Over the years the autumn season has been referred to by a number of different names such as Fall, Sweater Weather, Harvest Time, and/or Pumpkin Spice Season. But regardless of what we call it, fall provides everyone with cooler weather and a variety of color changes in the plants and trees all around us. The fall season also makes for an amazing background to our photos.

Have you ever stopped and wondered why trees and plants change color? What is it about the weather, the environment, and the surroundings that cause these changes in color?

The Yakima Area Arboretum’s Education Director, Garrett Brenden, explores the Arboretum grounds and explains these autumn changes in his 3-part informal walking series called Arboretum Autumn Walks. “My walks go over the triggers and mechanisms that can be seen throughout the collection in the fall.  Fall colors manifest themselves differently in the various tree varieties found on the grounds,” says Garrett.  Arboretum volunteer and second year attendee of the Arboretum’s Autumn Walks series, Lynni Serrata says, “Garret’s walks are so interesting.  I learn something new each time I go.  He points out things I never noticed before.”

Garrett’s 3-part walking series are spread out over 4 weeks, and even though the overall purpose of these walks is to better understand autumn and its changes, each walk has a different theme and subject matter.

  • 1st Walk: The Preamble of Color
    • The introduction to the processes of change, the leaf color and what trees do to prepare for winter while everything is still fairly green. People get a better idea of where to look and what to look for, as well as get a better understanding of the kind of climate and weather patterns needed to have a successful color season.
  • 2nd Walk: These Fruits & Nuts
    • The end of the growing season means a lot of the trees in the area and on grounds have produced fruits and nuts for reproduction. This is a time people would be able to catalogue all the different shapes, sizes, textures, colors and flavors of fruits and nuts that different plants provide.
  • 3rd Walk: The Last Colorful Hoorah
    • This walk will showcase the trees when we believe they are at their best for fall foliage. Deep reds, maroons, oranges, and golds fill our deciduous tree collections. “People can see that whole transition from the preamble, before it even started getting colorful, to the end where everything is in full color and people can fully enjoy the fall spectrum,” says Garrett.

Lynni says the third and final walk is her favorite. “You see all the colors and everything you’re looking at is just so beautiful.”

The Autumn Walks are designed and structured to allow people to revisit information they might already know and to also learn something new. “The informality of the walks… lends itself to having a larger group of people with varying degrees of knowledge,” says Garrett. “You can learn more about trees and get a little bit more of an appreciation of nature and how smart nature can be.”