Who could ask a tree to provide more beauty and interest than this Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) on Berkeley's Marin Avenue? All photos: Robert Tracthenberg By Robert Trachtenberg This has been one of the more spectacular fall color seasons that I can remember for a long time.
The lack of rain and recent cool weather has given us a prolonged show of color that has lasted for
several months now. Maybe it is my Pittsburgh PA, roots but the fall season is my favorite time of the year.
When people think about providing color and interest in a garden they typically want to talk to me about the spring time and what will be blooming. But for me the fall season provides the greatest opportunity for color and ever changing surprises as leaves go from green to yellow to brilliant orange and red.
An allée of Maidenhair trees (Ginkgo biloba) light up this residential street in west Berkeley. The Ginkgo tree is an ancient survivor from prehistoric times (200 million years ago) native to China. Take a moment to admire the glow of the leaves of the Ginkgo when back-lit by sunlight as it will soothe your soul A Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea) is a classic American street tree but not typically seen in Berkeley. Here is a nice example of the leaves beginning to fade from green to a scarlet color. The yellow back drop is a Gingko tree. The Uplands The Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) has found a home here as it is seen widely throughout all of Berkeley. Yes, it is common, but truly irresistible in every way and every season. Perhaps one of the most perfect trees, it typically displays an open structure that allows a beautiful filtered light to fall through the tree and on to ground. Casting intricate shadows, the Japanese Maple is animated in its form and poetic in its open branching and detail of its leaves. I just love this tree A Japanese Maple in a woodland setting on The Uplands is a perfect under-story companion to a majestic California Live Oak
There are hundreds if not thousands of varieties and cultivars of Japanese Maples. Just look at the delicate detail of the leaves and the range of color on a single branch. Japanese Maples typically do not like full sun and prefer filtered light and a protected area away from wind This is part of large grape (Vitaceae) vine growing on a metal trellis along the entire front of a property on The Uplands. Though a bit unusual for a residential application it is a really wonderful vine for your garden landscape. This can be left to grow large enough to cover an entire pergola or arbor or you can prune it back seasonally to produce your own grapes. It is a deciduous vine so you will get your summer shade and your winter sun The dark evergreen foliage of a California Redwood provides a great backdrop and contrast for this Ginkgo biloba on Ashby Avenue Bringing life to architecture, I love to see vines on buildings. (This one is on University Avenue.) It bothers and frightens many homeowners, but in the right situation I think it is great. This particular vines is a Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata). Planted best for northern or eastern exposure, this vine is vigorous and should be taken seriously as it will win the fight
The Smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria) is an interesting woody plant that provides four-season interest in a small shrub form which can add a lot of depth and dimension to your garden. In the spring, plumes of champagne-colored flowers fade away like puffs of smoke. The range of color from yellow to orange to red is as good as it gets When I think of fall, I think of Persimmon (Ebenaceae) trees. Why? Because they also have an amazing display of fall color. The large leathery leaves turn a wonderul array of orange and red and then drop their leaves, leaving a naked tree full of luscious fruit! This may be the best small-scale fruit tree for residential use. Like most fruit trees, it likes full sun and should be pruned properly when young to establish a good structure
Robert Trachtenberg, a landscape designer who lives in Berkeley, is the owner of Garden Architecture. This photo essay is part of an occasional series in which Trachtenberg brings an educated eye to the beauty of the nature that surrounds us in Berkeley.