Saturday, February 17, 2018

Foliage Follow-up: The return of the ring of fire

Last February, in a Wednesday Vignette, I featured the "ring of fire" that periodically appears to surround my backyard borders.  It's back, shining brighter than any of the nearby flowers, so I thought it warranted coverage in this month's Foliage Follow-up post, a feature hosted by Pam of Digging following Bloom Day to demonstrate the valuable role foliage plays in every garden.

My "ring of fire" is created by the new growth on the Xylosma congestum hedge that borders the beds in the backyard garden

This hedge gets trimmed 3-4 times a year to maintain its height and, while the new growth that follows a trimming always takes on a bronze tone, it's particularly vivid in early spring


The red in the new spring foliage growth is prominent in other plants too.

The new growth of Agonis flexuosa 'Nana', a dwarf peppermint willow, also takes on a red tinge


Speaking of red tones, some of my Aeoniums, green rosettes when I planted them, have colored up nicely this year too.

Weather conditions and reduced water (in other words, stress) probably account for the color change from green to red in the case of these Aeonium arboreum.  However, I've grown Aeoniums in this spot for years and this is the first time they've assumed such a deep color.  Pretty, though, aren't they?


Other Aeoniums drew my attention for a less positive reason.

When I saw damage to my Aeoniums along these lines last year, I assumed I had a problem with snails or slugs


This year the culprit responsible for the damage revealed himself.

The white-crowned sparrows migrate through here during the winter months.  Apparently, they like Aeoniums!  They're creating a lot more damage this year.  Our backyard fountain sprung a leak and is currently shut down for repair so perhaps my fine-feathered friends have become dependent on the succulent leaves to quench their thirst.


That's my Foliage Follow-up for February.  Visit Pam at Digging for more.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

26 comments:

  1. I'm not sure shearing hedges is my thing though the end result acts as a foil for the garden. The purple bronze of the hedge is striking. Aeoniums are my wife's favourite. Unfortunately they are not reliably hardy enough even n our sunniest position so we have to over winter them. White Crowned Sparrows, Kris. I make do with the common-o-garden ones. Bet they make the same sound.

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    1. Shearing hedges isn't my thing either, Ian, but we inherited a LOT of hedges with this garden. They're used here in lieu of fences. I originally thought that I could maintain the garden entirely on my own but it was the hedges that convinced me that I needed to employ some help. Since we removed the lawn, hedge trimming (and blowing leaves) is pretty much all the garden crew needs to do and I fear they sometimes get carried away. If only they'd pull some weeds...

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  2. It's hard to get too upset with a sparrow! Hope the plants can recover easily. I love the red on your Aeonium arboreum.

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    1. Last year, I trimmed the damaged Aeoniums out and that's what I plan to do this year. They've definitely made more of a mess this time but perhaps if we get the fountain back up and running within the next day or 2, they'll give the succulents up.

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    2. try putting pans of water out for the birds

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    3. Thanks for the suggestion, Tracy. The fountain's back in service this morning, though, so I hope that will draw the birds - it's just feet away.

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  3. making good use of those luscious leaves!

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    1. As my husband pointed out, Aeonium leaves are loaded with water!

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  4. That's one handsome ring of fire! Sorry about your aeonium damage; hopefully they'll be able to recover.

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    1. The damaged rosettes will never look the same but the plants themselves should be fine. I won't be cutting off the damaged rosettes until the swallows move on to their next destination, though.

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  5. Interesting cause of the Aeonium damage, I never would have guessed. I like the idea of hedges instead of fences, except for the need to maintain them of course.

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    1. It never occurred to me that birds could be responsible when I saw similar damage last year. As the fountain is back up and running again as of this morning, hopefully they'll satisfy their thirst there (assuming they haven't developed an appetite for Aeoniums!).

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    2. I've caught birds nipping off small succulent leaves in my garden too. They can really do some damage.

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    3. And here I was last year blaming the snails and slugs!

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  6. I'm glad you've got some help with the clipping, especially on the slope the other side of that hedge!

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    1. There is NO way I could trim the back portion of that hedge along the slope, Jessica.

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  7. That new growth on the Xylosma must be something to look forward to. I love seeing red tones in foliage, and you have some beautiful ones!

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    1. Actually, I never think about the hedge's transformation much in advance but it immediately grabs my attention when it happens, delighting in the manner of a magic trick.

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  8. That ring of fiery foliage is striking. And drought-stressed succulents do have pretty colors, don't they?

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    1. The odd thing about those dark Aeoniums, Pam, is that others just feet away remain green and I could swear the latter plants supplied the rosettes I used to start the new batch last year.

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  9. Hi Kris, I enjoyed this post thinking about foliage colour. Ring of fire sounds very dramatic and its apt because it does look dramatic. Interesting that birds break the leaves of succulents to get a drink.

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    1. In retrospect, I suspect the same migrating sparrows were responsible for the damage done to the Aeoniums last year too but the drier condition this year and the fountain's outage made their role more evident. They are persistent! I scare them off but, as soon as I walk away, they're back.

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  10. I enjoyed both your blooms and foliage posts Kris. I imagine that the little sparrows must be grateful for the alternative liquid refreshment that you are so kindly providing. Are you rushing now to get the fountain fixed?

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    1. My husband responded to my entreaties, getting the fountain back in operation yesterday. It came with the garden, is made of poured concrete, and is prone to cracks that lead to leaks. It developed a lot of leaks all of a sudden recently so, either my raccoon friends jostled the fountain during one of their many night visits, or we had a mild earthquake.

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  11. I have Photinia along one boundary here too!

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    1. Our ring is created by Xylosma but it's the same effect as Photinia, Christina. Enjoy your splash of red while it lasts!

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