I didn’t plant Japanese maples in my garden for their Autumn foliage color, but many are notable for their brilliant and varied hues. In fact, I believe that the most spectacular leaves in the garden are from the Full Moon, or Fern Leaf maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium’, two photos below). From every angle you walk around Fern Leaf maple there are varying colors, almost red to a mottling of red and yellow. For weeks, the tree is breathtaking.
I will admit that I did consider the Fall foliage when I chose to plant this maple. Spring through late Summer this small tree is unspectacular, though interesting, with a low branched, wide spreading, oval shape, and deeply cut green leaves. Nice enough, but perhaps not warranting prime positioning in the garden. But in October, look out!
I searched for a Golden Full Moon maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’, below) for years until I found one in Oregon in a field of Japanese maples recovering from scrapes and scars, broken branches and Winter dieback. I had left a spot vacant in the garden, sunny, but protected from the late day sun, waiting with hope that I would find one.
I wanted this slow growing tree as a focal point, to display the bright golden leaves that shine on the gloomiest day. I didn’t give a thought to its Fall color, but here it is, nearly the equal of the Fern Leaf, though the leaves fall much earlier.
The deeply dissected green leaves of Seriyu maple (Acer palmatum ‘Seriyu’, above) turn later in the season, possibly because the two large trees are sheltered close to the shady east side of the house. The leaves will hold on the trees days after others have fallen, then seem to drop in an instant.
Even at this late date the leaves of a few Japanese maples in the garden have not turned yet. My recall is fuzzy, but I think they might be worth waiting for. When I see their Fall colors you’ll be the first to know, and I expect that later in the week we’ll get back around to some of the blooms that are still going strong in early November.