Friday, November 9, 2012

Big leaves, no color

I had a dream a few weeks ago. This was one of those dreams that comes back strongly throughout the next day, washing over you with a vision so strong that for a moment it feels more like a memory than a dream.

In the dream I was in bed on a sunny morning, lying there lazily the way you only can when the sun is shining and the sky blue, with nothing planned but a day of puttering around in the garden. It was an autumn morning but still warm enough we were sleeping with the window open. I lay there admiring the burning red color of the huge Tetrapanax leaves and thinking how beautiful they were, maybe even gloating a bit about how smart I was to have planted the Tetrapanax where I could admire it from bed.

That was it; the entire dream was just about how beautiful those leaves were.

There are two things "wrong" with this dream; first of all I can’t see any of my 3 patches of Tetrapanax from my bedroom window. Secondly, there is not a bit of red in even the best Tetrapanax leaf come autumn. This is as good as it gets…

Or maybe this, a big golden leaf...

Remembering that dream I got to thinking about how all of my “big leaves” really come up short this time of the year. Here's another Tetrapanax doing NOTHING....

This one is thinking about blooming. I've never seen a Tetrapanax bloom in my garden, the only other time I've had one even come close to blooming a freeze got it before anything really developed.

I thought the big leaves of Rheum palmatum (Ornamental Rhubarb) might put on a colorful show but so far, not.

No color from the silly Musa Basjoo...

Bocconia frutescens is supposed to be evergreen, so I shouldn't be seeing any color here, but some of the lower leaves are turning golden. That's probably not a good sign. I guess if it's fall color I'm after this is an instance when a Hydrangea quercifolia would be a better choice.

Although these little nubbins (I'd love to know the correct term) are getting bigger and look to be a sign of the plants overall health.

While I am appreciative of the lovely color of my Melianthus major 'Antonow's Blue' that's the same shade it's been all year...

No color here. But then the only color I might be seeing from this Alocasia is brown when the leaves freeze. Since our first frost is predicted for tonight or tomorrow night maybe I should be doing something to protect these...

Syneilesis aconitifolia golden yes. Beautiful, no.

And my final example of big leaves with no fabulous seasonal color...

Magnolia macrophylla

This is the best "colorful leaf" I could find.

Maybe this lack of color in the big leaves is natures way of evening the score? Smaller leaves finally get all the attention for October and November while the big leaves retreat into the background.

If you've got a big leaf that displays a little seasonal color in your garden I'd love to hear about it!

42 comments:

  1. I don't have any...but Darmera peltata (which I always mistake for Astilboides in gardens) usually has fabulous fall color. I would plant some in a minute...but I'm never able to keep things with big leaves from scorching...and like most things...they get the best color when grown in full sun. I sort of think that since most tropicals didn't evolve to experience winter dormancy, they don't "ramp-down" and change color like plants that evolved in more temperate climates do.

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    1. Of course your right about the tropicals which go from happy unaware growing bliss to SMACK! You're done for the season (or worse). I just keep hoping...

      I wish my Darmera peltata had stuck around long enough for it to color up, I neglected to water it for a couple of days in a row during the no rain period and it protested by drying up.

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  2. Our native bigleaf maple turns golden yellow. Of course, the tree itself gets huge too, so you probably don't have room for it. You might not get any color even if you did have an oakleaf hydrangea. I have one and it seems to have decided it is a broadleaf evergreen. It kept a lot of green leaves all last winter. It seems to be doing the same thing this year. We've had a heavy frost the last two nights, and it's still going.

    My Darmera scorched over the summer too, and it got a fair amount of overspray from my grass sprinklers.

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    1. I do love to see the bigleaf Maple glowing this time of the year, but you're right too big for my garden. Luckily for me the park at the end of the street has a lovely collection.

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  3. Hello Loree,

    I can't think of anything other than Darmera either for big leaves and autumn colour.

    My Paulownia tomentosa put on an interesting show this year though. We had some early frosts which caught the leaves and made them go brown and crispy and then it went fairly calm for a few days and the brown leaves looked like great big poppadoms attached to the trunk.

    On the subject of Darmera mine did poorly this year and only sent up 4 very feeble leaves when it will normally send up at least 20. I hope it recovers for next year.

