GBFD September – Foliage Returns

With spring flowers stealing the spotlight, it’s nice to see some of the deciduous trees and shrubs leafing out early this year (the dry, sunny weather means they are about 3 weeks ahead of shedule).

The first leaves are fresh and perfect, and this year, after a very cold winter, I don’t have to contend with an onslaught of aphids keen to get a jump on sucking sap before the ladybugs arrive to feast on them 🙂

Here is a selection of some of the foliage that has opened in the last week or so:


L:R Betula pendula ‘Dalecarlica’; Hydrangea quercifolia; Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’


Clockwise, L:R Spiraea x bumalda ‘Goldflame’; Picea glauca v. albertiana ‘Conica’ & Santolina chamaecyparissus; Rosa ‘Climbing Iceberg’; Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Japanese Maples are particularly effortless in the upper Blue Mountains.

I was able to purchase a few bare-rooted, cut-leaf, weeping varieties at a very good price during winter…so I couldn’t resist.

Once these start to mature, they lend an amazing sculptural quality to a garden; especially one that is steeply sloping like mine. For now, they are just little sticks, but they will fill out over the next few years!


L:R Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Ever Red’ ; Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Seiryu’; Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Orangeola’

Linking up with Christina at My Hesperides Garden. Do take a look at the foliage that has captured bloggers attention this month!

Happy Gardening 🙂

GBFD August – Last of Winters Damage

This GBFD ain’t a pretty one, so look away if dying foliage offends!

Winter arrived in late April this year, and while there were weeks of very mild weather in June, on the whole, winter was cold with weekly snowfalls since the second week of July.

As any Northern American gardener knows, the worst damage is done when the snow is gone and prolonged freezing weather is accompanied by bitter gales which give way to a thaw and then back to frigid cold. This is the sort of weather we’ve had in abundance.

Unsurprisingly, given that a lot of my garden is very new, exposed parts of it look terrible!

But the damage isn’t restricted to just new plantings. Here, x Cupressocyparis leylandii ‘Leightons Green’ that forms part of a mixed hedgerow is completely burnt across the tips:


Tip burn on 30 year old hedge

Smaller Leylandii that I have put in have turned from green to straw; although with winter ending, I have been nursing them back with a very week seaweed tea:


Winter discolouration

It’s working, but compare the colour above to a recently planted version that was over-wintered in a pot on the back deck (how all of these should look like through winter):


Healthy specimen showing no winter damage

Other supposedly hardy foliage plants have taken a hit. Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ is not looking so choice, and it’s  surprising as this is grown adjacent to the comparative shelter of the house:


Frost Burn from Freeze/Thaw Cycles

Similarly, the Pieris japonica – which is over 30 years old and supposedly hardy to -28°C / -18°F  – is showing signs of the severe frost damage and looks decidedly worse than the June montage a few photos below.

It should survive, but normally it is a lovely green colour (normally our winters are gentle like England, not destructive like the U.S. mid-west!!!!). At the moment, however, all the leaves are burnt:


Severe frost burn on mature specimen

Compare it to the same time last year.


Same plant August 2014 showing no winter damage

My poor Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’ has become progressively worse:….







The Boxwood (which will eventually be shaped into a cone) has been given regular doses of diluted seaweed solution and it is picking up. All over the mountains I’ve seen exposed box hedges completely burnt and defoliated by the cold…something I’ve never witnessed before…except in the central areas of Canada.

The Buxus in July (2nd row):


Now – tinges of green/yellow have emerged thanks to seaweed tonic (similar to the Leylandii) and a final let up in the cold:


One of the ‘Blue’ azaleas (Rhododendron ‘Blue Admiral’) has turned into more of a Blackbeard:


Many of the half-hardy plantings have fared considerably worse. This Æonium looks like it has gangrene: I hold no hope for it (I have its pup safely in a pot for future replanting):


What’s left of the Crassula looks more like Dracula 🙂


Both of these should have survived as they are right next to the house and normally sheltered from the worst weather – including rain – by a weather-proof porch. This has a clear Perspex roof and acts like a large cold-frame. But during the worst snow-storm (we had two very bad ones), the supposedly and normally weather-proof porch looked like this and by the next morning, everything had frozen solid:


This was where a lot of tender foliage plants like Bromeliads were kept under cover and safe from winter weather, but now look like this. The freeze even cracked glazed pots:


My drought-hardy scented Pelargonium citrosum suffered badly, but has already rebounded without any help from me; proving they are much tougher than given credit for. A hard trim and a feed in September will restore it:


And Agapanthus prove yet again that numerous hard frosts, wet snow, icy snow, black ice and death-stares every time I walk past them don’t do permanent damage (sadly).

These mushy leaves have already started to repair….meaning another summer with the mattock and hundreds of dollars in tip fees if I am to ever get their numbers under control:


But it’s not all bad!

There is nice foliage to enjoy even in a winter damaged garden. Most of it is from the hedgerow along the boundary and most of it from plants that are considered tender!

