As the Muskoka chairs are put back into storage, children are back at school and the evenings get cooler, the feeling of fall is in the air. Though the summer months bring us long days full of bright sunshine, warm beaches and sand between the toes, the fall also has a lot to offer. In this rural area, we are blessed with farmers’ markets overflowing with bountiful harvest and scenic landscapes that truly encapsulate the beauty of fall.Driving through Beaver Valley in September and October is absolutely breathtaking as the hills provide an opportunity to view the trees that are taking onrich shades of yellow, orange and red. But have you ever wondered why the leaves change colours as the summer ends and winter slowly approaches?To understand why this process occurs, we first must understand the science behind leaves. During the growing season, leavescontain chlorophyll (green) and carotenoid (yellow/orange) pigments.
It is evident that during the spring and summer months the colour green is the most prominent. This is because chlorophyll is responsible for photosynthesis which produces energy for plants. Carotenoid pigments are yellow, orange and brown and are present throughout the growing season. However, chlorophyll masks these pigments during the summer months. As chlorophyll levels decrease the carotenoid pigments seep through, revealing beautiful shades of yellow and orange.Oftentimes leaves take on a majestic red or purple hue. The anthocyanin (red coloured) pigments are not present all year, as they are only exposed during the cool nights and bright days of fall. Leaves turn red or purple when there is a significant increase in sugar concentrations.It is no coincidence that the temperature drops significantly, the darkness arrives a little sooner and the leaves change colour all at once. The gradual decline in temperature during the early fall months plays a minor role in causing the leaves to change colour. Furthermore, the most important factor in the changing colour of leaves is caused by shortened daylight hours. Light regulates chlorophyll, meaning that when days are shorter the chlorophyll levels diminish. Due to the decreased amount of sunlight, the leaves start shutting down which triggers an alteration in appearance.In early September, the leaves slowly begin to change colour. Some of the leaves lose green shades earlier than others based on their stress levels. The amount of stress that trees experience is typically caused by too little or too much water.
As of early October, 50% of the colour change has occurred in the Collingwood area. One of the nicest areas to witness the coming of fall is the breathtaking lookout by the Scenic Caves. Beaver Valley has up to 90% colour change in early October that is easy to enjoy when traveling up the steep slopes of the local roads. The view from Old Baldy allows you to fully appreciate the magnitude of the leaves changing colour in this area. Take a moment this fall to experience the beautiful shades of fall in your local area. Whether you are embarking on an ambitious hike up Old Baldy or simply going on a weekend drive, it is important to savour every moment of this colourful season.