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    1. Adam I had been wondering what happened to you, good to hear from you!

      I had to look it up to see what a poppadom is, now I can totally picture your Paulownia! Sounds pretty cool.I suppose I should get my Darmera out of the container it's in and into the ground.

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    2. Hello Loree,

      I have been around and viewing your blog (I loved the Japanese garden the other day, such beautiful colours!)

      However, my mood is a bit odd at the moment, nothing serious, but the onset of Autumn and the ever shortening day length sucks the motivation out of me.

      Your Darmera would appreciate being in the ground and the wetter the better.

      I can't believe that you do not know what a poppadom is. Whilst the UK and US share a lot of things some parts of each our cultures are quite different.

      I thought about you the other day when I saw this article:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/jan/20/five-best-places-to-live-in-world

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    3. I completely understand about the mood. Thank goodness we had a little sun last week. The rain came on too strong around here.

      My husband didn't know what a poppadom was either...

      That article was funny. I really don't understand what's so fabulous about Portland. It's a fine place but just not "all that" I did particularly find this sentence amusing: "The weather: like Britain, but more so… hotter and colder and danker." I don't think I like being referred to as "danker"

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  4. No real color in my big leaves either. I do have some nice color in smaller leaves I documented in my last post (http://mulchmaid.blogspot.com/2012/11/more-of-my-favorite-color.html). I am actually loving the multitude of my neighbor's fallen bronze pin oak leaves adding blobs of color to all my back-garden foliage.

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    1. That last line "fallen bronze pin oak leaves adding blobs of color to all my back-garden foliage" paints a beautiful picture Jane!

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  5. This is not the most flattering time of the year for magnolia macrophylla! I can't think of anything other than what's been mentioned that has big colorful leaves. Maybe you had a vision of your future garden in the tropics and mistook the large colorful leaves for tetrapanax. When you move, can I come visit?

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    1. Of course you can! I don't know if I could handle life in the tropics though. Being more of a desert lover.

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  6. If you can get hold of a big leaf fig like Ficus carica 'Adam' you'd probably love it's autumn colour. Very huge (for a ficus anyway) leaves with golden yellow colour in the the autumn(like a ripe banana) hanging down gracefully from the branches, it was a sight to behold (How I wish I had taken a photo of it now, too late!). What I liked about it is that all the leaves remained hanging for awhile with such a gorgeous colour before they fell almost at the same time.

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    1. Oh I like that idea, Ficus carica 'Adam' has gorgeous leaves. Even though you didn't take a photo your description of the sight is just as good!

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  7. My Acanthus spinosa colors up nicely. It's past its prime for this year, so you will just have to take my word for it. I've posted about it in the past, but I can never find those old posts when I go looking...can you?

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    1. Really? An Acanthus with great color sounds wonderful. I did find this http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/2553 when I searched your blog, so does it go dormant in the winter time?

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    2. Sort of...I leave the flower spikes standing 'til spring, pull off the old leaves when they get mushy, which reveals new growth (little tuffets of leaves that go through the winter before stretching out.

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  8. You've described what happens here in South Texas when the weather begins to cool down. We don't have a lot of color, just yellow, brown and gone. If we get an early freeze there's a mushy phase in there too.

    Those who move from other climates and love the change of seasons complain about it every year.

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    1. Interesting, I had no idea. I guess living my entire life in Washington and Oregon the fall show is so ingrained in my being it would be an odd thing to not see each year. Even in parts of New Mexico and Arizona last fall we enjoyed gorgeous color.

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    2. I'm sooo glad you escaped!!! This morning I escaped it too. There was no frost to speak of at my house and a low of 36F. But just a few minutes down the road from here it was frozen solid and everything was white with frost. YUCK! I was so happy to escape that. Ironically thursday morning was frosty for me with a low of 38F. Waaaay tooo cold for this guy! I'll see what tonight holds. It feels freaking nasty cold right now though.

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  9. Yep, all my Tetrapanax decided they'd just completely shrug off the few frosts we've had, and they're not even in a sheltered spot--until this week when they got snowed on. From green to toast in 24 hours.

