Garden Photo of the Day

Japanese Maples in Tennessee

Jeff Calton has a way with words when describing the garden encore. Because I just couldn't bring my self to edit down the 17 photos he sent, I'm going to share his Japanese Maple shots with you today. More to come from the farewell tour soon!

"Ok, I think it is the end of the 2015 growing season but I have had more farewell tours than Cher.  We have enjoyed a long lasting and mild fall this year which has given the garden time to "show her stuff" before the big sleep. Winter , for me, is the time to  evaluate and enjoy the bones of the garden.  Plant structure, bark patterns, branching silhouettes so look out because I always have a camera with me."

Have a garden you'd like to share? Please email 5-10 photos (and a brief story about your garden) to [email protected], or tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

Whether you've never shared before or you've been featured multiple times, we want to see your garden! You don't have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here!

Acer japonicum Aconitifolium

Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira'

Acer palmatum, 30 years in the pot

Japanese maples in west border

one more japanese maple

seedling Japanese maple

maple leaves in the mondo grass

View Comments


  1. Chefin1950 11/20/2015

    Beautiful, all of them, but I am most intrigued with the tree in the first shot. Did you train it or does it grow naturally that way? The structure is a feast for sore eyes in the winter!

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      that is it's natural form, the only pruning is to remove deadwood. it was planted around 1925

      1. Chefin1950 11/20/2015

        When such beautiful things, well all living things actually but especially beautiful ones ;o) have been around for so long, it is our responsibility to nurture and protect them. Jeff, you have shouldered this heavy burden quite admirably!

        1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

          Marsha, that particular tree is on a client property (all other photos are in my yard) the property had been abandoned for decades until it was bought and restoration began. we did not know this tree existed but we discovered it under a sprawling mass of sweet autumn clematis and akebia we also discovered a boxwood knot garden. it was horticultural archaeology up there for the first few years

  2. NCYarden 11/20/2015

    You know I am swooning, Jeff. Love these photos, as I love these trees. The Fall show can be so exciting. So glad to hear you got a little extra time out of Autumn to enjoy the colors - it has been a pleasant one, a little redemption form a nasty Summer. Thanks for sharing.

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      cross the mountain and visit! i'll give you the 50 cent maple tour :)

      1. NCYarden 11/20/2015

        Haha, awesome...and I would gladly pay more, good man. A plant buddy of mine has his family's home back in Knoxville, and I hope to head back with him sometime on a visit. Are you anywhere nearby, or on the way?

        1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

          I am 2 hours northeast of Knoxville and about 1 hour from Asheville nc,,,,,however, meander is just adjacent to Knoxville! and she has a spectacular garden

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/20/2015

    I share your gratitude and enthusiasm for this beautiful autumn, Jeff, although based on photo #3, looks like you got a jump on that first frost. We haven't had a real one yet. Amazing story about that Japanese maple surviving all those years under the blanket of the clematis and akebia about benign neglect. How wonderful for its admirers, though, that your efforts unearthed it's graceful beauty in maturity. As always, I am in awe of your bonsai Japanese maple...what a treasure to have.

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      we have had a few hard frosts here but no bitter cold temps alto they say 22 for sunday night

  4. user-4691082 11/20/2015

    Oh, my what beautiful trees! How do you grow a seedling? Do you put your bonsai in a protected place in the winter? I would worry that the container would crack when it's freezing...thanks for more garden envy!

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      I "plant" the bonsai for winter. the pot is a high fired Japanese bonsai container so it won't crack from the weather

      1. User avater
        HelloFromMD 11/20/2015

        Jeff could you elaborate on how you 'plant' the bonsai for winter? Thanks, Nancy

        1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

          Nancy, I just heel it in as I do with a number of plants. I dig a trench and place the pots in that and backfill with soil to the rim of the pot then mulch it down with pine straw

  5. wGardens 11/20/2015

    Great photos, Jeff! I too, love the structure of the first featured tree. What a treasure to uncover that! And the frosted leaves make a lovely shot. The maple leaves in the Mondo grass is a wonderful photo. Your bonsai is a beauty. Have you nurtured it since its' beginning? How many cultivars of Japanese Maples do you have? Do you have a favorite- I imagine it would be very difficult to choose!

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      Margaret, I have had that bonsai since it was a tiny seedling. it was a wedding gift from an old nurseryman friend who taught me A LOT . I have many plants here that were grafted by him. he died at age 90 in his greenhouse a true gardener till the end

  6. diane_lasauce 11/20/2015

    Jeff, wonderful images. I look forward to more. Color here in my central VA gardens is best in November, as the two J maples I have are wild with color now, along with the Oak leaf hydrangeas! Where do you garden?

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      Diane, I am in upper northeast Tennessee very near the Virginia stateline. I am maybe 30 minutes from Bristol

  7. User avater
    HelloFromMD 11/20/2015

    Hi Jeff, I called my husband over to see the bonsai. Very inspiring. Ernie took a class in creating bonsai at Benhke's Nursery under the tutelage of Ducky, a Korean with years of expertise. I am hoping Ernie might take that up as a hobby, he could live long enough to have 30 year old bonsai if he starts now! I also like the way it is displayed. We will have to come up with a way to display his bonsai. Like a new patio. Anywho thanks for the inspiration! …..I appreciate your photo of leaves in the grass. That is something we gardeners see and love and these shots don't often appear in tabletop books. And your first photo of the Jap. maple tree limbs should definitely appear in a coffee table book!

