Monday, November 20, 2023

Scenes from a colorful season

Just about everyone I know has said what an exceptionally colorful autumn this has been, and I agree. Driving around town has been jaw-droppingly beautiful. Here in my own garden there's not been that great of display however, it's just not something that's a priority when planting. Still, there are a few things worth sharing. 

This photo was taken on October 11th. The neighbor's dogwood provides a colorful backdrop, and the Fothergilla gardenii 'Blue Mist' (bottom right-hand corner) is just beginning to color up.

By November 9th it was burning bright. 

The Quercus dentata 'Pinnatifida' (cut-leaf Japanese Emperor oak) never does much of a color-up, instead going straight to brown (not that there's anything wrong with brown! After all I wrote a whole blog post on brown over on the plant lust blog. Of course you wouldn't know it was my writing, since my name was scrubbed). The variegated daphniphyllum adds a splash of color to the photo...

Back on October 20th I put together this small seasonal seedy arrangement in my garden to celebrate the fun I had with Jennifer Jewell at Powell's Books discussing her new book: What We Sow: On the Personal, Ecological, and Cultural Significance of Seeds. The large cone is from Clifford, our Magnolia macrophylla.

This cutie showed up in the Little Free Greenhouse in our hellstrip about that same time. I love seeing my neighbors sharing plants.

A welcome slice of evening light reminded me I needed to pull these aeoniums before too long.

Lovely lichen.

I shot this corner of the front garden looking southwest (poor sad Yucca rostrata)...

And then realized the "real" shot was looking north.

I moved the sarracenia into the driveway this year and was rewarded with a much more colorful show.

The spot they'd been living in on the patio was getting too shady.

Mushrooms on the base of one of my palms!

I am a big fan of Orla Kiely's stem pattern, and loved the way this Sophora prostrata leaf-segment recreates it on a bed of moss.

The Stachyurus salicifolius is already preparing for spring, longer days, and eventual warmth. I can’t wait to see those racemes start to swell and turn yellow in late winter.

Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Laciniata’ (aka cut leaf horse chestnut) on Nov 2nd...

And Nov 7th.

Leave the leaves? No! Removing them is an almost daily activity.

Lots of loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) blooms this year.

The photo of fallen leaves from Clifford (above) was taken on November 6th, this one on the 8th. So many more leaves to fall! Clifford's leaves were magnificently golden this year.

Nearby Tetrapanax papyrifer leaves on the same afternoon, Clifford is doing a slight photo bomb on the upper left.

I was cleaning up leaves in the front garden (from the neighbor's trees) when I looked up and saw this reflection. I love it when I'm here at the right time to catch this...

This photo is looking towards the area reflected in the window, and featuring the hardy orange, Poncirus (Citrus)  trifoliata.

In the backyard I paused to appreciate how the neighbor's dark-leaf maple had morphed to match the shade pavilion.

The Solomon's Seal (polygonatum) turn buttery yellow right before they drop their leaves.

Passiflora lutea is named such for their yellow flowers, but this year it could have been the yellow leaves—that's it climbing the palm tree.

This has been a great year for unusual flowers in my garden; from the over-performing red flowered noid epiphyllum (which Kris later ID'd as a Disocactus ackermannii), to the night blooming Epiphyllum oxypetalum, to the first ever bloom on my Nepenthes 'Miranda'—maybe this is FINALLY the year my Tetrapanx papyrifer blooms open before being zapped by a freeze?

Mahonia nervosa coloring up for the cool season.

I shared a couple close ups of the mossy bits of my wintertime hanging planters, but a couple overall photos are needed to appreciate the color-mashup of the unusual mix of plants.

Thanks to great drainage and a morning-sun location (if there is any sun) these plants can all thrive together over the winter months. A leaf from the neighbor's maple blew in to punch up the color.

Finally, here's a shot I took at a local nursery. I thought maybe if I loved these Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow' and commemorated the moment in a picture, then I could walk away and forget about them. Afterall I swore I would never again plant them in my garden because they just don't look good for more than a season. 

Of course that didn't work. A few days later I ended up buying a couple and putting them in a container by our backdoor where I can love them, and then toss them. 

I hope your autumn put on a good show too.

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All material © 2009-2023 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. artinnature here, I'm the type of gardener who wants it all, and colorful fall foliage is no exception! I added many plants this this autumn with exceptional fall color. Two that deserve mention are Lindera angustifolia: a medium shrub or small tree with slow developing gold, orange and red leaves. And then, for the brown lovers out there (you know who you are!) the leaves mostly remain on the plant all winter with a lovely light, tawny color, falling in spring just before new growth begins. The other is Fothergilla 'Jane Platt': JP is a very low growing Fothergilla with quite small and narrow leaves. Her claim to fame is extremely late and slowly developing color. She showed no color at all this year until November 15, and now shows a rich mixture of gold, orange and red with green remaining on all of the branch tips.

    1. That Lindera angustifolia sounds (and looks, thanks to Google) lovely!

  2. I have a seedling (10ft, I think, now) from my Coral Bark Japanese maple that turns glorious red instead of yellow like the parent tree. The other interesting thing is that it's leaves change color later in the season than the regular one, so it's at peak right about
    now. Unfortunately it also means lots of years it doesn't ever color up very much. So I'm loving this year-it's spectacular.

    1. Every year is different and that's part of the fun, right?

  3. I love the window's reflection of the colorful leaves. I never count the bright red seeds of our Magnolia grandiflora as fall color but then most of the seeds are eaten by the squirrels before I even find the cones. My Acer 'Sango Kaku' is just beginning to turn color but the persimmon trees have yet to acknowledge fall.

    1. It's a jarring juxtaposition of seasons in your climate Kris. I stopped the Armstrong Nursery in Thousand Oaks on Sunday, most of the outdoor plants area had been taken over by cut Christmas trees while tall palm trees swayed in the distance.

  4. Those mushrooms on the base of the palm: lots of brown and black, tan and a touch of green. Perfect in any season.
    Beautiful winterized hanging planters. It looks like you had a good time putting them together.
    Hmmm... Love them and Toss them... I don't like spending money on plants for just one season but its so tempting. Maybe I'll get lucky and the nursery ran out of Euphorbia.

    1. Oh it's more than just one season for the euphorbia, they'll bloom in the spring and look lovely into summer, but beyond that—nope.

  5. Beautiful photos, my favorites this time being the five starting with the agave/lichen combo and ending with the Sarracenias, and the window reflection Poncirus duo. You certainly know how to capture the spirit of the season.

  6. Love your hanging basket. The red semp really makes it. It has been a beautiful Fall and long Fall here as well. Fingers crossed that the Tetrapanax will get to flower this year.


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