Tag Archives: colors

those autumn leaves, so-cal edition

Here’s a short roundup of some of the leaf colors going on in the garden. This is Southern California so it was tough coming up with the stereotypical sizzling reds and yellow and oranges of a lot of autumn gardens in colder climates. But I think we’ve got some pretty cool colors, including the color that might cause the most envy from the northern latitudes: green!

Unfortunately this is what the preceding plant looks like when you back away from the few remaining colored leaves. Most of the autumn color is from the pile o' bricks in the background.
I've mentioned my fondness for the look of poison oak before. This is a relative from California and much of the rest of the country, Rhus aromatica, a.k.a. R. trilobata, the Gro-Low clone. It's not poisonous, but not so amazingly colored as its evil cousin either.
Yellowing apricot leaves...
Euphorbia tirucalli, the Sticks on Fire clone, showing the orange and red colors that start to develop as the temperature plummets into the high 30s. I've grown--and battled to remove--the typical green version which gets pretty huge and out of control. This clone doesn't get nearly so huge, but I don't trust that fact enough to let it out of a pot.
This photo of a little plum is more interesting than pretty. These are the December leaves of one of those multi-variety grafted trees. Each of the varieties is coloring up in its own way.
Another Euphorbia, E. cotinifolia. This one's a bit of a cheat. The leaves are this color all year until they drop for the winter.
A close look at the chalk dudleya, D. pulverulenta. Some of the white stuff covering the leaves has been rubbed off in the foreground leaves.
On the left, the mediterranean Phlomis monocephala, in its stressed gold-green summer coloration. Soon the plant will turn greener with more rains. To the right, Central-California Coast native Astragalus nuttallii with leaves edging towards blue and gray.
And all over the garden are seedlings showing lots of that green color I talked about. Here's a young plant of the local stinging lupine, Lupinus hirsutissimus. It doesn't really sting, but the little haris can definitely poke you. Handling a dried plant after it's died down in the spring without gloves is not one of the more pleasant things I've done.

Happy fall, everyone. I hope you all enjoy whatever colors the season brings you.

one wall to go

The house projects continue. We’ve worked around my little studio building and are now on the final stretch, 22 feet of wall that backs a raised planter. There’s only one window to worry about on this wall, but all the plants are making it a delicate demolition operation.

Mashed Heucherias

Some of the greenery is looking a little trodden on. This is a row of island coral bells, Heuchera maxima, that hasn’t escaped the occasional stomping on by a random foot. But for the most part these should look okay in a couple months after the rains perk them up.

Pruned green rose

I pruned this plant out of the way. It’s my only rose, the green rose that I’ve been growing since my early teens. September and October aren’t prime rose pruning seasons, but I’m hoping the plant doesn’t mind too much.

Bonbero pepper

This plant, a Bonbero hot pepper, so far has escaped being stepped on or having pieces of old siding dropped on it. It’s nearing the end of its short period of productivity, so I won’t stay up nights worrying about it. Still, now that the hot peppers are coloring up red against the leaves, I’d miss having it in the garden.

We’re still undecided about what color to paint the siding once we get it up. I was thinking dark and dramatic, and only somewhat kidding suggested to John that we “paint it black.” When we got down to the final layer of old tarpaper it was a chance to preview what a dark color would look like behind the plants.

Black and white walls

Here’s the black of the tarpaper with the new white Tyvek house wrap for contrast. The white looks awfully harsh against the plants in the foreground. White is a good to accentuate some sinewy branches or the architectural contours of a dramatic plant. But the contrast between the white and the plants is really extreme, and we probably won’t be going with light colors. The dark colors recede nicely behind the plants, a feature that might be nice in this narrow garden space. The leaf colors contrast against it gently, but I worry that the plants might get a little lost.

One of the really popular tinted stucco colors being used in the neighborhood right now is a dull dark green color, which to me seems like the worst color possible for setting off green plants. Silver-leaved meditteranean and native plants can stand a chance of contrasting against it, but it’s pretty deadly for leaf-green plants. So we definitely won’t be doing dark green.

But a dark urban gray? I even thought of a dark red, but the house came with what seems like ten acres of brickwork, so I think that’d be too much as well.

We still have a week or two before we commit to a color. What would be hip, soothing and flattering for plants all at the same time? I’m one of those people who could spend hours looking at paint swatches, but that’s easier to do than the hard construction work that I need to get out of the way before getting to paint colors.

That said, I’m still a big believer in the power of color, and it could be more important decision in the long run than where we decide to move a wall outlet. Decisions, decisions…