Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fall Color Report and a Few Updates

Today is a brief reprieve in the chilly temperatures. It is warmer, up to 60 degrees, but rain is coming tomorrow and we'll go back down to the 40s in the daytime for a few days after that.

Sweetgum out in the meadow
The color each fall is different. 2010 was such a spectacular year all over. Not just a lot of color, but intense color. It was a dazzling year.

In 2011 we had the devastating October storm that ruined everything, and in 2012 we had one rogue hard freeze in early October that zapped not just annuals and perennials, but a lot of the woody trees and shrubs. They never colored at all. Then Storm Sandy blew the browed leaves down.

But this year has been a great one. Maples, birches, viburnums, all are beautiful reds and golds. The dogwood looks spectacular. The witch hazels are getting yellow. Spicebush was brilliant earlier in the fall, and the bottlebrush buckeyes were a hedge of golden yellow until the freeze knocked the leaves down.

Sweetgums are colorful. Stewartias have developed rich red and the black gums are coloring, although not as I expected.

But one tree that has me puzzled this year is the sassafras. Even in last year's fall when maples were browned by the early freeze, the sassafras trees on the hill were bright orange.  Here were the two big ones (the little tiered one goes early) in late October 2012:

This year these two trees are still holding leaves, but the foliage is brown. They almost look like oaks out there, hanging on to their brown leaves. The little tiered one was bright orange but is gone by now. The big ones look awful. Nothing to photograph.

And yet everything else is having a great fall color season. Each year there are mysteries and bewilderments.

And to go with the fall color report, an update on planting:
  1. I planted 50 tiny iris reticulata bulbs in the front, adding some to the post light area on that side of the walk, and supplementing the other side with more stuck in under the kinnikinnik.
  2. I dug the dahlia tubers a few days ago, dried them off and will wait until spring to divide them, when the eyes start to swell and are more visible. They are in a cardboard box in the garage with newspaper covering them now. I'll still order Black Beauty seeds, in case the tubers don't survive or divide well enough. I want lots of Black Beauty next year!

An update on the 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple that had such ugly black weeping areas at the graft union:

Bartlett treated it for Phytophthora a few weeks ago, and the original wet spots dried up, but now have spread to the other side of the trunk. They came again today to spray once more. Sprays are typically not very effective, but may help. The real issue is to keep the area dry, do only deep watering at the base and keep water off the trunk and leaves.

I don't know if the sprinklers hit this tree -- will have to check that next year. Certainly the wet spring may have contributed at just the wrong time. The bed is raised, the trunk is not buried too deep, so that's ideal conditions.

It's such a pretty tree, and the leaves show no effects of the Phytophthora.