Autumn Leaves: Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – April 2015

This month’s GBFD, hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides, happily coincides with the start of the autumn foliage display.

Unhappily, it has coincided with a long-lived four-day storm that has affected the Sydney Region, so a lot of the photos are very soggy looking as I braved consistent 90kmph / 55mph winds, sheeting rain, sleet and temperatures that did not get above 5°C / 41°F, before all of the foliage was blown off or washed away 😐


So onto the foliage…..and Maples surely are the stars of the autumn garden. Here’s the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) that I planted last April:

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Acer saccharum

It looks bright even on a soggy, gloomy day. Even in the cold morning sunlight of the prior week as it was starting to turn it is still fiery:

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Acer saccharum – as it starts to turn last week

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Acer saccharum – as it starts to turn last week


In years to come, I hope the autumn foliage stops passers-by in their tracks, just as this one did for me:

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Acer saccharum ‘Green Mountain’


Next is Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’:

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Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’

The wind and rain have been doing some terrible damage to the foliage of this one. The cypresses behind it, which will be clipped to a formal hedge when they reach 2.2m / 10′, will give this a little more protection in years to come. With its insect-like foliage, it’s a beast to photograph!

The largest Japanese Maple in the yard – about 30 years old – is starting to colour nicely:

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Acer palmatum

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ swaps its burgundy summer coat for a scarlet autumn one. Although it has scarcely grown since I planted it a year ago, it is still stunning for most of the year:

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Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’


I’ve grown four Silver/Swamp Maples (Acer saccharinum) from seed collected from a local park.

I know in the US they are considered a trash tree, but I like them: their quick growth and yellow autumn tones make them perfect for one of my four hell strips (yes I have four hell strips!) which is permanently boggy and covered in creeping buttercup. As these trees grow, they will hopefully fix some of that poor drainage:

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Will the swamp maple save the day? Lets hope so…..

The Red Maple seedling, Acer rubrum, adds some delicate pink & apricot to its display:

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Acer rubrum


Other trees, still just seedlings purchased as inexpensive bare-rooted plants (~ $4 each), are  showing their true foliage colours. With pink autumn tones, this White Dogwood (Cornus florida) will make a handsome small tree:

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Cornus florida


Still in a pot in my ‘holding area’ waiting to be planted out, is this sapling destined for another boggy spot in the lowest part of the garden.

Normally, permanently soggy conditions ruin autumn colours, but not so the Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), which has brilliant foliage:

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Nyssa sylvatica waiting to be planted out

The Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’), which started to colour quite early, still has a few bright leaves left:

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Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’


Shrubs, too, are delighting with their foliage displays. Here’s an Oakleaf Hydrangea(Hydrangea quercifolia):

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Hydrangea quercifolia

And, surprisingly, a Mophead (Hydrangea macrophylla), which isn’t normally known for autumn display is nothing short of stunning and has been in colour for weeks:

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Hydrangea macrophylla


Enkianthus starts to fire up:

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Enkianthus campanulatus


But the foliage stars of the shrubs at the moment have to be the Blueberries. Once there is a bit more growth, this is going to be trimmed as a formal, but productive, hedge and there are multiple varieties in the row (including two evergreens and one or two semi-evergreens), but just look at the colours of the foliage on the deciduous varieties:

Tasty and stunning….how good is that combination?

And, this is the view over the back fence towards town during sunny conditions last week: early autumn trees always look great against the grey-green of the Eucalypts and the deep green of the conifers:

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Taken last week before all of the storms

Happy GBFD and Happy Gardening 🙂

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31 thoughts on “Autumn Leaves: Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – April 2015

  1. Wow! Wow! Wow! Fantastic autumn colour. It looks fabulous now, just think what it will be like as the trees mature. How good is it that such lovely trees are just right for your problem areas – not problems any more I should say. Thanks for joining i again this month Matt and for all the great advice about the Box caterpillar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Christina – I’m excited about being able to use trees to fix the drainage areas – the bottom of the garden has some clay areas, and these parts of the garden look like UK in February at this time of year – nothing but boggy mud puddles!

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  2. You were brave (/mad) to get out there in this weather and take photos. Actually, I did too. My poor Brugmansia has hardly a leaf left and three mature trees came down in our street. It really has been incredible, hasn’t it? Glad you still have some autumn colour to enjoy though (and that our power has now been reinstalled).

