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28 Feb 2019

A patchwork of colour

Each autumn, visitors flock to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah to witness the soothing green oasis transform into a patchwork of rusty reds, coppery browns, oranges and yellows, as the trees put on a dazzling display.

Adding further warmth are smiling faces of visitors as they feel the leaves crunch under foot or watch children play in piles of leaves higher than they are tall.

With Sydney’s climate being less than favourable for deciduous trees from cooler climates, it’s no wonder green-thumbs travel to the mountains in search of the perfect seasonal selfie, framed in a halo of soft autumn light.

blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah. maple trees, autumn colours
A golden Acer palmatum cultivar in the Brunet Garden.

Behind the scenes

A tremendous amount of work goes into planning, curating and presenting the backdrop for those insta-worthy selfies. Before the gates open each day, horticultural staff blow and rake innumerable leaves, clearing them from other precious plants, while leaving a carpet of fallen foliage to hint at the colourful canopy above.

Since the last leaf floated to the ground the previous year, beds have been mulched, weeds pulled, and soil ameliorants applied.

Our dedicated arborists have inspected each tree numerous times and pruned them to improve tree health and aesthetic. Only the most eagle-eyed visitors would notice the recent cuts left by the arborist climbers, whose formative pruning and deadwood removal show off the beautiful branch architecture, as icy south-westerly winds strip away the last of their crispy, chlorophyll-less leaves.

blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah. maple trees, autumn colours
Visitors flock to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah.

The collection

A team of horticulturists, arborists, and plant mapping officers, led by Director of Horticulture, Jimmy Turner, and Curator Manager, Greg Bourke, have been working hard on the planning and development of the tree collection. The monumental task of stocktaking and re-surveying the trees helps to identify opportunities to strengthen collections of certain genera, plays a greater role in global tree conservation and ensures the tree population can develop and mature for future generations to enjoy.

Already this work is yielding exciting curatorial projects, the most notable being the development of the maple collection (the genus Ac­er). Our maple collection isn't just a visitor favourite, it's one of the best collections in the country, if not the southern hemisphere.

blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah. maple trees, autumn colours
A patchwork of rusty reds and golden yellows.

New additions in 2019

One only has to stroll through the Residence Garden to notice the multitudes of Japanese Maple (A. palmatum) cultivars serving up an incredible palette of seasonal colour, from the moment buds burst with spring growth, to their autumn display.

Recently the Garden was fortunate to obtain an amazing selection of maples from one of Australia’s well known modern plant collectors, Peter Teese of Yamina Rare Plants. These new additions to the collection include 89 A. palmatum cultivars and several species that weren’t already in the collection. 

blue mountains botanic garden, mount tomah, autumn colours, maple trees
Take a road trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains to see a dazzling display of colour.

Make it a road trip

Be on the lookout for some truly interesting additions to the Garden over the coming years and hopefully your autumn visit to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah and the warming autumnal hues of its acres of Acers will prolong your foreboding of winter.

The road trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains is exceptionally beautiful this time of year and can be a romantic getaway or a day filled with family friendly activities. Check out the Blue Mountains Road Trip interactive map here to plan your next trip. 

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