By mid November most tree foliage has turned color, faded, and leaves have fallen. If any foliage was hanging by a thread the hurricane winds surely took care to blow it into the next county, so that today most trees are bare. But, a few trees are almost fully in leaf, and now are at their peak color.
Most of the garden’s Japanese maples dropped their foliage several weeks ago, but several varieties typically hold their leaves until late in the season. The fern leaf maple (Acer aconitifolium, above) changes color early, but the leaves hang on long after most other trees have gone bare. This is perhaps the most spectacular of trees in my garden for autumn color, with parts of the tree turning dark red, others yellow, or orange, and some sections with a mix of all. In mid November the leaves are beginning to drop, but half of the tree remains in blazing full color.
There are two large Lion’s Head maples (Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’, above) in the garden. Both are fully leafed, and both were completely green until a few days ago, when suddenly they turned. One tree is now fringed with brown leaves that hide the delightful color beneath, but the second tree is perfectly beautiful to my eye, only a smidgen less grand than the fern leaf maple. Both trees glow in the late afternoon sun.
The ‘Okushimo’ maple (Acer palmatum ‘Okushimo’, above) is only slightly less stunning, and like the Lion’s Head maple it showed no sign of color until the hard freeze a week ago. Both ‘Okushimo’ and Lion’s Head maples are green leafed through much of the year, but the leaves are crinkled and curled so that they are unique, though still more attractive to collectors than the general gardening public.
The branches of two large ‘Seriyu’ Japanese maples (Acer palmatum ‘Seriyu’, above) planted close to the house arch over the front walk. When the foliage is damp from rain the branches hang low, so visitors must stoop low to reach the front door, but in mid November the red and yellow canopy of foliage is quite wonderful. The delicate leaves drift slowly to carpet the bluestone walk late into November.