We had a day of life-giving rain yesterday. That’s the good news. But days of wind, followed by yesterday’s day of rain brought most of our New England fall colors to an end around us. The mighty oaks are attempting to hang on to their russet colored leaves but the bright yellows and butterscotch leaves of maples have fallen.
However I’ve planned for that. I can still be a leaf peeper in our own backyard with our three enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) shrubs. One is ablaze of crimson shades, one a luminescent amber, and the third is a lovely mix of both shades. What a showstopper they are for us as we gaze from our window.
During the summer, the plants sport blue-green foliage and blend into the landscape, but in the spring we are rewarded with pendants of delicate bell-shaped blooms with red veins as shown in this photo from last spring. If the blooms remind you of andromeda (Pieris), it is in the same family.
These shrubs are young and slow growing. At full growth, they can reach the height of a small understory tree. I have read that they don’t like pruning but I’m hoping to be judicious in training the shrubs as they grow. It’s then they can join our other understory trees, the serviceberry trees (Amelanchier), below, that are giving us lovely orange-red fall color now and offer a profusion of spring blooms, as well.
Enkianthus…. I remember thinking it was a funny name for a plant when I was a child and heard my mother talking about the Enkianthus campanulatus in her garden. Now I have two Enkianthus campanulatus in my garden and I still think it’s a funny name…. and it’s fun to say!
It’s a native of the Far East, growing in mountainous areas of Japan and China. The Enkianthus campanulatus or the redvein enkianthus is a desirable woody plant for our zone 5-6 but for some reason it seems to be a rather uncommon choice for gardens around here. In early springtime the plant shines with heavy clusters of small pendulous bell-shaped blooms, white with red veined streaks. Bees of all kinds love them. Butterflies love them.
In the summer, it’s a nice green backdrop for other blooming plants. As glorious as it is in springtime, right now, the end of October, the shrub gives us its best display. Fall hues of coppery red and orange light up the border and bring you to a halt while walking through the yard. The fall foliage for me is more of a showstopper than the blooms of spring, a time when so much else is in color.
Enkianthus is a slow-growing plant but I hope to be around long enough to train the shrub into a small tree with layered branches to replace the Styrax japonicus, my Japanese snowbell tree that grew in this spot and died suddenly.
The peak of color has passed in our neck of the woods and life is inching closer to the dreaded leaf raking season. For the first time since moving to New Hampshire, we did not follow the thousands of foliage watchers in the jammed motorcade to the mountains. Instead we traveled the seacoast area of New Hampshire and found the colors were magic right here. The only drawback locally is dealing with telephone poles, wires, billboards, fences, and especially a plethora of POLITICAL SIGNS that obstructed or took away from the full views.
Although our first hard rain has done a job on the leaves, it’s still common to spot a tree like this one that we passed by on our walk this week.
The fading maples are giving way to later and less dramatic oak tree leaves that have already shed their acorns en masse like marbles across the landscape… causing one to be very cautious while treading on sidewalks, parking lots, etc. over which they spread their canopy.
The view from our living room faces a woodland where one of my favorite native small trees grows along the edge. It’s the native Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) that turns an attractive apricot-yellow before dropping its leaves to reveal blossoms of pale yellow that hang like tassles from stems. I cut a few branches of tassels for a flower arranging workshop that I chaired last week and the effect in one arrangement was outstanding… adding height and texture and the right color for a pale yellow container.
In Virginia’s zone 7b, I could leave most of my container plants outside all winter. Rake some leaves over pots in a sheltered corner and they’re good till spring. It’s definitely NOT what you want to do where I live in New Hampshire…. zone 5b. I tried my southern method last winter and lost all plants and the pots. I don’t have too many container plants yet as I’m still designing my small landscape… one that involves the removal of trees, a decision made by the residents in our association. Next year I may have an all sun garden and my landscape plan will change accordingly.
My favorite container I designed this summer is a variety of sedum… some bought, some bits being swept up and discarded after cleaning up around plants at work. They’re the easiest plants to root so I threw tiny leaves into the pot when I arrived home from the garden center. Most flourished. Some grew too much and had to be transplanted to the ground.
They eventually merged into one another, blending yellows, greens, reds, and blues. They grew tall. They cascaded over the pot. It was a showstopper and I want to save it. So, today, into the unheated garage the pot has gone. Sitting in the light of a window, I’ll hope for the best for this blend of magic so it can again shine for me next summer.
Fall has arrived in downtown Exeter, NH and Halloween is just around the corner. Flowers of pinks and blues filling window boxes all summer have been replaced by yellows and orange and a little bit of BOO!
After days of warm, dry weather, a cold front moved into Virginia over the weekend, dropping temperatures to the 50’s and bringing us a trace of rain. We woke this morning to a landscape filled with attention grabbing golds and yellows. Here’s what I saw on my walk today:
It won’t be long before the ginkgo leaves turn lemon yellow, then all fall in a day’s time to cover the ground like melted butter.
Crape myrtles frame mr. gardener’s winter vegetable garden in yellows and golds.
Yellows from maples, poplars, and hickories greet us on the lane.