This is one of the most colorful autumns in years in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s why

It’s not just the pumpkins that are orange out there.

Fall colors are raging across the Pacific Northwest, and we have the weather to thank.

According to the United States National Arboretum, a wet growing season followed by a dry autumn filled with sunny days and cool, frostless nights results in the brightest palette of fall colors.

That is exactly the weather Puget Sound has been experiencing, said University of Washington climatologist Cliff Mass.

“The bottom line: We had just the right weather this summer/fall to optimize fall colors,” Mass said on his weather blog.

Weather aside, cultivated landscapes across the Pacific Northwest are displaying fall colors with greater enthusiasm. That’s due to the increasing amount of trees and shrubs bred and marketed for autumn displays.

Japanese maples sport leaves the color of orange soda, burning bushes set entire hillsides ablaze with red, and the yellow of gingko trees make lemons pale by comparison.

Red and orange maples at Point Defiance’s Japanese garden made for an autumnal backdrop for Tacoma photographer Emily Mruk on Wednesday. She photographed a couple and their two children as the setting sun bathed the family with light.

“October is for photographers what April is for accountants,” Mruk said. She’s booked solid this autumn.

“On Saturdays, I might do eight sessions in a row,” she said. “I am turning people away left and right.”

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.