Last of the Autumn leaves – GBFD May 2015

It’s the 22nd and that means Garden Bloggers Foliage Day hosted by Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

While the best of the displays finished a few weeks ago, there are still a couple of autumn-hued plants in the garden and this late into Autumn, it would appear that brown, in any shade, is the garden’s coat of choice.

The Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is always one of the last trees to loose its leaves and this was one of the reasons I planted it: to ensure that I had as long an autumn season as possible in years to come.

Its delicate needles turn a lovely old-gold/peach shade, which complement the other browns in the autumn garden. It has put on a good amount of growth since planting, in fact, doubling in size in year – you can see the comparisons at this link:


Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Curiously, the Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘purpurea’) has also held onto its leaves really late this year. All of the other Beeches around town were at their peak a week or so ago, yet this one has only just started turning. This tree has had lovely midnight leaves all spring, summer and autumn long and these only reverted to green (which can be seen in some of the leaves) about two weeks before it changed to its autumn colours.

Like the Dawn Redwood, it is an exercise in browns. But unlike the Dawn Redwood, this plant hasn’t grown one new leaf since planted over a year ago:


Fagus Sylvatica ‘purpurea’

While I know beeches are slow to get going, this one has taken that a bit too far….I’ll keep an eye on it this year. If it still refuses to grow then I may have to replace it.

The Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’ is also a set of browns, but I love the coppery tones of this one in the morning sun:


Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’

Autumn is always too short…Happy GBFD and Happy Gardening 🙂


47 thoughts on “Last of the Autumn leaves – GBFD May 2015

  1. I wonder if the tree that failed to thrive might do better if you don’t have so many things at its feet? I have no idea; just a thought. I suspect something is going on at root level. Also some of them don’t like to be heavily mulched.

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  2. Brown might sound boring until you really look and see peach tones, pink tones and other hues within the leaves. Was your summer hot this year, is that why the beech has been slow to grow do you think or perhaps it was pot bound when it was planted, although I’m sure you would have dealt with that if that were the case. Thanks for your contribution from the southern hemisphere, it is good to remember that seasons all come around again as I go towards summer which can be depressingly hot here.

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    • I rather like brown – reminds me of the 70’s!
      Summer wasn’t especially warm – most days had a top temperature of about 21C and nights of about 12C so ideal conditions for the beech tree…it wasn’t pot bound either; this no-growth has me stumped as the leaves are so incredibly healthy from spring to autumn and the most amazing midnight shade…I have read on the RHS site that beech hedges can be notoriously slow to recover from hard pruning, so I am hoping it just had transplant shock and will recover…I shall have to wait until October I guess!
      I hope your summer isn’t too hot this year


  3. some nice browns Matt, I have read that some conifers are deciduous it is something I think I need to look into as deciduous trees and shrubs are better with my climate, the hydrangea looks lovely with the dried seedheads too,
    thank you for the info about my leylandii, does it mean they grow from old wood, I know most conifers don’t, Frances

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    • Thanks Frances! With the exception of the Larch, oddly enough the dawn redwood comes from the most benign climates so I am not sure how it would cope with harsh winds. They don’t tend to drop branches easily, but they do need a bit of summer warmth or they can be quite stunted.
      Your leylandii will regrow from old wood (assuming it is “x cupressocyparis leylandii”) – but leave some leaf nodes when pruning – here we use them as quick-growing formal hedging (like the yew hedges in the UK)

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      • thanks Matt, your post reminded me that there are some deciduous conifers in the Lews castle grounds in town, I haven’t been there for a while I think I need to go for a walk and investigate what is growing there, Frances

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  4. Thanks for the fall photos. Through bloggers, I am seeing all kinds of seasons around the world. I am looking forward to your winter. On the Gulf Coast, we mainly have a brown fall which happens close to Christmas. Some years bring us more colors…I am sure there are many factors involved.

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  5. I love the foliage of the dawn redwood, it’s so soft and feathery and the color (when green) is absolutely pure and clear. Back in 2009 my favorite local nursery held a going-out-of-business sale, everything 50% off, and as I was trundling my laden cart to the checkout stand I passed a gallon pot of Metasequoia glyptrioides and could not pass it by… even knowing that a 1/2 acre lot is no place for such a tree. “I’ll just keep it to a manageable size” (I am the queen of rationalization when it comes to plants). It got sold along with the house and garden, and I suspect will fall victim to the new owners’ desire for an inground swimming pool.

