Seasonal Plants of Interest, October 2013
Not all deciduous leaf, autumn colours are fiery shades. The foliage on the Euonymus sieboldianus growing in the glasshouse border is virtually translucent. Just as rewarding in the landscape as a specimen with scarlet foliage. Pass this small tree in the early morning or at dusk to appreciate the lightness of colour. In addition appreciate the subtle pink fruits with red seeds exposed suspended from this year’s growth.
A native to eastern Asia of open woodland. There are specimens of E. sieboldianus growing near the western boundary showing, as yet, no sign of autumn colouration in the foliage. This group planting is from seed collected in Japan from parent plants growing within the lower limits of Fagus crenata forest at 1200m. One of these specimens is absolutely laden with fruit gradually segmenting apart exposing the seed.
Choose wisely this planting season
With leaves dropping, now is the time to consider planting deciduous material.
When choosing a site it is recommended to research the growing conditions in the native habitat of your chosen species to obtain best growth of the specimen you select from a nursery or garden centre.
Seed was collected in Japan during 2007 from a tree growing in open broadleaved woodland at an altitude of 1475m. The mature tree had a height of 10m with a 12m canopy spread. As can be seen from the images the colour before leaf fall is an intense red.
Ideally look along nursery rows and select a good form of the species chosen for planting in your garden. If container grown, once the pot is removed, break out the sides and base of the root ball to allow fresh roots to grow out into the surrounding soil. If open grown, prune back any dried out root ends and stand in a bucket of water prior to planting.
Plant to the same level as the tree was set at in the nursery soil or container.
Firm gently, stake only if necessary.
Water lightly and look after for the first year of establishment. During the second year keep an eye on competition from surrounding vegetation and water during dry spells. From then on the tree or shrub should romp away.
Full of fruit
The fleshy capsule, segmented into five parts is a rich dark red enclosing several orange seeds.
Collected in Japan where it was growing on an east facing embankment in a dry stony loam at 1075m.
Actaea pachypoda - Fleshy and fruity
Macleaya cordata - Dry and noisy
Two herbaceous plants from opposing continents both doing what they should; setting a store of seed to reproduce the next generation. The Actaea, native to Eastern North America is found as part of the forest floor vegetation.
From China and Japan Macleaya cordata towers to two metres and produces swathes of delicate waxy coated pods held procumbent where they clatter against one another in the breeze. Again a woodland plant but also found in the foothills from 100 – 800 metres.
Room to roam
Cucurbita maxima ‘Yellow Hundredweight’ is a cultivar traditionally grown as a Halloween pumpkin. It is also edible. The flowers arise from the leaf axils and are a solid bright yellow. Lasting only one day, in bright sunshine the colour bleaches from the petals and these then scrunch up and wither. The vegetative growth trails along the ground for two metres and more. Enjoying a full sun situation in a well-drained fertile organic soil. Another cultivar Cucurbita pepo ‘Jack be Little’ colours earlier in the season, not as large, but of good flavour. These pumpkins can be grown in compost or manure heaps where the roots benefit from rotting organic matter.
Seasonal Plants of Interest, October 2012
Acer pectinatum ssp. laxiflora. This Acer flowered well and now we are reaping the benefit of the winged seed. The reddish pink wings envelope the seed, multiples are carried as a raceme from leaf axils. The colour darkening as the nights get longer and the temperature drops. Catch them on a day when the sun is shining behind them and the true beauty is appreciated.
Originating in Sichuan, China, this deciduous tree was observed growing on open south facing mountainside covered with regenerating trees and shrubs.
Blue blooded hybrid
With possible parentage of G. veitchiorum and G. hexaphylla the result is a distinctive and highly coloured hybrid of compact habit. During 1999 – 2003 hundreds of seedlings were raised, G.’ Braemar’ is one of the Berrybank Hybrids.
The multi flowered shoots ensure a long flowering season especially when picked over as the trumpet colour browns and fades.
See this growing on the revamped peat walls. In full bloom the closed trumpets are a distinctive royal blue with striations of white and a contrasting thin blue ink line. On opening the inner markings are as intensely coloured.
The deciduous foliage of Tripterygium regelii is yellowing gracefully. This ungainly climber reaches 5 metres in Japan from where seed was collected. In Amori Prefecture it was growing in mixed deciduous woodland on a south west facing slope at c. 900m.
The sturdy leaves are attached to the flexible brown shoots by stalks showered in minute bristles; these continue to appear on the midrib at the reverse of the leaf. The white flower panicles have matured to display collections of three winged nuts. The papery shell that forms this three winged form turns a graceful red as the autumn progresses.
Visit the Garden, enjoy the fallen leaf mosaics and admire the colours. The clocks change at the end of the month so take advantage of the day length during the next two weeks.
Red leaf stalks
The family Euphorbiaceae is more usually associated with the warmth of home at Christmas time when Poinsettias are the house plant of choice. Mallotus japonicus is also a member of the family reaching tree like proportions in a sheltered site. Originating from The south west corner of the lodge house at the east gate is suiting it admirably.
The simple, deciduous, deeply veined leaves are well shaped. Expanding from the bud covered in brown felt. It is the long slender red leaf stalk that adds interest to this plant. Terminal flower spikes carrying a multitude of small insignificant cream flowers appear at this time of year. The wood is pithy and as shoots mature a lenticel pattern forms on the bark.
A neglected genus
The terminal inflorescence is a paniculate umbel; often several auxiliary umbels are present surrounding this. These open later, if at all, than the main terminal cluster exhibiting their protruding white anthers, through magnification the slight rigid lime green stigma.
In the Chinese plant collection there is a much darker leaved variety E.l. var. setchuensis, in fruit. The individual berries splay out architecturally on individual stalks and darken deep purple. These are long lasting through the months into winter.