An autumn of yellows

Leaves of red and orange seem in short supply in this early November, but yellow is everywhere. And, not only the sickly yellow of drought stricken maples, but rich and glowing tones border the narrow highways on my daily drive. (Even with the recent time change my morning commute is in the dark, but I try to get home in the evening before dark.)

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is massed along many area highways, and in the section of forest that borders this garden. Spicebush is unremarkable most of the year, even in flower and with small clusters of berries in late summer, but its autumn foliage color can be exceptional.

I do not discount the beauty of red leafed Japanese maples, faded for months by summer’s heat, but returning now to their richest glory. The Fernleaf maple (Acer japonicum ‘Aconitifolium, below) is a favorite, now showing a preview of mottled red and yellow foliage that will peak in another week. While a few Japanese maples are already bare, others are even later in turning.

I recall foliage of witch hazels as being more red, and ‘Jelena’ is, but leaves of ‘Arnold Promise’ (below) are orange, or yellow, or some very nice shade in between. The red flowered ‘Diane’ is becoming too shaded, with leaves that are the sad yellow that results from shade, or drought, or whatever other stress. I presume there will be fewer winter flowers also.

Autumn foliage of ‘Arnold Promise’ witch hazel.

The Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, below) are late in turning this year, with only a few scattered branches changing so far. It won’t be long, I am certain. Often, the oakleafs turn early and stay late, long into December, and it seems that these will change soon.

Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ with large yellow leaves in early November.
Some leaves are drab, no matter if there’s drought or ideal autumn weather. Leaves of the Bigleaf leaf magnolia fade, then drop with no interest.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. M. Wilson says:

    I have several Japanese maples that need to be slightly pruned. Just 3 or 4 branches that have encroached too far. When is the correct time of year for that? Fall or Spring? The leaves are still on the trees at this point.

    1. Dave says:

      Japanese maples should be pruned when they are dormant, so typically from November through March in this area. I have several large limbs on maples that are planted close to the house that must be removed. I was thinking this weekend, but there’s plenty of time so I can wait until the weather is good. Even with leaves still on some Japanese maples, it is a certainty with cold temperatures here to stay for awhile that pruning will not encourage new growth.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    In some regions, yellow is the norm. Except for the native poison oak, all the species that provide orange and red here are exotic. (We are getting rather weak color so far too, but our season is just beginning.) The brilliant yellow of the cottonwoods in riparian areas of the Mojave Desert is spectacular against and empty blue sky and the bleakness of the landscape, but alas, is rather monochromatic.

    1. Dave says:

      Local leaf watchers were disappointed when leaves were stripped by rain. A week ago, leaves that remained turned brown in a hard freeze.

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