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Why Leaves Change Color

Why Leaves Change Color
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Get ready: The forests around Basin Harbor Club are about to go a little psychedelic!

Hey, Vermont’s gorgeous year-round, but if there’s a quintessential season in New England it may just be autumn. Our fall foliage (as well as the north-of-the-border spectacle of Eastern Canada) just about takes the cake in terms of vibrancy: You won’t find better leaf-peeping anywhere on Earth!

Fall Colors at Basin Harbor Club

And here at Basin Harbor Club, you’ve got double the display, given Lake Champlain spectacularly reflects the blazing colors of its shoreline hardwoods. We’ve got an extended showcase, too, given our fall-color theater stretches from the local lakeside woods up to the high groves of the Adirondacks.

The Lowdown on Pigments

What exactly is behind New England’s polychromatic autumn? Well, the basic story’s this: As days begin to shorten and nights lengthen, our deciduous trees start shutting down their food-making engines. Their leaves stop producing chlorophyll, the pigments that both power photosynthesis and give foliage its green color, which therefore starts to fade.

Another class of leaf pigments called carotenoids are also being broken down and reabsorbed this time of year, but not as quickly as chlorophyll; their yellow color, no longer masked by chlorophyll’s green, starts coming through. So does the crimson of anthocyanins. And various proportions of the reds and yellows of those pigments paint the oranges and browns and purples that add such chromatic pizzazz to our Vermont forests this time of year.

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Other Ingredients

Why are New England’s fall colors so much bolder than those of basically any other corner of the planet? There are a lot of factors, including the very basic diversity of our forests, with maples, hickories, aspens, beeches, oaks, ashes, cherries, and other hardwoods contributing their own shades to the mix. But climate’s an important factor, too: The combination of warm, sunny days and crisp nights that make the Northeast’s autumns so lovely also bring out the richest palette.

The specifics of a given fall—the kinds of temperatures we’re dealing with, what sort of precipitation and storm action we’re seeing—ultimately determine the quality and duration of the autumn color extravaganza. But even a below-average Vermont fall serves up a bounty of beauty.

Keep tabs on the unveiling of the Green Mountain State’s autumnal awesomeness at this website, which provides regular updates on fall color.

And come celebrate the season at Basin Harbor Club, where you can goggle over glowing forests from an Adirondack chair, a canoe, a sailboat, or a hiking trail! It’s one magical time of year, no doubt about it…
Fall Specials & Packages Here!

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