Hello all, and welcome back to the Leaf Looker blog series! It is a great time to be in Western NC: fall is in full swing with cool temperatures and even a couple of snow flurries near Waynesville and the Pisgah National Forest. More importantly, the leafing scene is flourishing, vibrant as we reach roughly the peak of the leafing season. Though some areas experienced high winds that loosened leaves from their posts, most of the western area is still on schedule with leaves being in the moderate-peak color range. In fact, several comments and reports indicate that the leafing show in Western NC is one of the best seen in recent years!
In an October 19th report on the region for VisitNC.com, Dr. Howard Neufeld, aka Fall Color Guy, noted that “In the Cashiers/Highlands area, Jim Costa says the colors are ‘stunningly beautiful’ right now. The maples, especially the red maples, are a vibrant red and have never been as colorful as this year. They are highlighted by bright yellow buckeyes, birches and multicolored sassafras while sourwoods and sumacs accentuate those hues with their deep reds. Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is providing vivid red accents in people’s yards and along roads. The oaks are now adding deep burgundy, orange/reds and browns. This will be the peak week there, and the coming weekend should be excellent if you’re in these parts of the North Carolina mountains.” RomanticAsheville.com’s October 21st update indicates that fall color “is the best that we have seen in several years. Color is showing the most at the middle elevations (above 2,000-4,000 feet), with plenty of color down in the valleys as well. Color in highest elevations (above 4,000) is well past peak.”
As you can see from The Weather Channel’s October 19th assessment of leafing conditions in the state, we are likely at the peak of the season, so get as much out of this moment as you can! And bring a jacket, especially if you’re passing through the area this weekend, as weather forecasts for Cashiers predict temperatures in the upper 50s, lower 60s.
Taking the area’s current beauty into consideration, you might find yourself eager to indulge in a tribute to this year’s lovely fall showing. Or you just might be in the mood for crafts or staying indoors due to cooler temperatures. Here are a few ideas for leaf preservation, but have no doubt that various other nifty fall crafts abound! Also note that to carry out most of these methods you will need to have a variety of leaves, as some leaves will react better than others to the various external stimuli.
Many people are familiar with the wax paper method of preserving leaves or flowers, or have used it before. It is probably the simplest method of preservation and requires the least amount of preparation and grocery shopping. For wax paper pressing you’ll need wax paper, an iron, an ironing board, and a thin towel or paper in addition to your leaves. Place the leaf between the two pieces of wax paper and cover it with the towel. Press your iron directly on top of the stacked towel, paper, and leaves so that the wax seals together. Depending on the dryness of the leaf, this could take up to five minutes, but no less than two. Make sure to repeat the ironing process on both sides. Once this is done, you may cut around the leaf, leaving a small margin of wax to insure that it stays sealed, or you can attempt to peel the wax away. There is a variable rate of success for the latter, as it requires very diligent ironing/sealing.
If you’re up for more of a challenge, you might try glycerin or silica leaf preservation. These methods require a fair amount of attention and skill, and maybe an extra trip to the craft store. Check out homemadesimple.com to read in-depth instructions on these preservation methods.
That’s all for this week, folks! Join us again next week, and don’t forget to enter our Fall Foliage Contest online! Visit our Facebook Page for details.
Photographs are courtesy of Jerry Jaynes