The pittosporum still looks lovely:


An evergreen Euonymus has shaken off any cold with tough, waxy leaves:


Fatsia japonica gives a tropical feel:


As does Acanthus mollis:


My little Aucuba japonica cutting has successfully survived its second winter and lights up dense shade under half-a-dozen trees:


Heucheras are in various states:

H. ‘Purple Palace’ (looking more like ‘Bedraggled Bungalow’ but a trim will restore it) fared the worst in one of the frostier spots:


H. ‘Berry Smoothie’ looks happy under the stairs where it is very sheltered:


And H. ‘Lime Marmalade’ still shines with only a tiny bit of damage ready to give a nice contrast next month to the Physocarpus ‘Diablo’ above it:IMG_2826

Almost all of the Sedums that I had planted are horrible and shrivelled. I’m hoping they will bounce back; but one of the most surprising Sedums is supposedly tender.

Under the stairs, next to the Heuchera, Sedum x Rubrotinctum is showing a lot of tip damage, but otherwise it looks really lovely:


So there you have it.

In gardening, you take the good and (make the most of) the bad. But with spring only days away…today as I write this we are having a ridiculous hot spell of 17°C / 63°F before heavy rain is supposed to set in, so the foliage plants will mend and once again provide the back-drop to the rest of the garden.

Plenty of my Australian Native plants survived this terrible winter, but that is for another post!

Do check out Christinas blog over at My Hesperides Garden to see what foliage other gardeners around the world are showcasing.

Happy Gardening and Happy GBFD!

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:


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:


Acer saccharum – as it starts to turn last week


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:


Acer saccharum ‘Green Mountain’

Next is Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’:


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:


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:


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:


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

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


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:


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:


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:


Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’

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


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:


Hydrangea macrophylla

Enkianthus starts to fire up:


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:


Taken last week before all of the storms

Happy GBFD and Happy Gardening 🙂

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – March 2015

Today is garden bloggers foliage day (GBFD) – a day dedicated to celebrating the backbone of the garden – foliage!

GBFD is hosted by Christine at Creating my own Garden of the Hesperides, and it’s a great time to check out the foliage in gardens all across the globe.

As summer fades into autumn, I thought I would share some of the last of the summer foliage trees before they start to change hue.

This year, I am most surprised by the little Copper Beech I planted (Fagus sylvatica ‘purpurea’) – it has had the most shimmery purple, almost black leaves all summer long. Normally at this time of year, the Copper Beech reverts to green before changing to the oranges and browns of autumn, but so far I still have almost midnight foliage.


Copper Beech

You can just see the first hints of green creeping back into the leaves which have made it through the summer unburnt and remarkably only infrequently chewed.


Copper Beech

As it has been such a slow grower (it has been in the garden for over a year and has not put on any new growth) I’ve religiously fed it with a liquid seaweed mix each week; that may have something to do with the healthy foliage – although there still has been no growth 😦

Not too far away from the midnight tones of the copper beech is the rosy burgundy shade of a Japanese Maple still in its summer leaf.

This one is Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ :


Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’

Its leaves are obviously more tasty to insects, but it still looks good with its summer coat 🙂

Happy GBFD and happy gardening 🙂

GBFD – Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’

To celebrate Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides, I bring you Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’.

This is an unusual Japanese Maple cultivar has incredibly long, often twisted and deeply cut leaves that open deep maroon in spring (and on new growth) and then turn to red/bronze in cool-summer climates like mine in summer: however, if yours is an area with warm-hot summers or if the plant receives too much shade then the summer foliage will simply be dark-green.

In autumn the leaves change to shades of yellow-orange rather than the fiery reds typically associated with the genus, so it makes a nice contrast alongside other maples or against dark green foliage plants.


Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’ Close-up of new growth


Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’


Acer palmatum ‘Red Pygmy’

As with any of the dissected Japanese Maples, protection from strong wind is essential as winds will desiccate the leaves and can dehydrate the plant, even if the soil is moist.

This need for shelter is made more difficult by the fact that most of the cut-leaf cultivars have red/purple leaves, meaning they need ample, yet gentle sunshine to retain that leaf colour (and let’s face it, a full sun position that receives afternoon shade and shelter from winds is often mutually exclusive!).

‘Red Pygmy’ will take about 20 years to get to about 2.5m tall by 2m wide (9′ x 6′) so is great for small spaces, large pots and sheltered courtyards.

Happy GBFD and happy gardening 🙂

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – December 2014

To celebrate Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides, I’m including another Heuchera from the garden.

This one is Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’.


As much as I like the sheer punch of this one, to me it looks more like an alien skin from a B-grade Hollywood sci-fi, but Heuchera ‘Alien Skin’ would be less likely to appeal at the point of sale in a Nursery than ‘Berry Smoothie’…


Happy gardening 🙂

Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’

As the leaves and flowers of the Woodland Anemone fade away for summer, the Tiarella plugs I planted last Autumn now start to shine in the shaded bed under a large maple and a stand of six tall Eucalypt trees:


Jeppers Creepers

Commonly called the foam flower, it’s delicate white spikes certainly brighten a gloomy spot, but most of all, I love the deeply lobed, chocolate coloured leaves that persist all year in my garden.

This plant is young (it had only four leaves when planted five months ago), but by the end of this summer it should have grown to a nice mound about 20cm/8″ tall.

In any shaded woodland patch, these plants surely are hard to beat!

Happy gardening 🙂

Heuchera micrantha ‘Purple Palace’


Purple Palace

My entry to Christina’s Garden Bloggers Foliage a Day celebration. Given that it’s spring in my neck of the woods, I won’t be able to join in with glorious autumn tones, but I just love the metallic, iridescent sheen on the new foliage. As summer heats up, the leaves will take on the duller purple tone, but for now they almost look artificial!

Happy gardening 🙂