Graceful Acer: A Tree for all Seasons


A graceful Acer hugs the side of our house; a stunning specimen of a tree. Long, green limbs branch out low from the trunk, giving way to seven-point leaves. It’s taller than our one-story house, and big enough to provide shade.

Acer branch

Graceful Branches

Acer green leaves

Acer 7-Point Leaves

As much as I love the changing colors this time of year, I also feel a little wistful. Though we left Ontario, Canada when I was 7, I feel a cultural tug to my Canadian heritage.  Shorter, cooler days and the lovely hues of fall make me a little homesick for my place of birth.  Crazy, eh?

Our maple tree is an Acer palmatum, also known as a Japanese Maple. In our arid climate, home to year round citrus trees, the Acer serves as a lovely demarcation of the four seasons. In the spring and summer months, it offers shade for the patio.  It shelters part of our living room from the blaring summer sun.  I can see the tree from our bedroom, entry way, living room and of course the garden. Hummingbirds rest on the branches, waiting for a turn at the feeder.  Cheeky squirrels hide their nuts in the ground under the tree’s canopy. Just yesterday two of the cats took turns sleeping under the tree.  Who knows what that was about.

squirrel under Acer

Found a Peanut

Acer samaras

Acer Samaras

Now it’s autumn’s turn in the spotlight.  Leaves are changing to more vibrant hues. The fruit, known as samaras, populate the tree.  Since frosts are rare, our Acer holds on to its leaves for quite a while.  Last year, with so little rain, the dead leaves clung to the branches well into winter. You could see all the new leaf buds forming at the same juncture.  Occasionally I gave the tree a gentle shake so I could enjoy the rustle of crisp leaves scraping past the branches in a graceful free-fall.  It’s a gorgeous specimen, year round, but in these early fall days, it reminds me of a place I used to call home.

Acer red leaf

The first of the Acer leaves turn red


  • Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)
  • Acer (A genus of trees including the Canadian Maple)


12 thoughts on “Graceful Acer: A Tree for all Seasons

  1. Your not crazy! Fall in Ontario is pretty fantastic. Beautiful tree and I am glad it gives you a taste of fall that you are looking for.


  2. Good one, eh! I think those squirrels have a primo place to call home. What are you using for mulch there under their toes? Looks just like life in the forest, except for the kitty cats of course. It’s going to be so pretty once the leaves all turn fuchsia…..amazing!


    • Fuchsia! That is the perfect way to describe their color. Th mulch under their toes, as you so cleverly say it, is called Gorilla Hair, a shredded redwood bark common in the local nurseries. My poor son was worried one year that is was indeed Gorilla hair, but I assured him it just had that look, orangey-brown and furry. Once I used coco husk mulch. It smelled like chocolate wafting from the ground up. But a neighbor pointed out that dogs thought so too and were eating it, so I didn’t by it again. Imagine how you would feel if a dog got sick or worse eating your garden mulch.


      • O boy, dog’s will eat anything. Buddy liked deer poo…sorry, did I just make you gag. Best to be safe even though your yard probably smelt really yummy. I’ve seen the Coco husk mulch in Garden Magezines, but I’ve never seen it for sale here. I used to use Cedar mulch..but it only really looked best the first year you put it out. The Gorilla Hair looks really good, I like how it’s shredded so fine.


        • I have several cats, so you can’t gross me out. I’ve seen all manner of things (and I’ve cleaned up most of them).

          Perhaps the coco mulch didn’t catch on if people’s dogs were getting sick. I know chocolate can be lethal for dogs. Cats are so well mannered. They seem to know what to stay away from.

          Mmmm…cedar is a wonderful smell.


            • I used to have a cat that wanted to chew and lick corn cobs! Mr. Cat would take a bit out of pizza slices. He was a hoot. Our current kitties aren’t much into people food either, but Beijing does sip a tiny bit of milk with her arthritis medication.


                • We bought her a heating pad last winter, but she didn’t like it. I was surprised as I’ve had friends over the years use them with good luck. She loves the fleece blanket on Chris’ bed so lately spends a lot of time there. She also goes out back and sits on her blanket tray when the sun is beating down. I’ll pass on your snuggles.


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