Ask Elaine: “Leaf Peeper” Opportunities

Dear Elaine,

The days are getting cooler and shorter.  I would like to know if there are “leaf peeper” opportunities in New Jersey, especially Laurelwood Arboretum, to enjoy fall foliage?

Thank you.

Dear Bill,

You do not have to go to New England to see colorful fall foliage. There is plenty to see in NJ and Laurelwood! And good for you for thinking “outside of the box” to consider plants with year-round beauty and interest — not just spring-blooms.

When day length shortens and temperatures drop, chlorophyll breaks down and leaves stop their food-making process (photosynthesis). Chlorophyll is the green pigment in leaves and is the site of photosynthesis. When the green pigment disappears, the other colors become more visible — carotenoid (yellow, orange and brown) and anthocyanin (red and purples) The best autumn colors come when there has been:

  • A warm, wet spring
  • A summer that’s not too hot or dry
  • A fall with plenty of warm sunny days and cool nights

Here are some tree suggestions to observe at Laurelwood or to add to your home landscape:

Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a deciduous conifer with orange-red fall color
Red maple (Acer rubrum) – bright scarlet
Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) – orange-red
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) – orange, red or crimson
Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboretum) – crimson and red-purple
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) – gold, orange and scarlet
Black tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) – yellow, orange and scarlet to red-purple
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) – orange, red and burgundy
Native dogwood (Cornus florida) – wine red
Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia) – yellow, orange and red
Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) – red
Red oak (Quercus rubra) or scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) – red to russet
Birch (Betula species) – mostly yellow
Gingko (Gingko biloba) – yellow

Soon there will be a multi-colored carpet of leaves in the garden. Gorgeous! Get ready for autumn!

Elaine Fogerty, Executive Director

Scroll to Top