    Magnolia tripetala, the smaller-leaved-but-still-big-leaved cousin of macrophylla, has pretty decent fall color. My Aralia spinosa colored up well this year too. I wonder about Magnolia sieboldii 'Colossus'? The species has pretty good fall color, based on the one photo I could find of it online in a random blog post: http://is.gd/XyqnHb

    And Vitis coignetiae!

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    1. Oh I do love Aralia spinosa...and that Magnolia sieboldii 'Colossus' looks to be a stunner. What are you doing to me...I don't have room for these but now I want them. And Vitis coignetiae too!...damn.

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  10. Love all of your big leaves! If you want color - would castor bean grow in your area? Have to be cautious with the "beans," but you are the DANGER GARDEN, after all. The stems, veins and pods are glowingly red. Maybe this is an invasive for you??? Don't know much about them outside of the midwest climate, but they are a great impact plant here.
    Deb

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    1. I love Castor Bean, you're right it's a fabulous plant and a perfect one for a dangerous garden! My only experience growing them has been failure, but there are a few people here in town who have been very successful. Maybe I need to try again!

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  11. who needs fall colour when you can have big, bold and beautiful lusciousness like that!!!!! Seriously I'm drooling over your antonow's blue melianthus. It has to be a current fav for me. I was pestering the nursery about getting them in next season so I can buy them all! Just think in a few weeks when all the autumn leaves are gone and your garden looks like the happiest house on the street... then you won't be missing no fall colour!!!!

    Ps- its the year of summer and I choose to believe that there will not be any frost or freeze to speak of tonight. its not allowed. So don't worry.

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    1. Very good point Louis! My front garden especially is intended to keep me happy through the winter months. With the exception of the Tetrapanax and Rheum everything else just keeps on looking good.

      And you were right, no frost last night and now they've raised the predicted temp for tonight. Hopefully you escaped too.

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  12. Given the choice, I'd take some of those bold leaves over fall color-especially if I could grow them outdoors all year round. I am scouting out a spot for a Tetrapanax. Maybe with spring planting and winter protection...a girl cam dream, right?

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    1. You should definitely give it a try! I'd say that I'd send you a couple of babies that way you could try for free but I don't have the best luck transplanting them. Still, if you'd like just say the word.

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    2. Thanks Loree-I've got plants that don't transplant well either. No need to take a chance. I'll take a look around next spring and see if I can find one locally. Most likely mail order will be my best option though.

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  13. Yes,yes indeed, too true. All those large leaved tropicals really look best in summer. Hydreangea quercifolia is the only plant I have that gets any fall color

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    1. Hydreangea quercifolia...maybe. Hard to imagine my actually buying a Hydrangea though...

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  14. Really like the glimpses of your garden - it is so different from my midwest garden. Love to see what you can grow. Thanks for the insight.

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    1. Thank you Claudia, of course none of these are actually very happy pictures. Things were better in the high summer!

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  15. Since I grew up in LA and lived in San Diego before I high-tailed it to Northern California, I appreciate the fall colors a lot.I think traditional fall foliage would look kind of strange in the Danger Garden..you can always walk around the neighborhood to get a 'fix' right ?

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    1. Good point...and in fact just looking out my windows I get to enjoy a couple of flame maples, a lovely japanese maple and a sumac.

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  16. Just one of those falls I suppose.

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    1. As someone who's known as a bit of a klutz that sentence could be taken two ways.

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  17. My aralia elata were looking colourful. Show's nearly over now though.

    My experience of ricinus is that they don't like being kept in a pot.

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    1. I did plant my Ricinus in the ground...I think the problem for me was bad timing. It was a particularly wet and cold summer that year.

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  18. We are unable to grow any of those big beauties, but they really would be stunning if they colored up a bit. Furthur north we do get great fall foliage, a beautiful time of year here, I guess every area has its pros and cons!

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    1. Yikes! I opened your blog link only to see a picture of snow! That's scary...so much for your fall foliage eh?

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  19. One out of the six years I have had Tetrapanax, it had good fall color. The leaves were sort of a tobacco gold, but the ribs were a nice purply color. All the other years it met winter abruptly and could not be called pretty.

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