Friday, December 9, 2016

Finally, a little foliage color

With the official start of winter close at hand and much of the nation beset by an arctic blast, we're finally getting a bit of foliage color in coastal southern California.  I thought it was late this year but, when I look back at earlier posts, I see that I didn't report on foliage color until mid-January of this year so it appears that the schedule isn't running late at all.

The brightest spots of fall/winter color aren't on our property.  They're across the street in the neighbors' front garden.

These noID maples across the street put on a good show every year


But I do have a few plants that turn color when our temperatures drop, as they have in the last few weeks.

Abelia x grandiflora

One of the 2 species of guava trees in my garden, neither of which I can definitively identify

This peach tree was uncovered when the gigantic Yucca elephantipes was removed.  It sits at the unfenced boundary line between us and our next-door neighbor at the bottom of our back slope.

Persimmon 'Fuyu' produced some colorful foliage, while the leaves of 'Hachiya' simply turned brown and dropped


I've got berries developing on the Nandina domestica, the Auranticarpa rhombifolium, the self-planted noID Cotoneaster and the Arbutus 'Marina' trees but nothing does berries here like Heteromeles arbutifolia, commonly known as the California Holly or Toyon.

This tree-like shrub sits on the backyard boundary between us and our next-door neighbor


Some plants are confused.  The fig tree dropped most of its leaves in response to the heat in late summer and early fall but, when the temperatures cooled and we got some rain, fresh new leaves began to appear.

Fresh new fig leaves contrasting with one of the older leaves still on the tree


Meanwhile, the ornamental pear, Pyrus calleryana, the tree that produces the largest mass of colorful leaves on our property, looks as green as it did in mid-summer.

The tree is just now dropping its tiny unpalatable fruits and the first few leaves are coloring up


I checked my photos to see when the Pyrus turned color in prior years and it appears that it's also right on schedule.  I should see more color within the next several weeks.   I clearly need to shake the perception that foliage color is a fall phenomenon - here it's really a brief winter event.

Best wishes for a colorful weekend, wherever you are.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

17 comments:

  1. You do get some nice, if brief, winter foliage color. Your California Holly is stunning!

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    1. There's a reason that the California Holly/Heteromeles is the official native plant of Los Angeles!

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  2. My most vivid changing leaves, are the fiddlewood.
    Turning orange as a herald of summer.

    Toyon looks moreish!

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    1. The fiddlewood is unknown to me but sounds like a very nice plant, albeit one apparently not grown or sold in this area. The birds love the Toyon berries but humans don't find them particularly tasty and, as they contain a cyanide compound, eating too many could kill one.

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  3. I was going to comment on the inappropriateness of planting maples in SoCal, but then I remembered trident maple and Cretan maple are both quite drought-tolerant. I wonder if the ones in your neighbor's yard are either of those, though. Your toyon is wonderful!

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    1. I checked my Sunset garden guide last night to see if I could figure out which maples my neighbors have. According to that source, there are relatively few suited to our zones (Sunset 23/24) - Acer capillipes, Acer sacchariinum and Acer truncatum. The latter seems the closest to what they have, at least in terms of their fall color. Whatever they are, they annoy the tree-hater up the street almost as much as my trees do ;)

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  4. I suspect your no ID maple is a sweetgum. Can you get a photo of a leaf?

    The differences are:

    1. leaves: sweetgum usually has five points (lobes) with serrated edges; maple also can have five points, but they are not so evenly spaced and they are lobed again (not saw-toothed)

    2. seeds: sweetgum has porcupine golf balls that fall down and go bonk; maple has samaras, a pair of seeds with wings that twirl down gently like helicopters

    3. branching: sweetgum has leaves and small branches attached alternately, maple has them opposite

    Anyway, just show me a leaf!

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    1. I'm somewhat familiar with liquidambers (my mother-in-law's house had some) and don't recall seeing those characteristic balls but I'll have to check the leaves.

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    2. Ah ... if you know sweetgum, then it's probably not that.

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  5. I never think of 'fall' in warmer areas of the country, but CA and FL do have leaf-drop and dormancy as I've learned. Your neighbors house could be in New England with those maples!

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    1. As Jane pointed out, liquidambers also provide vivid fall color and we have those in the area too. I'll need to check my neighbors' trees more closely to determine whether it is indeed a maple but maples do grow here. There was a VERY large one in the backyard of my childhood home 50 miles to the north.

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  6. You're doing well on fall color; I have only our pomegranate and some color on Hamelia patens... I think. Maybe I should have a better look round ;-) I love the color of the peach foliage! Does it fruit for you? Our apricot is most disappointing when it comes to autumn leaves!

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    1. That poor peach tree has been horribly abused after years and years of being engulfed by the giant yucca. It did develop some fruit but that never survived to ripen. Whether the drought caused the immature fruit to drop or critters carried it off, I'm not sure.

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  7. I am glad you are getting some cooler temperatures. The berries on your California holly are amazing! Both of our persimmon trees, Fuyu and Tamopan, have pretty fall foliage. In fact, I have been impressed with the ease of care, as well as the beauty of the foliage and the delicious fruit these trees produce.

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    1. The first 2 years we were here (we're about to witness the 6th anniversary of our move), we got glorious color on our persimmons. There's been less and less in the following years - the leaves on 'Hachiya' go straight to brown and drop now, although we get a little color on 'Fuyu' sh shown in my post. I suspect this is yet another drought impact. I'm glad you've gotten some rain - you're well ahead of us on your rain totals from the sound of it.

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  8. Oh no, you have a callery pear, too? Yours looks as healthy as any I've seen. No mistletoe, no fireblight (problems our remaining one has).

    Do you have ginkgo trees around? They produce excellent fall color. Or Chinese pistache?

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    1. I like the winter color on the ornamental pear, which came with the house, but I do hate the fruit drop, which is just now reaching the point of becoming truly annoying. I had the tree trimmed last weekend when I had the tree service in so perhaps that will reduce the litter a bit.

      The only trees that color up in the entire neighborhood seem to be those across the street. I haven't seen any gingkos here or in the surrounding area. They should grow fine here, although their mature height would be an issue under the local view ordinance, at least in my garden. I might be able to get away with a pistache if it were planted at the bottom of the slope but it would crowd the lemon tree.

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