Red. Orange. Yellow. Gold.

The brilliant cascade of colors that is the usual signature of autumn in these environs this year is a washout.


Part of the blame, according to Fairfield's tree warden, is fallout from Tropical Storm Irene.

"I think the salt spray we had from Irene dulled the color on the leaves, and it being a very wet year, that probably added to it," said Ken Placko.

That view of what contributed to the less-than-spectacular foliage is shared by Andy Puskas, Westport's tree warden, who said Irene "burned" the leaves of the sugar maples, the predominant tree in this area, and as a result they have either shed their brittle, brown leaves already or are showing only dull shades of the typically bright autumnal palette.

Placko and Puskas said a wet spring and summer hasn't helped matters. "If it's a dry year, the leaves will change quicker," Puskas said.

Nonetheless, the foliage in southwestern Connecticut has yet to reach its autumnal peak.

Hickory tree leaves are turning yellow, Norway maples will do the same over the next week, and oak and willow trees will change over the next two weeks, to burnt orange and yellow, respectively, according to Puskas.

"Give it time. It will happen," Placko said.