Final 2023 Update: Tuesday, 11/7
Portland Japanese Garden has now moved past its peak fall colors. Today marks the conclusion of our regular fall updates for 2023. That noted, while several of the landscape’s most photographed maples have lost much of their leaves, there are still vibrant golds and crimsons throughout Portland Japanese Garden that will linger in the coming days. There is no certainty as to how long the remaining fall colors will last, so we urge anyone interested in experiencing fall in Portland Japanese Garden to visit soon!
A Look Back at 2023
Autumn in Portland Japanese Garden
In Japan, the transition of seasons is revered for their impermanence. The fleeting nature of Japanese maples reaching peak color only heightens the anticipation of fall.
In a part of the world better known for its year-round greenery, once a year, the Pacific Northwest comes to life with exquisite tone and texture. Throughout this season, Portland Japanese Garden is active as the lush, full, and matured trees from the summer transform into their autumn splendor, revealing brilliant shades of red and gold. When fall hits Portland Japanese Garden, it is absolutely stunning.
While factors like temperature, light, and water all affect the onset and duration of fall colors, one can expect to start to see the transformation throughout the month of October. Visit often to see Portland Japanese Garden transform throughout the season.
Scenes from 2022’s Autumn Splendor
These photographs below were taken in 2022 and may help give a sense of what is to come in 2023.
Fall Foliage and Maintenance: In order to maintain our paths and preserve the Garden environment and the level of cleanliness and grooming expected by all our members and visitors, our gardeners perform necessary maintenance, including the use of leaf blowers. In the fall, leaf blower use may increase in the mornings when the Garden is open.
the maple leaf then let
it go– John Wills, American haiku poet
When is peak fall color?
Factors like temperature, light, and water all affect the onset and duration of fall colors. Typically, you can start to see the transformation throughout the month of October through early November.
Where is “The Tree?” When is the best time to photograph it?
“The Tree” is a maple tree on the northern end of the Strolling Pond Garden. Among the many trees donated to Portland Japanese Garden throughout its history, The Tree became a beloved subject of photographers from all around the world when a Portland resident, physician Fred An, won a merit award from National Geographic for his shot of it in peak fall glory. Another image of The Tree was featured in an exhibition in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Ever since, visitors and photographers alike have traveled great distances to see “The Tree” in-person.
We recommend visiting during morning member-only hours (learn more about memberships, here) or during the late afternoon (3-4pm), after peak visitation. We ask that all guests be respectful of others and limit the amount of time spent at The Tree and avoid blocking it or the path leading to it.
On the occasion when the Garden experiences a sunny autumn day, the sun typically back lights the tree in late morning and through mid-afternoon.
I’m traveling from out of state – when should I plan my visit?
Typically, we see fall color from mid-to-late October to early November. Planning a trip within this time frame should provide some fall color, but we cannot predict when peak color will be or what exactly the foliage will be like at any given time. If possible, plan a longer trip and visit often so you can experience changes over time.
What are the policies around photography in the Garden?
We are honored that professionals and amateurs alike find inspiration at Portland Japanese Garden. To keep the Garden an accessible and enjoyable experience for all visitors, please be considerate when photographing the Garden by following these policies:
- Please do not block garden views, pathways, or elements for extended periods.
- Please do not disrupt the gardeners as they work.
- The Garden does not allow portrait photography (e.g., engagement, wedding, graduation, or headshot photos).
- There is a $10.00/person charge for using a tripod for anyone who is not a Garden Member.
KGW spotlights fall color and the significance of seasonal change at Portland Japanese Garden in 2019.
This segment highlights the serenity of the fall season with soothing music and beautiful captures of fall color.
See the Garden transform before your eyes with this timelapse of stunning foliage.
Must Visit Spots for Fall
Planning a road trip to admire fall foliage in the Pacific Northwest? Find your guides for local or regional fall-focused excursions.
Portland Japanese Garden Photographer Memberships are designed especially for professional and amateur photographers and include all the benefits of membership, including invitations to special Photographer Member hours, permission to sell photographs of the Garden for commercial, advertising, or promotional purposes, and more! Learn about the value of these photo memberships ahead of this picturesque seasonal time.