A chilly autumn afternoon

Coloring of leaves of the ‘Bloodgood’ Japanese maple is richest when leaves have newly emerged, and then in the last days before leaves drop to carpet the front walk (below). Today, as the deep red has begun to dry and darken, a fierce autumn breeze has swept the bluestone path clear. My wife stops in mid question, realizing it was the chilly breeze, not me, that did the sweeping.

This is the first day when winter feels near, when long sleeves are ill suited to halt the chill while I dig out a struggling columnar spruce to be replaced by a variegated leaf redbud (below) discovered in my summer travels. The tree will be delivered in a few days, and with dense surrounding plantings the hole has been dug so the delivery crew can assist in routing the redbud to do the least damage. There are, of course, no leaves to admire, but another reason to be impatient for spring’s arrival.

The mutated variegation found on a Rising Sun redbud in a field of trees in the mountains of North Carolina. The tree grew with unusual vigor, with the distinctive orange new growth of Rising Sun, but with mottled green and yellow foliage. I’m anxious to see it in leaf in the spring.

Leaves in the wooded side garden are piled deeply, with foliage of tulip poplar, maple, and blackgum from the forest bordering the garden mixed with leaves of planted dogwoods, beech, and Bigleaf magnolia. The breeze exposes small areas of soil, while piling leaves to bury a small, gold speckled Japanese aucuba. After a few weeks the deepest piles will be moved to uncover evergreens, and after a rain or two the ten inch piles will settle to half the depth until leaves finally decay by late spring.

With overnight temperatures forecast to fall into the low twenties, I am curious to see what becomes of flowers of Encore azaleas (above) that were tardy getting a start on their autumn flowering cycle. Flowers of autumn camellias (below) are usually damaged in the low twenties, but warmer days will follow and there are many buds remaining to bloom.

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