    1. castinem8 11/20/2015

      Credit to the person(s) who did the pruning.

    2. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      thanks, Nancy. I think gardeners "see" much more in the details than others do. as far as the bonsai ,,,,,,I really don't know what I am doing. I just sort of do what the tree directs and requires and hope for the best

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/20/2015

    Great shots, Jeff. Love the half-a-Japanese maple. Nice to hear the story of archaeological discovery. I think that the Acer Japonicum cultivars are all winners. Why are they so hard to come by? The fallen leaves in the mondo grass is amazing, too. My half of a Japanese maple finally turned color in one day: green to yellow, then yellow to orangish the next. Caught me by surprise.

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      we have had a wonderful fall here for color. the first in a few years. still not cold cold but just chilly enough to feel like fall without all the coats and bundling up

  9. user-7007903 11/20/2015

    Absolutely love Japanese Maples in general but really really love your Bonsai. Awesome! Wow!

  10. GrannyMay 11/20/2015

    Beautiful Japanese Maples and great photos, Jeff! That first one is a reminder to all of us to plant trees now! You can always move (or remove) them later, but they need time to reach their potential.

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      so true but most people don't do that. I think gardening is the absolute slowest form of art,,,,,takes years or decades for trees to become full of character

      1. GrannyMay 11/20/2015

        Yes, just like character in people.

  11. jagardener 11/20/2015

    Maple leaf in the Mondo grass- you really have to look. Thanks.

  12. janeeliz 11/20/2015

    Spectacular beauty and spectacular photos, Jeff! That ancient Japanese maple and its story are just wonderful!

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      thanks, Jane and by the way,,,,,,i am hungry to see your garden again soon

  13. GrannyCC 11/20/2015

    Amazing trees, colours and textures. Thanks for the wonderful boost to the day.

  14. schatzi 11/20/2015

    Jeff, your photography is beautiful as usual. I especially like shots like the last one that remind me of Ansel Adams, but they are all beautiful.

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      Shirley, glad you like the pics! I usually have a camera within arms reach

  15. sheila_schultz 11/20/2015

    Jeff, your photos are like dessert... they always leave us wanting more! I must say, though, that my all-time fave photo of yours is of the 'ancient one'. It is truly magnificent and lucky to have you as it's caregiver. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      that old tree is one of my favorites too, Sheila. I think should I ever retire that I will demand visitation rights

      1. sheila_schultz 11/20/2015

        You know what Jeff... should you retire and I'm still mobile, I'd love to come on one of your 'visitations' to this magnificent beauty... pruners and renewed spirit at hand ;) You are a gift to your community, my friend. They have no idea you are the steward for natural beauty surrounding their home.

  16. Meelianthus 11/20/2015

    Jeff, your trees are just magical.Their ethereal beauty knows no bounds and how wonderful they must be on your property intermingled with all of your other greenery. I do so wish I had more room for trees. All of these giant Douglas firs (100-150' !!) don't leave a lot of room for creativity. So glad you shared more of your Autumn beauty - I always enjoy your gardens.

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      I wish people would plant trees first when they begin a garden as they take so long to develop their personality but most want color NOW and most people move about often and don't remain in one spot for decades

      1. Meelianthus 11/20/2015

        You are so right Jeff. The few trees that I planted years ago, as twigs, are now quite lovely and I am so glad I did that 20-30 years ago - and again, wish I had more room.

        Happy Fall - soon to be Winter

  17. katieerb 11/20/2015

    I love these shots of the Japanese Maples, my yard in Texas is not a good spot for these beautiful trees but I love them. Thanks for sharing!!

  18. perenniallycrazy 11/20/2015

    You really know how to bring out the best in autumn Jeff. I continue to swoon over your garden's magic. Thanks for sharing these - made my day!

    1. jeffgoodearth 11/20/2015

      so when are you guys coming to Tennessee?

  19. VikkiVA 11/20/2015

    Stunningly beautiful!!!

  20. greengenes 11/21/2015

    Good evening! Iam on the large screen instead of my phone so I could see these beautiful pictures a whole lot better! These are wonderful shots of your maples! I so love the bonsi one... have you or anyone reading this post tried to start some from the seed? I am particularly looking at the aconitifolium. Mine has seeds and I wasn't sure if they would come out to be as the parent. Thanks Jeff for sharing with us! Beautiful colors!

  21. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 11/21/2015

    Jeff, love your Japanese Maple photos, especially the bonsai which combines two of my passions. They are a truly addictive tree.

  22. LAguy323 12/30/2015

    Beautiful trees!

  23. dwightmarable 07/21/2017

    I have a large Japanese maple that struggles during the heat of summer, but this year it has some branches which appear to be dead. I am concerned and looking for professional help. Do you know anyone in the Franklin, TN area who might help?

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest