Thursday, November 7, 2013

Just before the last gust of autumn...

Pyrus calleryana probably 'Bradford'
Although we've had several nights in the low 20's that have put an end to the show of many deciduous trees, the various Callery pears around Denver are persisting with color...Wikipedia tells me these grow in Vietnam as well as China. How amazing it is that they are hardy at all! November would be dull indeed in Denver if it wasn't for the many Callery and not nearly enough Ussurian pears which are blazing on almost every block (upscale neighborhoods have the most)...

Back yard ablaze! just a week ago: much duller today!
Rosa woodsii in my dry border

Backyard in early November

Daphne x mantensiana
I've seen daphnes blooming in several gardens (Dan Johnson had 'Summer Ice' in fresh bloom today... and good old Carol is blooming around town)
Asparagus verticillatus
This wonderful asparagus collected by Harlan Hamernik in Mongolia is never more striking than now.

Physocarpus 'Diabolo' and Prunus in background
One doesn't think of 'Diabolo' as having fall color but it does--enhanced with yellow foliage around it of course--one of our borders.

Non clonal Quercus rubra
How much more pleasing a row of trees are when each is slightly different in color in the fall! But each year sees more clonal street trees trotted out by nurserymen--responding to Landscape Architects who want predictability (and of course benefiting from having patentable plants)...a vicious circle where biodiversity (and the future health of our streetscapes)  is the victim.
English oak interloper
I love the single Quercus robur in the row--some of us like the thought we might be the rugged individualist. This one turns long after the red oaks on either side...

Quercus robur
I am forever astonished to find huge English oaks scattered here and there around Denver. They love it here. And what majestic plants--even young ones like this.

Aster tataricum
It's not the flashiest plant, nor the tidiest. But towering Tatarian aster waits to show color until the very end of the season, and thereby earns our respect. It's still making a show in our grand border at the Gardens...

A closeup 
And even closer...

Ericameria laricifolius
This remarkable shrub waits till the end of summer to bloom. Native to the desert Southwest, it has no right to be so hardy: fortunately, plants don't read books! It's mostly in seed, but still has flowers in November!

Columnar beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Dawyck') in the Romantic Gardens
This fall has made me upgrade my respect for Autumn: the rich colors everywhere have been so wonderful for weeks and weeks--I'm almost giddy with fall coloration!

Viburnum carlesii on the left, V. x burkwoodii on the right

I do not recall the fall color on the fragrant viburnums being so very rich as it is this year. Now I am even more anxious to have one at home!

Fragrant viburnums in fall color

Viburnum carlesii

Viburnum x burkwoodii

Acer palmatum
The grove of a dozen or so Acer palmatum along the Eastern face of Plantasia are finally getting some height--and of course their scarlet fall color blazes like a forest fire...

Acer palmatum
These are almost clichés on the two coasts, but still rare as hens' teeth here in the hinterlands. Ken Druse showed a massive specimen over a century old in his garden: these will do well to last so long, and if they do, the future will owe Mark Fusco a great deal--he was the one who planted them.

Acer palmatum

Fagus sylvaticus 'Asplenifolia'
I remember when this beech grew along the endless driveway leading to the nearly mythical Western Evergreen Nursery in Golden (the finest nursery in 20th Century Colorado). We were lucky to obtain this and many other gems when that nursery was sold to Coors for development. This is now getting some very respectable size--and is surely the champion of its kind in the state (champion cultivar, to clarify--there are many larger Purple European beeches around town I know..)

Quercus shumardii above--and crown of state champion Shumard oak in center distance

Quercus turbinella (above), Amsonia below

Galanthus peschmanii in the Rock Alpine Garden
This one always sems to wait for the frirst hard frost to really bloom!

Muhlenbergia reverchonii
Surely the most amazing hardy grass--creating luminescent billows even in the middle of the day: this will be Plant Select next year--and something tells me it will be BIG!
Muhlenbergia reverchonii with Sorbus aucuparia in distance

Muhlenbergia reverchonii with Echinacea pallida in foreground

Dryland Mesa cacti taking on winter color
The cacti are shriveling up a bit--but still staguescque.

Quercus buckleyi in orange color, Cupressus arizonica on left
Still orange last week, this will turn a deep crimson this week after frost: this magnificent oak has had no supplemental irrigation for a quarter century: it should be on every block!

Quercus rubra
Most of our red oaks are mediocare yellow or orange--but a few have bright color: this one near where I go to Yoga practice was unbelievably bright...

Quercus rubra
I would love to see many more oaks on every block: there are so many to choose from (and many not yet growing in Denver). After too really chilly nights many of these trees have lost their color, but the oaks, mountain ash, Callery pears and more are still ablaze. Better go out and do a little leaf peeping while they last! Meanwhile, Shakespeare's haunting valedictory rings in my ears (only the little "sleep" for me now is Winter!)

                                           Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
                                           As I foretold you, were all spirits and
                                           Are melted into air, into thin air:
                                           And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
                                           The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
                                           The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
                                           Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
                                           And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
                                           Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
                                           As dreams are made on, and our little life
                                           Is rounded with a sleep.

                                           William Shakespeare
                                           From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1


  1. everything...and I agree...I like the variation of the row of trees...I'm so confused by some people's desire to control nature to such a degree. I think my jaw dropped at your photo of Muhlenbergia reverchonii...drool!

  2. I was lucky enough to get a 1yo Quercus buckleyi from a gardener in Colorado because they are IMPOSSIBLE to get. Plant Select should do something about that, IMHO.

  3. Thanks for the beautiful the beech trees!

  4. Hi Panayoti, I must admit I was laughing very hard after finding the following article about Pyrus calleryana.
    The fact that you say these trees "are blazing on almost every block (upscale neighborhoods have the most)..." made me laugh even more. I almost wonder if they had been planted as some sort of practical joke.

  5. Most Pyrus and Hawthorns, for that matter, have fetid flowers: comes with the turf--I've never noticed or heard any one else compare the scent to semen. One of the few things that I dislike about living at altitude are that smells are not nearly as pronounced (air particles are further apart than at lower altitudes--and smells, thereby are proportionately weaker). The flowers are so fleeting--and often frosted here--that the smell is the least issue we deal with: fireblight and branching patterns that make them prone to snow damage are what have made many arborists discourage planting Bradford and Chanticleer and the other calleries here: fortunately, people ignore them and the city right now is chockablock full of glorious pears (and I'm glad for it!)...don't take every article so seriously, James!


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