Gold in the garden
Monday, November 21, 2016
It’s late fall at Fuchsias in the City and there’s gold in the garden. Sometimes I pine for brilliant flushes of scarlet and orange. Or maybe some shimmering hints of deep burgundy or copper suffusing the leaves. But it’s a small urban garden and much of what I see of autumn splendor depends on the motley inhabitants of my borrowed landscape. So it’s mostly gold all around.
Some of the neighboring trees are certainly purposeful and planted. The beautiful birch directly above the back wall. You don’t see many of those in yards around here. Someone set it in place years ago and it’s endured, covering itself with deep golden-yellow leaves every fall. They seem to hang on a bit longer, too. Chalk up a couple of pluses to the birch
Too many of the other trees are just haphazard, woody weeds. Like the lopsided silver maple that hangs at a strange angle from one yard to another. Acer saccharinum has brittle wood and periodically drops whole branches, dead or alive, not just leaves. It also sends down a huge payload of seeds so indiscriminately in the spring that the entire species has become banned from use in some urban areas. The population of silver maples surrounding the garden is simply the spawn of neglect. Their contribution to my autumn isn’t anything for postcards either. It’s an insipid, flat yellow barely changed from green on leaves that drop with the slightest rustle of a breeze as it changes. Oh, for a tree there that turns brilliant red instead. I could name a dozen great candidates right of the top of my head... Franklinia anyone? And it has fall flowers!
Inside the garden itself, things shift from green into fall slowly and late. Tucked inside these buildings, it’s a bit more sheltered than my official USDA Zone 7b would imply. Half a zone gentler in the winter probably. Again the plants seem to have primarily gold on their minds down here.. Not sure how that happened. But it makes for a warm, soothing glow as the light continues to ebb from the day and winter approaches. Add to that some fall flowers, such as the amethyst blooms of the toad lily. The nodding copper-brown of wood oats. White camellia blossoms, the some in pink. And, of course, the number of brilliant fuchsias that just don’t give up until they really, really have to. I guess I do have some scarlet after all!