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    • They are lovely, aren’t they! The foliage is so delicate, it feels like tissue paper – completely unlike any conifer! 1/2 acre is a good size for these trees: even though they get very tall with a very thick trunk at the base, their canopy is relatively contained. Mine won’t reach the heights attained in the US as summers here are too cold


  6. Are you sure your beech isn’t grafted? They always grow slower. We are enjoying the amazing colour change of the acer sango kaku. Now that it has dropped it’s leaves, we are assured that it is going to be a frigid winter here as the branches and trunk have turned a glowing bright red. I have a lovely Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’ that has burnt bronze foliage at the moment and our liquidambar, that is always later than everyone elses, seems to be just about devoid of foliage now. Looks like it is going to be a long cold winter! Cheers for sharing your gorgeous garden foliage 🙂

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    • It’s definitely not a grafted tree…it’s just temperamental 🙂 I love acer sango kaku – it’s on my list of plants that I want, but can’t fit into the garden. I’ve seen the cascade falls a few times and it’s always stunning! Quite a hard frost here this morning – stay warm!

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      • We went walking with the dogs this morning in Exeter, a little town on the way into Launceston, and it looks like the frozen tundra’s of Northern Europe! There was frost everywhere and a heavy fog/mist made it look surreal. The dogs loved it but I am going to have to make Earl a coat if it stays this cold or gets any colder. We had -1 this morning here on the river which is a very rare thing. Sango kaku doesn’t grow very big so it makes a nice intermediate species and those striking red branches in winter are gorgeous. Have you thought about adding any Cornus sericea or Cornus stolonifera to your garden mix? They give you amazing colour over the winter months when most other things have dropped all of their leaves and they are pretty low to the ground and compact so go well in most gardens if they are interplanted with some nice ornamental grasses to take up the slack in summer.

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      • It’s nice and chilly – it was about -4 here on Sunday morning (had to scrape the ice of the windscreen at 11am!) I have put in C. alba’ elegantissima’ (which has similar red winter stems to C sericea/stolonifera) but it hasn’t done very well: it goes into autumn foliage in January and is bare by March. I am going to move it to a less exposed spot to see if it behaves like it should 🙂

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      • I think that they look best interplanted with ornamental grasses because they get protection as well as a foil for when they have no leaves. I know that they are hardy because I gave a couple to a friend who lives on a property where EVERYTHING eats all of her plants and they are surviving so I am guessing that your specimen is being precious for some reason. It will be interesting to see how it goes in it’s new prospective spot 🙂

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    • It’s odd – the paniculata in the back-yard did the pretty buttery yellow thing, but this one is really quite striking. All the hydrangeas have put on a great autumn show this year

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  7. A lot of lovely browns, Matt! I certainly hope your Fagus comes through and grows since the foliage is so beautiful. And the hydrangea is to smile at 😀
    While we lived in Kansas City, most of our winters were more or less entirely brown as we had little snow (I think the last few winters have been a different matter!). Our pin oaks (Quercus palustris) were the champions of brown winter, holding many of their leaves all the way till spring, and in spite of all their faults as yard trees, they were magnificent… Of course, I did long for some good evergreen foliage! But the soil and climate don’t favour conifers or most broad-leaf evergreens there. I’d probably have better luck with some conifers here, but I always forget to think of them as options – hardwired…!

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    • Thanks Amy! That’s odd that conifers won’t do well in Kansas – and a pity, too. I love pin-oaks, but their tendency to hang onto their brown leaves all winter makes them a little unsightly in most gardens!


  8. I’m a little envious of your autumn colors mixed with the last of the fall flowers. We tend to go straight to snow here and skip all the late color!
    You have a nice collection of cool little trees, I wouldn’t mind giving any of them room in my own garden 🙂

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    • Thanks – the wood smoke is very strong here as most afternoons the temperature is about 4C and people light their fires – it’s a lovely smell and a lovely time of year


  9. Hydrangea paniculata and quercifolia always have stunning autumn foliage. How big will the metasequoia get eventually? Here the beech is always holding on to most of its leaves until new growth emerges in spring, that’s why it’s a favourite choice for hedges too.

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