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.

9 Responses

  1. Stephanie Lanier says:


    WOW….Your Japanese maple is gorgeous!! I love the fall foliage, even if it is in December. I’ve always wanted one of these trees, but was afraid they would not do well in our drought conditions. Seeing your photos make me want one even more, even if I have to baby it a little. Happy Holidays!!

  2. Thinking of your maple, Pam, I planted one also next to my house. It’s too young to have color like that, but I’m looking forward to seeing those colors against my limestone facade. Hmmm, what color should we paint your bricks….?

  3. that’s funny. i thought of painting the bricks, too. white, black…the color of those luminous leaves is breath-taking!

  4. cat says:

    The gorgeous red leaves do add a nice festive touch to the garden don’t they? Mine is sitting outside the kitchen window and its red leaves capture my attention everytime I walk by!

  5. Jenny says:

    Wow, what incredible color. Was this a particularly good year for color or does it always perform so well?

    It always does well, Jenny. This year seems pretty typical. Here are pics of the Japanese maple in 2008. —Pam

  6. Gail says:

    That sizzling color till Mid December! It’s really lovely and I must admit, I wondered if you had plans to paint your brick! I think about it all the time for my my too orange brick! gail

    Nah, we’re going to leave the brick as-is. It’s pretty neutral, really, although red doesn’t look best next to it. I do love painted brick though. —Pam

  7. Diane says:

    Beautiful tree…beautiful photos! I love the way the light catches the leaves. Stunning.

  8. Rosie says:

    Hi Pam,
    Love this posting on your maple tree. I would plant one, but they would just remain green here in the tropics.
    Am looking for your meme on foliage as I would love to participate. When is it appearing?

    My Foliage Follow-Up post for December is up now, Rosie. I hope you will join in! —Pam

  9. Kacky says:

    Your maple is beautiful. All of ours at the nursery have just about lost all the leaves- these are beautiful. I love the change in color. Our Big Tooth Maples have put off yellows, reds, orange and gold leaves that are incredible. As always, I enjoy the photos. Thanks for posting!!!