Mysterious elves decorate Loop 360 Christmas trees

In the spirit of the season, my Foliage Follow-Up post this month is strictly to do with Christmas tree foliage. And not just any Christmas trees, but the anonymously decorated cedars along Loop 360 (Capital of Texas Highway) between 2222 and the Arboretum.

Seemingly overnight Christmas elves must have decorated the cedar trees (junipers actually), which grow on the rocky slope along the highway.

Elves with a sense of humor. Check out the bee tree!

Large plastic bottles were painted black and then striped with yellow duct tape. Wings made of window screening complete the look. So clever!

Pink flamingos and purple balls and beads grace another fun tree. I believe you could say this tree was flocked.

At least 50 trees along the highway have been decked out under cover of darkness, and it brings a smile to my face each time I see them.

Last Saturday I decided to get sunrise pictures of the trees and dragged my good-natured family along for the “fun.” We got there later than I’d planned, around 7:20 am, but I’d forgotten what a big hill stands between the eastern horizon and the highway.

So we cooled our heels for about an hour waiting for the sun to crest the hill. My daughter busied herself by rehanging fallen ornaments. People honked as they flew by on the highway, and bicyclists called out hello to us. They probably thought we were some of the decorating elves. We waved back.

I even set up the tripod (first time I’d used it with the new camera) to steady my shots for the longer exposure required at dawn. Those adjustable legs came in handy on the steep slope.

My husband took a few pictures with his cell phone and posted them to Facebook under the title Merry Xcess.

We both love this kind of excess: an excess of spirit, fun, and a desire to brighten up people’s days. My thanks to the elves, and merry Christmas to you all!

Foliage Follow-Up note: I know this hardly qualifies as a Foliage Follow-Up post, but I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m in holiday mode at the moment! Still, I hope you’ll participate by showing off your favorite foliage for December in a post of your own, and leave your link in a comment here so we can find it.

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

38 Responses

  1. Weeder says:

    How fun and festive! Love it! Hope the elves come back to remove all the decor after the holidays.

    Isn’t it fun? They always have cleaned up in the past. It wouldn’t be special if left up year round. —Pam

  2. Rosie says:

    Hi Pam,
    I’ve found you, great.
    Interesting christmas trees all dressed up! Mine is one of textures of leaves.
    Here’s my link:
    Thanks for hosting this meme.

    Hi, Rosie. I’m glad you found me! Tropical gardens like yours have such incredible leafy beauty. It’s good to give the leaves their due! Thanks for joining in today for Foliage Follow-Up. —Pam

  3. So totally cool, Pam. Guerrilla decorating.

  4. I love it! We have a long row of yews along a major city street that are decorated with fabulous lights by dentist whose office is nearby. It has become a tradition that folks really look forward to.

    Thanks for joining in with your fern post, Linda. Very cool about your decorating dentist as well. —Pam

  5. Randy says:


    This is so fun, good that you shared it with us! Wish I could see them in person. Snowy here in NC today.

  6. Gail says:

    Love the trees~thank you for sharing your family adventure. We have a few decorated trees off the trail in Edwin Warner Park, but nothing this delightful! gail

  7. Rose says:

    How cool is this! I love the bee tree, and even the tree of “excess” looks clever in this setting. These wonderful elves must bring to smile to every motorist’s face–love it!

  8. Caroline says:

    How super fun is that?! LOVE the bee tree most especially.

  9. Donna says:

    I am joining your Foliage Follow-Up for the first time. No Mr. Linky?

    Well I enjoyed your Christmas Trees and kudos to the elves. It is nice to do something for others and not expect anything in return other than the joy of making others happy. Those trees are putting a lot of smiles out there. Here is my post link. I am hoping all you bloggers with those stunning photos will check in and give me some tips.

    Hi, Donna. Maybe next time I’ll figure out the Mr. Linky widget. But thanks so much for participating in Foliage Follow-Up. I really enjoyed your wintry images. —Pam

  10. Donna says:

    Pam I am joining for the first time in the Foliage Follow-Up… you can check out my snow buried garden post at

    Thanks for joining in, Donna! —Pam

  11. Darla says:

    The Elves are sure in the Christmas spirit!!

  12. We seldom use that particular stretch of highway & I haven’t seen these decorated trees, Pam – but your post makes me think we need to check them out… someone sure had fun!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  13. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a hoot these trees are. Someone was surely in the holiday spirit. Thanks for sharing.

  14. This is a wonderful foliage follow-up Pam! Makes me think about where in town I could pull off such a caper (and who I could recruit to assist).

    Wouldn’t it be fun? You should do it! —Pam

  15. Hi Pam,
    Thanks for taking the effort of getting pictures of these fun trees — thank your family, too!! I definitely think this qualifies for a Foliage Follow-up!! I love that bee tree! Too clever!!

