Autumn color

Nope, too early for autumn leaves to show much color, but there’s plenty of color in the garden. Some flowers, some berries, and the seed capsules of the Korean Sweetheart tree (Euscaphis japonica). The tree grew considerably in autumn a year ago, and for whatever reason the leaves hung on far too long into early winter. There was reason to doubt the Sweetheart’s health this spring with alternate spells of growth and wilting, and several dead branches, but it seems that’s over with. I was surprised to see the colorful seed capsules since I didn’t notice it flowering.

I’m hoping that the young tree gets onto a regular schedule that was perhaps interrupted a year ago with a dose of fertilizer in late spring. I haven’t fertilized anything in the past decade since the garden has grown up, but there were a few handfuls left in an old bag, and certainly I was anxious to give the small Sweetheart tree a bit of a boost. It jumped from knee to waist high, but of course I didn’t intend for it to grow so late in the season. In any case, no more fertilizer, and a teaser of one clump of seed capsules with the hope of better things to come next year.

Tricyrtis ‘Lightning Strike’

A few partially shaded toad lilies (Tricyrtis, above and below) are just beginning to flower while others have been flowering for a month or longer. There is a bit of a balancing act to plant in more sun to push flowers earlier so they aren’t nipped by early frosts, but there is enough shelter from the late summer sun that the leaves are not fried. Today, there are some fried leaves, in particular with ‘Miyazaki’ that has provided handfuls of seedlings that were planted into sunnier spots because all the ideal locations were taken. It hardly matters that there’s too much sun as long as you’re not disturbed by brown edged leaves. Some days I think this is a problem, others not so much, and if I really had something that needed one of these spots I could be convinced to dig one out to pot up to give away.

Tricyrtis ‘Miyazaki’

While too much sun isn’t best, in too shaded a location taller types stretch and lean, and of course this is also less than ideal. The best spots are in a part day sun, with shade from the late afternoon summer sun, if possible, But, if not, more sun is better, I think, and why would any garden be without these delightful late summer and autumn bloomers?

One of many toad lilies whose identities have been long forgotten.

I think, again, that I have reached the point where differences in flowers of toad lilies are indistinguishable, so I should not spend more on new varieties. The best locations are gone anyway, but still I haven’t had much luck with yellow flowered types, so I could sneak a few more in, somewhere.

The beautyberries (Callicarpa, above and below) are doing what they do best, and yes, ones in more sun flower and berry heavier than those that are more shaded. Still, what other color is there in the heavily shaded side of the garden? The smaller clusters of purple berries stand out, so fine, there are fewer berries, but I’m happy to have them.

Somewhere between late autumn and spring I chopped an overly vigorous white berried beautyberry that was climbing far up into an ‘Okame’ cherry beside the koi pond. At first, the effect of the white berries twenty feet into the cherry was surprising, and accepted, but it became a bit too much of a mess. Messes are regularly tolerated, sometimes even encouraged here, but this passed the point of acceptable behavior. So, I struggled my way through the cluttered understory branches of Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’), a wide spreading ‘Tardiva’ hydrangea, and an American holly seedling (Ilex opaca) that has grown to thirty feet to chop the beautyberry down to knee high. I’m not fighting the debris to get back in there to see how it’s recovered, but I don’t see a sign of it from a distance. This one area of autumn color is not missed.

Hyacinth bean
Helianthus ‘Autumn Gold’

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Bonnie C. says:

    Love your Toad Lilies! I have a few (or may have to say “had”, as I haven’t checked lately), but rarely if ever get to see them flower thanks to deer predation. For some reason the deer love to snip off & eat the blooms, although usually leave the foliage alone.

    1. Dave says:

      Yes, toad lilies definitely need to be sprayed with a repellent. I’ve had deer nibble earlier in the season, but particularly when there are buds or flowers.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Beautyberry! ‘Our Forest Garden’ sent me my first seedlings and cuttings just recently. I had never met the species before.They are the native sort that grow wild, rather than a garden variety, which is what I preferred. However, in the future, I may get a garden variety with white berries.

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