    We are really getting excited about our first trip to NE, mid-October & your info is very helpful!!

    • 🙂
      make sure you let us know where you went and what you saw. If you’d like to share some photos, you can go to my New England foliage Facebook page and post them there.
      I think everybody can post pictures to that page that go in and “like” the page. I can’t wait to hear how your trip went, where you went, and what you found

  6. Yesterday, Sept 3, in Winchester MA, we spotted a small isolated maple which had already fully turned and looked as though it was about to shed its leaves. I have a photo but don’t know how to get it to you.
    We have also seen two other large trees in the same town which have just started turning.

    • hi Max, I’ve explored having users able to upload to the website and is just too much chance of spammers doing something with it. But if you want to upload a picture to my New England foliage Facebook page go to this link:
      that way you can submit your picture there.
      I think what you’re pointing out is going to happen all over New England, and it’s not that unusual to be honest. As I read over my notes from past years always around August we start seeing a tree here or there with a branch, a crown, or the whole damn thing turning color. Unless the trees in your own backyard and you know for a fact that it’s been well watered and fertilized it doesn’t have any insect damage or any other reason that might stress it out, then it’s probably just stress.
      Are we in for an early turning this year, hmmmm… Maybe but I doubt we are going to see much more than a week earlier than normal. The one thing that’s going to throw off all the calculations is how dry was the area you’re looking at? If Winchester Mass. was a very dry area over the spring and summer than I’m thinking that (per my three September foliage Outlook) we may see in that area a general turning of color gradually over the next month or two. It’s likely that this particular area may not develop an explosion of color. But just gradually develop and fade.

      I could also be totally wrong and Winchester gets fantastic color. If this is your local area I would love to hear back on how the color in Winchester develops if it gets a true peak explosion of color and whether or not the color is really bright, just pastels (a little faded but there) or too many trees turn brown and drop leaves. Again if you want you can post images on the Facebook page or you can just leave updates here on the comments section or in the foliage forum you could start a topic on Winchester Mass. telling us all about the fall color you are seeing in that area (this presumes that that is your home grounds or stomping ground) your last name and e-mail address tend to make me think that your a visitor or a student but again I could be very wrong. 🙂

      • Thanks for your detailed response. I have now posted the photo I mentioned on your Facebook page. Winchester is not my home ground but I visit here several times each year. (I live on the Cape and Islands in MA). I photographed beautiful foliage here a couple of years ago in mid-October. I was told that last year it was even better. I am not really familiar with this year’s conditions in Winchester but it looks as though there has been a drought. (I am not a student but an alumni of London University). Between Oct 3 and 6 I will be visiting the White Mountains in NH with family hoping to see the Fall foliage there.

  7. Thank you so much for your updates. My husband and I are traveling to New England on October 4 – 11. We will first be in Ogunquit, Maine then on to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We did a similar trip last year and loved it so we can’t wait to go back. I’m glad the colors will be at least as good as last year.

    Here’s my question. Are the areas we are traveling suffering from drought this year?

    Thank you so much for all your updates!

    • Hi Lisa C., Just like every other part of the country New England has been touched by the drought. Lucky for us it hasn’t been near as bad. It’s very hard to determine from town to town whether they have been hit harder than others.
      I have seen watering bans in Hamilton MA but a few miles away here in Salem nothing.. In Amesbury they have their apples ready to pick right now instead of later in Sept to Oct.
      I know that the Berkshires of Mass have been hit harder than the rest of New England. I will keep my ears open for any areas being hit harder than others. I will then include this info in my updates.

      What you might do is call the places you plan to stay at and ask the owners. Of course don’t scare them by asking if you should cancel if the area is in drought… 🙂 But put it in terms of asking about nearby orchards and asking about how they are doing or even find out where they are and call them. If they are having a good crop then no drought.. but no crop or less than stellar… may mean they are hurting in the area.
      P.S. let me know also so I can check into it…

      Jeff Foliage

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