In addition to a much-needed drop in temperature, fall brings an influx of gorgeous colors to our San Marcos trails. The green we see in leaves during the spring and summer comes from a chemical called chlorophyll, which uses sunlight to create fuel for the tree. During fall, shorter days and less sunlight signal trees to start prepping for winter. Just like bears and bumble bees hibernate, trees enter a restful state called dormancy to preserve energy. As a part of this process, trees stop producing chlorophyll, which causes the green to fade and brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds to pop. It’s the perfect time of year to take the family out for an adventure in nature and enjoy the fall color spectrum. On a hike you may see bright yellow leaves falling from a Cedar elm, rusty red leaves on Texas oaks, or giant auburn Sycamore leaves fluttering in a cool breeze. A fun family activity and great way to bring these beautiful colors to your home is to create a fall foliage garland! Follow the steps below to get started:
- Get outside on a San Marcos trail and collect 15-20 of your favorite fallen leaves. It’s best to get leaves that haven’t fully dried up yet (not crunchy) with the stems still attached.
- Bring your leaf assortment home and press them in or under a heavy book for a day. (I like to use a dictionary or a thesaurus.)
- Optional step: spray the fronts and backs of the leaves with clear acrylic paint to help them last longer.
- Lay out a 6-8-foot-long piece of ribbon that is at least an inch wide and spread your leaves evenly along the ribbon. The ends of the stems should be on top of the ribbon, but not sticking out above the top of the ribbon. Cream, plaid, olive green-, and orange-colored ribbons work great for this project, but you can use whatever color you like.
- Use a strong tape like duct tape or Gorilla tape to secure the leaf stems to the back of your ribbon.
- Flip your ribbon over and fasten it to the wall or mantel piece for some extra autumnal flare!
Written by Rachel Lincoln Seets, a member of the Outreach Committee.