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    • Thankfully we didn’t loose too many trees across the mountains, despite the wind. We have these three/four day-long windstorm events annually (usually the gale comes from the west though) and I think that this has helped strengthen a lot of the trees. But it has been a long time since I have seen so much rain and wind together….I hope your Brugmansia recovers. Did the trees miss cars/houses? I hope nothing was damaged

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      • One car was hit, but thankfully with no one in. All fell away from houses, which was extremely lucky. Looking at my Brugmansia today, I can’t imagine it ever recovering, but I’ll give it a prune, keep my fingers crossed and you never know!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, what a fabulous show in spite of the weather. I love that Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’, I hope I can find it over here. The Sydney weather has featured on the BBC news today, I was thinking of you and Janna. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jessica – it was pretty bleak – I escaped with only a very messy yard and some slight wind damage to the eaves and water damage to the basement, but nothing that can’t be fixed. The ‘red pygmy’ is a lovely little specimen – it’s been around for about 20 years….I first saw it in Seattle, but was pleasantly surprised when my local nursery had one!

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    • Thanks – I’ve seen the oakleaf types get reasonable colour, but I’ve never seen it in the standard, mophead types – I will definitely taking a lot of cuttings from this one (assuming it flowers, of course!)

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  4. I am from the U.S. And I love silver maples, though we call them “soft” hardwoods. You show your young sugar maple. Do they happen naturally in your area? I thought they were a North American tree. They are the dominant tree of our local forest. We tap them in the winter and make syrup from the sap in the spring. And yes, they are the stars of autumn color here too. 🙂

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    • Hi Jim – I’m glad someone else likes silver maples, as I’ve read so many bad things about them dropping branches etc, and yet here, 100 year old trees sit in boggy, rubbishy soil and survive powerful storms without an issue. The Sugar maple is definitely not local to Australia; they do quite well where I live, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever tap the tree for syrup 🙂

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  5. The Acers certainly are the stars of autumn – each one you show is special, with lovely differences in that fantastic colour. And those hydrangeas are wonderful! Best of luck with your Silver Maples; just because they’re considered problem plants in their native habitat surely doesn’t mean they won’t be the perfect solution for your bits of bog… The bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is sometimes used for those conditions in the southern US, though the colour is not nearly as spectacular. Glad to hear you came through your bad weather all right! Take care 🙂

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    • Thanks Amy, we grow Taxodiums here, and they colour quite well here (sort of a bronze-orange colour) but their roots tend to be quite raised above the ground, and as it’s a hell-strip, I didn’t want people tripping over them!

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  6. Gosh, all those Acers are car -stoppers , and no mistake! Some fantastic autumn colour! If I was driving along and spotted them I would have to stop and enjoy them awhile. It is a real reminder of the great wheel of the seasons to see you heading into autumn and winter as we head into Spring. Best to enjoy every season for its own pleasures I guess.

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    • Thanks Jane, at this time of year we have throngs of people making the short commute from Sydney to gawk at the leaves. It always brings a smile to my face, even if it can be frustrating having to stop every few minutes as the car(s) in front pull over to take a tree picture!

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  7. Autumn is such a beautiful time in the garden but also somewhat bittersweet as winter approaches. Your autumn colors are gorgeous! I’ve been far too active visiting nurseries and plant sales this spring and my holding area has overflowed. There are black plastic pots all over the garden which now resembles a nursery more than a garden. Happy gardening!

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  8. I love to see the changing of the leaves. As we (in the Northern hemisphere) are watching things begin to bloom, the folks down under are watching things wane into winter sleep. Soggy or not, these are lovely photos. Thank you for braving the weather.

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    • Thanks! it’s amazing that even while all of the trees are starting to go to sleep, so many of the bulbs are starting to stir for a spring display in a four or five months

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    • Thanks Kris! That’s one of the reasons I left Sydney was to be able to get a feeling of all four seasons; thankfully most of the trees should start to look reasonably substantial in about 5-10 years – at the moment I get excited when a plant gets taller than me!!!!

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  9. What a lovely view you have Matt. Autumn leaves make me inexplicably happy. I don’t know why. Apparently acorns do the very same thing for Earl our dog. Combine Earl’s happiness at finding the perfect acorn, and my happiness at the plethora of autumn leaves falling and you have, what I am sure is, the secret to world peace tied up with a bow 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too. I love the colour, the smell, the dry rustle in the breeze, the quality of the low light filtered through the colourful foliage….if only world peace could be secured with autumn foliage and acorns 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • If politicians came down out of their sterile ivory towers once in a while to kick a few autumnal leaves around with an acorn loving dog, the world would be a much different place 😉

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    • Thanks – these storms have been a doozy (and we had a hail storm yesterday) So I’ve spent the day trying to make sense of what fast-flowing water and ice can do to a garden on a slope!!!!!

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  10. You have a fantastic selection of Acers and others showing their autumn colours, your garden must be very colourful at the moment! Thanks for leaving a comment, I look forward to getting to know your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Pauline, this time of year is really spectacular here in the mountains; the cold days, the smell of smoke from wood-burners and the glow of warm foliage make it just delightful outside, no matter what the weather 🙂

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