Not all pigments can be withdrawn from the leaf structure and those remaining may cause some leaves to develop bright colours before finally falling. Not all deciduous trees develop these colours. Some just go brown before falling. Others may turn red, purple and many shades of yellow, gold and orange. The most impressive display comes from the various liquidambers, mostly around the Concourse Lawns later in the season. These large trees date from the early years of Araluen. One located nearby the Margaret Simons Pergola has a plaque indicating it was planted in 1938.
When do the trees colour?
Genetics play a major role in the timing of the leaves falling and the sequence of species from early to late in the season. Some lose their leaves in early April while others hold their green leaves before colouring later in May and even June.
April is the best time to marvel at several of the Ash (Fraxinus) which are generally the first to colour significantly with deep gold leaves. These are closely followed by the Canadian Maples – Acer rubrum, Acer x freemanii whose bright red cultivars are found from the entry off Croyden Road and throughout the Park. Also in the Entry are the bright gold Tulip Trees (Liriodendron) and the red-toned Snowy Mespillus (Amelanchier) and then the large maples in the Entry Carpark.
May is the time to look out for the Chinese Pistachio, Pistachio chinensis which are found from the top of Brisbane Hill across to the Lake below Forest View; persimmons, Diospyros kaki, at the top of Lilac Hill; crepe myrtles, Lagerstroemia sp, and various ornamental plums and cherries, Prunus, and ornamental pears, Pyrus, throughout the Park. By mid-May the Japanese Maple and many cultivars of Acer palmatum can be seen throughout the Park but especially on the verge below the entry off Croyden Road around the Margaret Simons Pergola which is located off the main Concourse Lawn. Some are located adjacent lower level of Brisbane Hill, around the Log Cabin, and below Forest View as many of the younger trees are now becoming established.
What about the Weather?
The weather affects the intensity and duration of the display. The best colours develop when the weather is dry and calm with cold nights and cool days. Temperatures especially at night and in the early morning are cold enough in the Park to trigger colour formation. However, in windy wet weather the leaves are blown off the trees often before significant colour can develop or hold on the trees. So the colours may vary during the season depending on rainy spells and the display may be better some years than others.