    Here’s my foliage follow-up link:

  16. David C says:

    Very nice that you contributed to such a display of so many decorated trees. I think this is the first time I have seen your husband and daughter, too.

    I’ll have to post a pic of Abq’s tumbleweed snowman along the freeway. For now, some wet foliage here @

    We didn’t actually do any decorating, David. We just went by to admire what others had done. A tumbleweed snowman would be intriguing! —Pam

  17. Cat says:

    Austin is so much fun!! I love living here! So glad you made it out to photograph the trees. I never have my camera when I go by them. It would probably be a good idea to carry my point and shoot in the car just in case I find a blogging opportunity.

    As always, thanks for hosting Pam! My contribution this month is about the foliage of edibles in my garden.

    Merry Christmas!

  18. Kristi says:

    What fun, I love the bee tree.

  19. I love it! I’m so glad that people are still doing that on 360. And it seems to be getting more elaborate! I may have to make some smaller versions of those bees for my tree. Happy Holidays!

  20. Benjamin says:

    Nothing cool like that happens in Nebraska. I should do this to my neighbor’s trees on his acreage! Here’s my foliage post, lots of lovely oranges and yellows, FAR better than flowers!!

    Thanks for joining in, Benjamin. I’m off to see your post. —Pam

  21. lifeshighway says:

    I LOVE THIS! I wish I could drive by and see it. This would have been a fun project to be part of and enjoy.

    I’m putting it up on my facebook page, I love it, so.

    Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the pics! —Pam

  22. Missy says:

    What wonderful elves you have in Austin – love the trees. Glad to see the Christmas spirit is alive and well and having some fun.
    Here’s my foliage follow-up post from Australia

    Thanks for joining in Foliage Follow-Up, Missy. I wasn’t able to comment on your post without an account, so I’ll leave it here: Your Persian shield is one of my favorite foliage plants. It does well in central Texas if given extra water and lots of shade — probably similar to what it would need in Australia. —Pam

  23. RBell says:

    Here’s my contribution to Foliage Follow-up (We of the shade thank you):

  24. Denise says:

    How could this all have been done by stealth? What excellent elves. I hope they rewarded themselves with copious amounts of rum-spiked eggnog. Those bees are pure genius. Thanks, Pam.

    I think the elves mostly toiled at dusk and dawn, Denise. We might have caught a glimpse of a family of elves working on a tree one morning, but we weren’t sure. They looked a little tall for elves. —Pam

  25. What fun! I enjoyed your photos. I think my favorite is the one with the bees. I just got my post done.

  26. Les says:

    This post brought a smile to my face, thanks! We had a similar tree here in the middle of the interstate, a red cedar also. It got decorated every holiday, but the Grinches at the highway dept. cut it down afraid that the decorator(s) would end up in a tragedy.

    That IS Grinchy! Argh, the fear of lawsuits spoils so much fun. —Pam

  27. Farmer Fred says:

    Love the bees! What’s next…a huge jar of honey?

  28. What a fabulous thing to do! Whoever decorated those trees has the true spirit of Christmas, unlike someone in a local village here who vandalised a decorated tree…

  29. David says:

    Hi Pam,
    I tried to leave a link last night, but it didn’t show up. I love the Christmas trees! So creative.
    I’m joining in this time at Tropical Texana. Here’s the link. Thanks for hosting. David :-)

  30. Garden Sense says:

    Very creative trees!

    I’m a bit late, but wanted to offer my Christmas Accent post.

    Thanks. Chris

    Thanks for joining in Foliage Follow-Up, Chris. I wasn’t able to comment on your post without an account, so I’ll leave it here: Your post on evergreen foliage is very timely. I’ve made an ivy wreath before — super easy, like you said. That winterberry looks all the better for being deciduous, the better to show off those gorgeous berries. —Pam

  31. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Pam, I combined my usual Three for Thursday post with Foliage Follow-Up. You can see why here!

  32. Oh, man, this is AWESOME! I always knew Austin was a cool place to live! What a wonderful statement about the kinds of people you live among, Pam! LUCKY YOU!
    And thanks for getting up early to share with us all. Lovely Christmas spirit spreading around the planet! Cheers! xoxo

    Kathryn, you are right about Austinites. They are wonderful, generous, spirited folks. I’m glad you enjoyed the pics. Thanks for your sweet comment. —Pam

  33. Phillip says:

    Wow, that is wonderful.

  34. Jean says:

    Can I say the usual? “Only in Austin!” :-)

  35. I do love Austin. Keepin’ it weird and wonderful.~~Dee

  36. How beautiful and what a fantastic idea! I’d imagine it makes a lot of people smile as they drive by. I think its great too that you can get up close and really notice the detail behind every tree’s design. Very very cool. Thanks for sharing!

  37. Tina says:

    That’s pretty cool!

  38. […] I snapped this pre-sunrise image along Loop 360 where we’d stopped to look at the anonymously decorated Christmas trees. […]