Autumn leaf color of ‘Wildfire’ blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’, below) is inferior to the native, but still the mottled coloring is glorious in mid-October as other trees in the garden just begin to show the earliest color changes. New leaves of ‘Wildfire’ are colorful through the spring and early summer, so while it falls short in autumn, the tree is splendid at other times.
Also, ‘Wildfire’ is vigorous in growth, particularly when purchased in a container where the chances for transplant problems common to blackgums are avoided. In damp ground along the rear property line the blackgum flourishes, and unfortunately it will soon overwhelm a slow growing ginkgo that I once supposed was adequately distanced. While other trees placed too close will hold their own, the poor ginkgo and its glowing yellow autumn leaves will soon be lost.
With common witch hazels (Hamamelis virginiana, above) in varying degrees of shade, ones in more sun are flowering while others are not likely to show color for several weeks. While winter flowering witch hazels flower after leaves have dropped, leaves remain on our native common witch hazel, slightly obscuring, but certainly not hiding the display. With the variety of witch hazels in differing exposures, one or the other will be flowering from today until early March, with winter flowering types most prized when there are few other flowers in the garden.
A seedling of ‘Tardiva’ hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tardiva’, above) peeks out from under a wide spreading paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) beside the koi pond. Several attempts to remove this and another large seedling have been unsuccessful with limited access to chop out the roots, so the vigorous hydrangea must be pruned several times through the summer. Of course, sometimes I miss, and with ‘Tardiva’ flowering on new wood there are a few blooms appearing weeks after flowers of the nearby parent have faded.
I am never in a hurry for the autumn leaf drop, but badly spotted leaves of mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla, above) provoke second thoughts. While I often fail to do so, this summer I made a halfhearted effort to deadhead spent flowers, doing so by sloppily snapping off the faded blooms by hand, so now several mopheads are reblooming, though against the backdrop of black spotted leaves.
Again, I am very pleased by the resurgence of a once failing clump of ‘Jindai’ aster (Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’, above) that has been moved several times as neighbors encroached on the late blooming aster. The fading clump was dug and split into several, then planted in varying degrees of sun and soil dampness since none seemed ideal. Certainly, one or the other would survive, and possibly one would flourish. Surprisingly, all are growing exceptionally, with the tall flower stalks standing above neighboring shrubs.