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Fall leaves in full color: Chicago Botanic Garden shines bright in red, orange, yellow

Wednesday, October 03, 2012
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Fall leaves are exploding with color -- brilliant reds, oranges and golds -- as trees get ready for winter.Fall leaves are exploding with color -- brilliant reds, oranges and golds -- as trees get ready for winter.

It's prime leaf-peeping season at the Chicago Botanic Garden, located at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, Illinois (chicagobotanic.org).

"The ash trees are at peak this week. They're spectacular. The maples have begun, they're also looking very, very good," Boyce Tankersley, director of living plant documentation at Chicago Botanic Garden, said. "Yellow to apricot to pink, oranges, red with the sugar maples."

The oaks at the Chicago Botanic Garden, which was just named a top 10 great public space for 2012 by the American Planning Association, haven't started to change, but they are expected to turn in the next week.

"Because the species are spread out this year, [peaking] a little bit further apart, I think we'll have an extended fall color season," Tankersley said.

And those colors are mixing well with the other plants that are in season- asters and chrysanthemums.

"The native plants in the prairie, the blues and whites are just spectacular," Tankersley said.

Fall came abruptly to Chicago, with cold temperatures settling in at the end of September. But that didn't hurt those fabulous fall colors of red, orange and gold.

Fall colors are the result of trees and plants getting ready for winter. So when the temperatures drop, it signals it's time to go dormant, leaving the bright colors behind.

Throughout the summer, many areas across the Midwest experienced a severe drought that cut into fall harvests. Apples, sweet corn, and other crops withered away. Some hardy vegetation- like pumpkins- survived.

And the trees that kept their leaves are now showing them off- both inside and outside of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Tankersley suggests those looking who visit the gardens take a drive on 41 north of Lake Cook Road. He says the native plants are "just tremendous."

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