October 27, 2011

Fall Funnies

This young sassafras wants to be noticed.  Bright orange, tiered like a wedding cake, framed between the spruce and holly, it catches my eye whenever I look out the window.

It is right next to another sassafras.  These were planted at the same time in the woods along the edge of the road.  The one on the left has grown much larger and fuller, but it has no fall color.  The smaller one is strongly tiered, still a bendy whip, and colors spectacularly.

Does the smaller one color so brightly because it is stressed?  It looks healthy enough all year, but isn't growing like its sister just five feet away.  And the green one should be coloring up --- sassafras here are among the most brilliant fall foliage sights.  It's funny, and I'm not sure which tree is the oddity.

Another strange thing is the doublefile viburnum 'Shasta' that has been two-toned for weeks now.  Half red, half green.  In other years it has turned deep mahogany all over, but this year it can't get there.  It's stuck halfway.

There it sits, with some tall orangey sugar maples towering behind it on the hill.  The red half and the green half of the viburnum are distinctly split right down the middle.  Kind of funny.

Irises in late October?  Iris 'Immortality' is advertised as a reblooming iris.  I planted it, thinking I would see the pretty white blooms in spring and then a few sporadic reblooms later in the year.  It is actually blooming stronger now than it does earlier in the season. It goes into October and November with lots of crystalline sugary white petals, all frilly and silly, looking confused about the season.

A visitor who saw them along my front walk this week asked "are those real?"  Funny!

Another strange fall duo: two river birches planted in the same raised berm at the same time five years ago, and the one on the left is yellow, dropping leaves, the other to the right is still green and leafy.  They are only ten feet apart.  Why so different, I wonder.  It's just funny.

It's almost Halloween and we haven't had a frost yet.  That's unusual here.  And so I get the odd combination of fiery foliage on the trees with blue flowering plumbago.  The plumbago isn't even close to being hardy here, and should be gone by now.

It's odd to see the combination of summery blue flowers, deep garnet Itea in the garden behind it, and orange fall foliage in the distance, lit by the rising sun at dawn.

It's funny but I like it!


  1. This entire gardening year has been strange weather-wise. It is no wonder that the plants are confused. No matter the confusion your garden looks very fall-like which is comforting. Those blue blooms are rather shocking with the rusty colors of fall. Something to be remembered this winter when all is white and bare.

  2. Your tree line looks stunning! The sassafras here is more of a reddish color but they all seem to provide some great fall color.I have a theory on your viburnum. Many plant propagators will put two or more cuttings in a pot to insure that at least one takes root. You may have two separate plants in the same location. One side gets more light than the other which triggers the color change in the one with less light.

  3. Laurrie, I am sure that there is some science behind all these oddities, but I kinda like the mystery.

  4. The seasons can not make up their minds and now the plants are in a tizzy. Same here with blooming and coloring oddities. I have been wondering what winter will bring now? Maybe iced tea on the patio one week and ice entombed trees the next.

  5. It really is a strange year for weather isn't it? Last weekend I worked in the garden at a balmy 14degrees (celcius). My coneflowers are pumping out flowers like nobody's business and the lupine are blooming again, much like your iris. It's astounding but unfortunately not long lasting. Calling for snow here this weekend.

  6. Wow, most of our color has appeared, and even many leaves have dropped! Don't you think man plants are like people, not even those that look alike are going to behave the same!?

    That iris is so amazing! You are so right, it seems confused, I wonder, is it fragrant? (are iris deer resistant?!)

  7. Lisa, When winter is upon us, I do like to go back and look at the colorful photos from the past season!

    Dave, That's interesting about the plant propagators. I wonder if I really do have two separate viburnums there? The green side is west facing so it does get more light.

    Jennifer, There is something to be said for the mystery of botany and unknowns in the garden : )

    Donna, Global weirding is going on for sure!

    Marguerite, As I type this reply I am looking at a freeze coating from overnight here in New England. It's always changing.

    Sissy, I am learning that plants behave as irregularly and individually as people do! I have two bearded iris types and neither has been touched by deer here. So far. (Immortality does not have any fragrance)

  8. Your iris are on the same wavelength as my columbine, which are still blooming. The yellow river birch is in a drier spot than the green one next to it. I have a massive Heritage river birch that turns yellow and drops leaves the minute it's water stressed. The wetter our fall, the longer it stays green. I wonder if that's what's also happening with the sassafrass. As for the viburnum - that's just comic relief!

  9. Laurrie, You have so much more leaf color than we do just a bit farther south. Leaves are not vibrant at all this year and the usual reds never developed. I think the salty rains of Irene sucked our autumn color away. Stll have the iris, though. Picked the last budding stalk a couple of days ago.

  10. That last photo is gorgeous, Laurrie! I think I'd just sit in one of your chairs and enjoy the view every afternoon.

  11. Laurrie, Mother Nature certainly likes to joke around with us sometimes, doesn't she? As I'm typing this it's 10/29 and there is 3" of snow on the ground and still falling. I wonder what the leaves will look like after this?

  12. Your garden looks great even if the plants are doing weird things. That iris looks especially cool!. I want one that flowers in the fall.:)


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