Saturday, September 16, 2017

Foliage Follow-up - The first signs of fall

With the return of cooler temperatures in coastal Southern California, I've thrown myself into a variety of fall garden projects and had just about forgotten that it was time to celebrate the foliage in my garden with Pam at Digging, who hosts the Foliage Follow-up meme on the 16th of each month after Bloom Day.  The first foliage plant that caught my eye was Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku', also known as coral bark maple.  It's one of just 2 Japanese maples in my garden.  I've tried growing others but our summer heat, water restrictions, and exposure to heavy winds makes my garden relatively inhospitable for these beautiful trees.  'Sango Kaku' is a delightful exception and she's already showing a bit of fall color too, something else that is in short supply here.

This east facing spot next to the garage offers protection from the wind, morning sun, and shade from the hot afternoon sun, which seems to be just what the maple wants


My other Japanese maple is the dwarf, Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa'.  Unfortunately, it doesn't handle summer heat as well as the coral bark maple.  Last winter, I moved it from the backyard to a more protected area in the cutting garden in the hope that would improve its performance.  It may have helped some but the lengthy heatwave that began in late August and extended into early September was too much for it.  Just as it did last year in the back garden, it prematurely dropped all its leaves.  However, this week, I noticed that it responded to the small amount of rain we got from a surprise September thunderstorm and our current cooler temperatures by producing new, spring-like growth.

It still looks fairly bare but the bright green foliage helps its appearance a little


Meanwhile, in the back garden, Jacaranda mimosifolia 'Bonsai Blue', the tree that replaced the dwarf maple in its former location, took the long heatwave in stride.

Planted last December, the tree handled its first summer here with no trouble


Before I close this post, I'll mention another sign of fall, albeit an unwelcome one.  My mimosa tree, Albizia julibrissin, has moved to the next stage of its messy annual cycle.  Having littered my garden with a fuzzy mass of dried brown flowers for months, it's now dropping its leaves and its seedpods.  This week, while taking photos for bloom Day, I saw this:

This Albizia seedling was hiding behind a mass of Agapanthus foliage along a dirt path I travel infrequently.  I fear that one day the Albizia seedlings will get away from e and I'll wake up in a forest of mimosa trees.


I immediately pulled up the seedling, which was already nearly 2 feet tall.  The foliage was darker than that of my mature tree and brought the hybrid form Albizia 'Summer Chocolate' to mind but, pretty as it might have been, I couldn't bring myself to invite another of those messy trees into my garden.

This photo of the seedling sitting in a tub waiting to be hauled out to the compost bin shows its darker color better than the first photo


For more Foliage Follow-up posts, visit Pam at Digging.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

24 comments:

  1. Kris, I've always failed to stablish Japanese Acer Palmatum here, they definitely don't like heat - dry or humid- and it's a real pity because they are spectacular trees, I've had similar problem with japanese cherry blossoms I always lose them to rot root during the rainiest months. I have two jacaranda bonsai trees (and two big ones in the ground) I've never been very fond of them because they are VERY messy trees, their hard seed pods are a problem when I have to mow the lawn and they seed themselves around madly! Have a wonderful Sunday!

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    1. Jacarandas have the reputation of being very messy here too, MDN, but I'm hoping that this dwarf will be easier to manage. At least I've never seen them self-seed here - perhaps we don't get enough rain for that!

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  2. What a big and beautiful maple! In Poland, where I live, Japanese maples sometimes don't survive the winters so we have to cover them. But I think they're worth a try. Greetings!

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    1. We're lucky, Dewberry - we never get freezes here. However, the Japanese maples do tend to scorch in our summer heat. I keep trying them in different spots but, so far, this one spot next to our garage is the only place the tree has fared well.

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  3. My Acers suffered in the drought. I suspect the proper climate appropriate version of them for our region is likely an Arctostaphylos, so I'm experimenting to see if that proves to be true. No autumn color from Arctostaphylos, but only one display of autumn Acer color here in 18 years.

    Your Albizzia is a beautiful tree, but such litter! I wouldn't have your patience. My Cercis that were a lesser plague (I'm still digging out seedlings five years after removing the trees) are not missed one bit.

    I looked and looked at fresh new stock of 'Bonsai Blue' in at Roger's a few weeks ago...tempted, but... Will be attentive to see how yours does.

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    1. If the Albizia didn't have such a prominent place in my back garden, I might think more seriously of taking it down. As it is, taking it out would dramatically alter the entire area and possibly destabilize the slope it sits atop. Replacing a tree that large would also be difficult. However, that reality doesn't stop me from complaining endlessly about its messy behavior.

