Green is the colour of spring
Zur deutschen Version – The awakening of nature has always brought great joy to my life. Even though I have come to love autumn with its glorious colours, it is this time of year that excites me most. The first enchanting rush of small, delicate bulbs and early, mostly shade-loving perennials is over. It is now replaced by the exhilarating emerging of trees and shrubs. Some are early risers, others take their time. The coming into leaf not only depends on the original climatic conditions that dominate the plant’s natural habitat, much depends on seasonal temperatures and local microclimates. Urban gardens will green-up more quickly than those in more exposed rural areas. Even when daytime temperatures are high, cold night-time temperatures make plants weary and slow them down. This has been the case with us in recent weeks. The much-needed rain in recent days has also helped greatly.
Season of green contrasts
I always think that during these precious weeks each plant species has its very own particular shade of green. As the weeks progress and the delicate leaves harden and toughen up for the long hot summer ahead, they become a more uniform green and lose their singular character. I adore the contrasts of the fresh green emergent foliage of cherries, birches and viburnums against the stern, dark green background of evergreen rhododendrons and coniferous trees.
Euonymus alatus, famous for its brilliant autumn colour at the start of autumn, has long come into leaf, as has the Japanese cherry. These flower early, and as they fade, the leaves emerge. Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ has affirmed its presence in the past weeks, and bears now its soft green leaves, with a slight coppery shimmer. Truly copper is the new foliage of Amelanchier that comes out with the flowerbuds, whereas Pyrus salicifolius ‘Pendula’ display its white pear blossom as the olive-like narrow silver leaves emerge. The climbing roses, particularly those that were left un-pruned, or once-flowering ramblers that were pruned in late summer after flowering, are already covered in fresh green leaves that are keeping the first aphids entertained.
In the hedgerows silvery green new leaves of rowans are opening up like a hand stretching its fingers and hawthorns have delicately formed glossy green foliage. Above them hang the softly pendulous branches of silver birches clad in pale, almost yellowish green small leaves. Out of the swollen buds of oak trees appear somewhat awkwardly fresh green little oak leaves in small tufts.
The best of the lot though are the beeches. Having been brought up with large, majestic beeches in my childhood garden, I eagerly await those almost luminescent green little clouds that drift amongst beech woods as some trees green up a little earlier than others, or single branches can no longer wait and have to unfurl before the others. This is the reason why I prefer to plant beech trees as a hedging plant, rather than hornbeams. The latter come into leaf a little earlier, but do not have that luminescent freshness.
The genus Acer contains a wealth of interesting species with tremendous garden value, ranging from majestic tall trees such as Acer rubrum, ones with striking bark like Acer davidii to much more compact Japanese maples Acer palmatum. Some of these have red foliage that remains throughout summer, many are green in summer, but start the season yellow, yellowish green or ochre coloured. The coral-red bark of A. palmatum ‘Sangokaku’ which we planted in our garden last autumn, has cheered me up all winter. These past weeks tiny fan-shaped leaves emerged and brought much joy. There are so many attractive ones. As there are hundreds of different varieties with different leaf-shapes and colours as well as different bark, it is best to go and choose one that suits your requirements and your taste. A. palmatum ‘Orange Dream’ has yellowish leaves, reddish at the tips, at the start of the season. For the very small garden, the slow-growing and compact dissectum varieties are ideal. Their leaves are finely cut to achieve a feathered effect, in both green and red-leaved forms.
Have a close look at the emerging buds as you walk through your garden or the countryside these coming days. Take your time to study them closely. The intricate details, the richness in colour, texture and form is quite unique. Your patience will be greatly rewarded!Leave a comment