Sunshine could mean good news for fall colours in Peterborough area

Click to play video 'Sunshine is boosting some of this year’s fall colours' Sunshine is boosting some of this year’s fall colours
Fall officially arrived earlier this week and with it the start of the seasonal display of fall colours. On this edition of Out & About , Global Peterborough's Caley Bedore talks to the experts to find out what’s behind the change, what to look for and if this will be a good year for viewing. – Sep 24, 2020

Fall has officially arrived and with it, the annual return of fall colours. And we could be in for quite a display.

That’s according to Peterborough-based naturalist and environmental author Drew Monkman.

“The sunshine we have had in September could really boost the red hues,” said Monkman. “The more sun you get in the fall, without a deep freeze or a heavy frost, the better the reds are going to be.”

Read more: Your photos — B.C. awash with fall colours

Monkman said sugar maples are one of the first trees to don their signature seasonal hues, but there are a number of other varieties to watch out for this time of year as well.

“There are so many players in the colour parade,” he said. “The sumac and Virginia creeper vine are great this time of year. Even poison ivy changes to a beautiful colour in the fall.”

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Monkman said that while the reds should put on a show this year, we might also notice some early leaf drop.

“Some of the trees are looking a bit sparse,” said Monkman. “The lack of rain we had in the spring could be contributing to that — the trees are a bit stressed.”

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Monkman said that in Ontario, the leaves are basically on schedule for the change, peaking in late September in northern Ontario and the Algonquin area. You can find a viewing map here with details on where the leaves are changing.

“What is happening is the chlorophyll (which makes the leaves green) is breaking down,” said Monkman. “As that happens, the true colour of the leaf appears as the chlorophyll disappears.”

Peterborough and the Kawarthas typically draws a number of leaf tourists to the region, but this year tourism officials are encouraging people to discover leaves locally.

“Each year we see a lot of people from all over southern Ontario, eager to explore the region,” said Jaimie Eastabrook, visitor experience officer for Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism. “This year, with the ongoing pandemic, we are encouraging people to explore what is in their own backyard.”

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Read more: Leaf peeping — it’s a thing and it’s not too late to do it

Eastabrook said the tourism office has a number of local driving tours mapped out here.

“There are a number of ways to see the region while still keeping your distance,” said Eastabrook. “If you don’t want to drive, there are walking and cycling trails or, for another perspective, you could even go by canoe.”

And there is still time to take in the sights. Monkman said the colours are just beginning. Next up, you can watch for the birch and the aspens at the end of October changing to their vibrant yellows and in late October and early November, the oaks take over the show.