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  4. I think it's funny that I live in Japanese maple central and, like you, I only have two in the garden. I couldn't even tell you their names. One is a weeping red laceleaf that my parents purchased as a tiny sapling around the time they were married. Another is an upright, green-leafed variety my father picked up with the intention of turning into a bonsai and then decided to give up and plant it in the garden. I like Japanese maples. I just always seem to spend my money on other plants.

    Oh, my, that mimosa certainly is a weedy thing in your climate.

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    1. It's funny how the plants that are easiest to grow are often the most under-valued, Evan. That could be said of Agapanthus here - they're so common, people don't even consider buying them.

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  5. Hah! I have no Japanese maples. Apparently they love our climate, but I don't particularly love them. I have a couple of native vine maples, which I prefer. When I saw the new foliage on your 'Mikawa Yatsubusa' I thought Oh no! That tender new growth will get destroyed by first frost. And then I thought, D'oh! What am I saying?

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    1. If we were to get a freeze here, Alison, I'd probably go into shock! While freezes do happen in the inland valleys, I can only remember one in the South Bay area and that was probably 20 or more years ago.

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  6. I don't think I'd put that mimosa tree in the compost. They spread so well that you might end up with giant if it takes root somehow. You're lucky that that's the only seedling that you've found. I always enjoy seeing your garden, even the mimosa tree.

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    1. It's the only really big seedling I've found, Barbara, but I find small ones everywhere, even in the cracks between the patio paving stones. They pop up at intervals throughout the year, becoming more common when our rainy season starts. I guess this one got a boost from the thunderstorm that passed through earlier this month.

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  7. I'd love to be able to grow a jacaranda! And wow, I'm surprised you're seeing a bit of fall color already. My Japanese maple won't do anything color-wise until December here in Austin.

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    1. 'Sango Kaku' always seems to show color early, as soon as our nighttime temperatures drop, Pam. Unfortunately, many of the deciduous trees, like the persimmons, drop their burned foliage before the temperatures drop sufficiently to color up the leaves.

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  8. I have seen those jacaranda trees in bloom and they are gorgeous. You really have something to look forward to. What a wonderful replacement. I remember when I first moved to S cal. I thought the seasons would all be the same and was surprised when fall came and many trees lost their leaves. How naive of me! But those changes in colors on your maples are something I miss from places I have lived. My garden is too sunny to grow one here.

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    1. I've seen some impressive Japanese maples here but most, if not all, were understory trees protected from the intense summer sun. I think 'Sango Kaku' has done well here only because it's location protects it from the afternoon sun and our periodically vicious winds.

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  9. Good luck with that pesky mimosa, at least it's helping to supply you with compost. The little Jacaranda looks very happy and healthy. Lovely trees.

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    1. I'm very happy with the dwarf Jacaranda thus far, Sue. I expect that any flowers it drops will fall within the border so, hopefully, it won't cause the mess that the tall Jacarandas grown as street trees can cause here.

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  10. Our Japanese Maples do the same thing during the heat of summer unless they are really well protected. I love your Jacaranda tree (or I will love it's blooms when they occur). Yours looks like it's enjoying it new home.

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    1. The Jacaranda produced a few blooms earlier this summer, Rebecca. I hope the blooms will be more profuse as the tree grows.

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  11. I thought of you the other day when I saw the first ever seed pods on my Albizia 'Summer Chocolate'... I will not be happy if seedlings become an issue. Although I could probably make some money selling them!

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    1. I literally shudder whenever I see Albizias for sale locally, Loree, even though I find 'Summer Chocolate' very attractive. However, my guess is that your colder winters might well keep Albizia seedlings from taking over. Regrettably, nothing but a good yank out of the ground controls them here.

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  12. I love Japanese maples but they are a bit tricky. They really hate wind. I love the feathery jacaranda and albizzia foliage too. What a shame to throw away the dark leafed seedling. But I suppose you haven't room for a forest of them.

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    1. I think it was our afternoon winds that knocked out at least 2 of the Japanese maples I tried in this garden, although the intense summer sun did them no favors either. I wish I could find another spot to protect them from both sun and wind but the location next to the garage and perhaps one other spot against the back of the house currently occupied by Camellias appear to be the only viable options. As to the Albizia, I'm not sure they're worth growing here - their ugly phase is far longer than their 1-2 month attractive phase.

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