Hooray for autumn!

Where did the month of September go? It seems like it was just the Labor Day holiday weekend and here I find myself writing on the last day of September. Our summer does seem to have obeyed the calendar and the temperatures dropped and some rain showers have returned right on schedule with the beginning of autumn.

You know what that means – crisp nights, the scent of wood smoke from folks lighting the first fires of the season, apple cider, pumpkins, harvest festivals and… Fall Color!

Acer palmatum ‘Tobiohsho’ is among the first to display its fall foliage color.

This is the time of year when my conifers take a break from center stage in my garden and my Japanese Maples and other broadleaved plants begin to dazzle the eyes with their vibrant color. One of my favorite Japanese Maples for fall color is Acer palmatum ‘Tobiosho’ – one of the earliest to don its incredible array of burgundy, red and orange foliage. I know when ‘Tobiosho’ begins to turn, the others will not be far behind.

Acer palmatum ‘Omure Yama’ stands out with its brilliant orange autumn foliage.

Another spectacular sight in the autumn garden is Acer palmatum ‘Omure yama.’ With its striking, bright orange, deeply cut palmate leaves, it looks amazing near dark green conifers. A premium choice for year-round interest is Acer palmatum ‘Sherwood Flame’ which turns from dark cherry red to a much more intensely bright scarlet red in the fall.

Acer palmatum ‘Sherwood Flame’ is a winner for fantastic color.

Known for its amazing deep red color from spring through summer, Acer palmatum ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel’ turns shades of bright scarlet while the very hardy Acer x pseudosieboldianum North Wind® (‘IslNW’) surprises as its green late summer color becomes a combination of deep, bright red and intensely rich orange.

Acer palmatum ‘Twombley’s Red Sentinel’ is truly a standout in the garden.
Acer x pseuodosieboldianum North Wind® (‘IslNW’) is a new, extremely hardy form with spectacular autumn color.

Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ is one of the last to turn and will generally carry our fall color season to the end of November. Of course by then, Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’ will have begun his bright golden yellow show which will persist through the winter along with other winter color conifers.

Often the tree to bring the autumn color season to a close in my garden, Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira’ is a favorite sight near the end of the show.

Autumn has always been a favorite season for me and no matter what happened in September, with our autumn season kicking into gear, I sense new life even as many of my garden plants are beginning to go dormant for their winter rest. As for me, I’ll be enjoying the garden in all its autumn glory and settling into my favorite chair near the woodstove with a cup of tea, anticipating the winter months ahead.

Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’ begins his winter season of color just about the time that the deciduous trees and shrubs have finished their Autumn show.

Hooray for autumn!

Conifer Lover

7 thoughts on “Hooray for autumn!

  1. Ed… I have a praise for you as well as a couple questions that I’m wondering if you would have a way for me to get answers to… first off… I now own two Iseli Acer x pseudosieboldianum ‘North Wind’ and one ‘Arctic Jade’… all three are about 5’ tall and I have to say you were absolutely correct… they are wonderful and the fall color has been amazing! That said, my two questions involve two smaller Pinus parviflora ‘Goldolocks’ and two 4′ Abies koreana ‘Aurea’… all out of Iseli and bearing their labels… All four of these are gorgeous plants that were planted this past spring… however, there is no sign of yellow or golden foliage on any of them. I am concerned as I purchased them for the color. Is it possible that this is because of their first season in a new environment (they were green at purchase afew days after arriving by truck from Oregon as well) or could there possibly be mislabeling? I was hoping that with your connections, you might be able to secure some info on this… of course I am hoping the color will come next season…
    Thanks much and I refer to your blog constantly…


    1. Hi Larry – I am pleased to hear that your ‘North Wind’ ‘and Arctic Jade’ are thriving in your location. I have a good friend in eastern Iowa and his ‘North Wind’ came through this past record breaking winter looking super!

      Now, regarding your question about P.p. ‘Goldilocks’ and A.k. ‘Aurea’. First let me address the ‘Aurea’. I can only speak to how they look in the Pacific Northwest, and here they are not the most vibrant of golden conifers by any stretch of the imagination. The new growth does emerge light yellow and as the foliage matures, it retains some yellow, but to my eyes, it is more of a yellow-green and nothing like, say, Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’. It is a very pretty tree, and frankly, one of my favorite features is its abundance of purple cones in the spring.

      I have seen ‘Goldilocks’ growing in nearly full shade and not show any of its golden color at all. I do know that Iseli does grow many of their golden and yellow plants in partial shade to prevent the possibility of sunburn on the needles, but the ones that I have personally seen over the years growing in those partially shaded structures have always had some yellow to their foliage. How much sun do yours typically receive per day? It might just be a matter of placement.

      I suggest that you contact Iseli they could then put you in contact with their local area expert that should be able to offer advice or answer questions specific to your location.


      1. Thanks for replying Ed… I really appreciate it. The aureas get a little less sunlight than the Goldilocks, which are probably at five hours or more. To be honest, my bigger concern is that the aureas are what they purport to be because I specifically lusting after the purple cones! I also contacted the nurseryman that I got the plants from… he is degreed in horticulture and believes I will see much more color in the future (as in this coming spring). As I said the plants are wonderfully healthy and look great… I took your advice and put in a couple ‘jantar’ as well, so I am not without color in these areas. Your comment about them being grown in some shade is valuable to answering my concerns I think… I was really wondering if that might be the case. I will take your advice and contact Iseli just to see if my placement may not be the best. I am in the process of eventually making conifers and magnolias the main focus of our gardens as I grow older. It is a difficult situation getting the variety in the landscape that I want in our soil and winters… of course, following your postings makes me ‘dream’ even bigger!! Thanks again, Larry


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