Japanese maple at peak fall color


After school today my daughter and I simply stood amid the green branches of the Japanese maple at the front corner of the house, immersing ourselves in precision-cut, flaming red leaves. Blushing hotly, the maple is at its peak of fall color, and the very first leaves are beginning to curl and drop. When I ducked out of the branches after our reverie, several tiny red leaves were clinging to my fuzzy jacket. Very soon the show will be over, so I’m spending a lot of time just gazing at it.

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Deer me! Whitetail buck torments yucca


Argh! A small herd of deer moved through the front garden this morning, as they do nearly every day, and I caught this buck in the act of shredding one of my softleaf yuccas with his antlers.


I’d wondered why this yucca seemed a little beaten up of late. The buck took several passes at rubbing his antlers on it, smashing the plant’s crown and shredding some of its leaves. I noticed wet streaks of scent markings all over the yucca after he’d moved on in his stately manner.

Unlike some gardeners with deer, I am not a fan. If I could I’d fence them out of the front yard. But since I can’t I try to learn to live with them. At least I can say with satisfaction (yet knowing this can change at any time as they get hungrier) that they aren’t eating anything I planted except hymenoxys (Tetraneuris scaposa), which they found quite tasty over the summer.

I think I’ll spray deer repellent on my yuccas, however, to try to save them from antler destruction.

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Japanese maple fall foliage finally


Christmas trees go up before many a central Texas tree accepts that autumn is here and drops the green facade to reveal its fall colors. My Japanese maple, a species Acer palmatum, is one of the holdouts, waiting nearly until the winter solstice to blaze forth.


Rich fall color seems incongruous with a Yuletide decorating scheme, but this little tree doesn’t care.


Planted by previous owners too close to the foundation, all wrong for its spot really, this understory tree wows me nonetheless with its graceful form, dainty leaves, and vibrant fall color. A shady and cooler northern exposure keeps it happy in our blistering summers, although I’m still surprised it tolerates our dry, alkaline soil.


Those beautiful serrated leaves glow like stained glass in the morning and evening, when the slanting rays of sunlight get a piece of it.


The color zings against the dark roof shingles.


Too bad it doesn’t go better with the toasted sesame color of the brick. But it’s lovely nonetheless and makes a good show as the year draws to a close.

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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