It’s true, there is autumn foliage in San Francisco. Just go to Golden Gate Park and take a walk in the Botanical Garden.

Panorama axial view of San Francisco Botanical Garden in autumn from Zellerbach Perennial Garden toward Fountain Plaza
Panorama view of San Francisco Botanical Garden in autumn.

The color doesn’t really start to show until December, and nobody is going to mistake it for new England, but colorful fall foliage is possible if you choose the right trees.

There are a lots of choices for autumn color in California away from the moderate coastal zone. Where temperatures get hot in the summer so that trees buildup lots of sugar in their leaves and fall brings cold weather, there are plenty of choices for fall color. But in San Francisco, not so much.

Perhaps the most reliable tree for spectacular yellow is Ginkgo biloba, which can be found in the garden dominating the pathway by the Bamboo Pond past the Temperate Asia section.

Ginkgo biloba tree wiht yellow falll foliage color in San Francisco Botanical Garden
Ginkgo biloba tree with yellow fall foliage color

And if you duck into the Temperate Asia section you will find leaves of the various flowering plums turning soft yellows and littering the boardwalk.

Boardwalk path covered with autumn leaves of Plum tree in Temperate Asia section of San Francisco Botanical Garden
Boardwalk path covered with autumn leaves of in Temperate Asia section of San Francisco Botanical Garden

I love the glimpse of the ginkgo tree through the foliage.

A tree that I did not expect have fall color is the Copper Beech tree, Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’.

Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea' (syn 'Purpurea') - Copper Beech tree, fall color in San Francisco Botanical Garden
Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’ – Copper Beech tree, fall color in San Francisco Botanical Garden

The orange tones were deeper on this rainy day when I was in the garden. Colors are usually richer for garden photography on overcast days anyway, but on rainy days the wet leave makes the color even more saturated.

Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea' (syn 'Purpurea') - Copper Beech tree, fall color in San Francisco Botanical Garden
Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’ – Copper Beech tree, fall color in San Francisco Botanical Garden

The Moon Viewing Garden is always beautiful in the Botanical Garden, and as you might suspect there are many Japanese Maple trees throughout this section of the garden.

Walkway by Moon Viewing Garden in San Francisco Botanical Garden with fall foliage color in Japanese Maple trees, Acer palmatum.
Moon Viewing Garden in San Francisco Botanical Garden with fall foliage color of Japanese Maple trees.

This is one of my favorite parts of the garden and is always photogenic because of the viewing platform that is so well situated on the pond underneath the trees.

Platform viewing deck over pond in Moon Viewing Garden in San Francisco Botanical Garden with fall foliage color in Japanese Maple trees.

This time of year everywhere you look the colorful Japanese maples become part of the fabric of this section of the garden.

San Francisco Botanical Garden
Moon Viewing Garden in autumn

If you walk through the moon viewing garden along the smaller paths you’ll find many of them covered with leaves this time of year; not quite crunchy like walking through a deciduous forest, but it’s still a great reminder that the seasons do change in San Francisco.

San Francisco Botanical Garden
Japanese Maple leaves among ferns in San Francisco Botanical Garden

The most surprising tree that I found in the garden was a Northern Red Oak tree, Quercus rubra.

Quercus rubra - Northern Red Oak tree in leaves in fall color; San Francisco Botanical Garden
Quercus rubra – Northern Red Oak tree in leaves in fall color; San Francisco Botanical Garden

This Red Oak tree is right by the South African section. There are different parts of Francisco Botanical Garden, dedicated to different plant collections from all over the world.  Where the sections overlap, plant lovers will find these surprising juxtapositions.

Quercus rubra - Northern Red Oak tree in leaves in fall color; San Francisco Botanical Garden
Quercus rubra – Northern Red Oak tree in leaves in fall color; San Francisco Botanical Garden

In autumn those juxtapositions can be made obvious. It just goes to show how wonderful it is to walk through the Botanical Garden anytime of year.

 

 

 

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