Chasing autumn leaves isn’t the only way to immerse in the brilliant colors of fall. The Deep South has them too – but differently. Hardwood trees in the north might produce glorious colors at just the moment you travel. Maybe. Deep South states serve up landscapes every fall in colors both Crayola primary and luscious southern hues. Some are edible!
How deep is the Deep South? Five states qualify in most such debates so when considering autumn-colors travel, look at these. I wondered if I might be overlooking the colors of fall in Georgia where I live, or in my neighboring states.
Looks like all of them splash colors for simply staring, and colors for eating. Deep South communities love festivals, too, to play outside in temperatures we consider cooler. Not much need to pack (or own) coats.
Look this deep for southern state autumn colors:
- South Carolina
Southerners sometimes use the colors of the seasons as calendars. For example, little kids with late September birthdays know their special day is coming soon when the goldenrod starts blooming.
Fall Colors the Deep South With Hues Both Edible and Inspiring
What Color is Pomegranate?
Pomegranates radiate color as brilliantly as any leaves and they’re just turning from blotchy yellow to purply blood red as September unfolds. The flowers that precede the fruit? Even bolder in color.
Remember Persephone, goddess of the Greek underworld? Hades tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, ensuring her return Down Under, and while her mother Demeter wept for her, the seasons did not change.
Sounds like autumn mythology to me.
White is a Fall Color
Cotton colors a Deep South autumn, too, with a vast whiteness extending across fields and then the evidence of harvest at cotton gins in the fall.
Crayola might not have a pomegranate crayon but their primary red, blue, green and yellow colors are southern autumn hues in abundance when gigantic modules of cotton are covered awaiting processing at the gin.
Highly visible from state and county highways. Tourist photo worthy.
Bronze Is An Autumn Color In Deep South Forests
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway connects two communities – Blue Ridge and McCaysville, Georgia – chugging along the Toccoa River and through the Chattahoochee National Forest. This is a four-hour heritage experience. Trains have followed this route since 1886.
Today, riding the rails connects with visionary urban planning too. Downtown McCaysville joined forces with two small Tennessee towns named Copperhill and Ducktown. Calling themselves the Copper Basin, they redesigned and restored buildings, revitalized shops, museums and restaurants and turned a big vision into reality.
Watercolor Means Autumn In The Deep South, Not Just Painting
Reflections in the waters of the Deep South indicate changing relationships to the sun in autumn. Seeking colors in fall travels can mean vigorous hikes or leisurely strolls.
Deep South forests and farmlands seem to include little ponds and big lakes as well as bayous, swamps and streams. That means patterns in the waters, doubling the colors of the original scene.
Colors Tell Autum Stories In The Deep South
Fall flowers in the Deep South abound in private yards and city parks, downtown curb plantings, end of summer plumbago with pale blue/violet blooms. Pliny the Elder believed they cured lead poisoning—Southerners do embrace the stories connecting us all.
Bold-orange Mexican sunflowers pull in butterflies of multiple colors. These sunflowers are as tall as their big-flowered yellow cousins, but wiggle delicate fragile blooms.
Landscapes stay edible in a Deep South autumn with green bell peppers turning to red rapidly now and basil leaves crinkling faster while topping out aromatic flowers.
Autumn Food Colors
Cherry tomatoes—the heirloom variety, volunteer back every summer in the Deep South, lingering into the fall. They add red to the autumn landscapes.
Grapes—perhaps not your favorite wine kind, but the ones southerners call “bullets.” Firm, flavorful purple muscadines and yellowy-green scuppernongs. Burst of flavor, every bite.
Swamp milkweed beckons pollinators so southerners plant it inviting butterflies and honeybees. Photo courtesy Mary Alice Applegate.
Alternative to Leaf Peeping? Could Be A Southern Swamp
Sometimes flowers carry the name of their location. Swamp milkweed for instance. And sometimes Deep South visitors notice those flowers in other settings, especially when they attract butterflies and bees. Planting pollinators has become an intentional individual and community habit in the south.