is yellow and green. If you’re in the woods. Vine maple, big leaf maple. I had a long time to ponder this while sitting in construction traffic in the Coast Range last week. Sunset magazine had a feature about a town out there where one can rent bicycles and go along paths to see the color. I wondered about that, how big of a deal are a bunch of yellow leafs? But driving through – it’s very bright and happy and pretty and one takes what one can get when there is a paucity of hardwood stands in the region. A trade-off for having lush, misty greenery to play in all winter.
In cooler areas and higher elevations you might see more brilliance: Sitka mountain ash, huckleberries.
On the streets some red maples briefly shine, and golden ginkgo and soon sweet gum.
In the garden, the showiest leafs are to be found on smoke trees, deciduous viburnum, euonymus and azalea. Hydrangea ‘Lady in Red’ and well-placed and well-pruned red Nandina add loveliness. And many ornamental grasses and sedges are at their rugged, rusty, voluptuous best. (Not that they are just ornamental: this time of year they start their hard work of soaking up and channeling down rainwater, hosting beneficial insects and offering birds and critters their seed.)
The dark beauty of the evergreen Azalea ‘Stewartstonian’ and similar varieties, and the burgundy oak leaf hydrangea enrich the partial-shade garden and can be underplanted with sparkly cyclamen.
The witch hazel, Persian parrotia and their kin the Fothergilla have multi-colored kaleidoscope leaves.
Korean forsythia has intricate veining that stands out in fall when the leaves go dark purple.