Maria von BrinckenLeaf musings and foliage combinations

I think a lot about leaves. Even if I wasn’t a landscape designer, I would still think a lot about leaves. Guess that makes me a leaf lover! This spring, I enjoyed the progressing tapestry of new leaves in the woodland just outside my window.

Foliage Combination. Note the flowering Pears lining the drive. Design & Photos by Maria von Brincken 2013.

Foliage Combination. Note the flowering Pears lining the drive. Design & Photos by Maria von Brincken 2013.

I really love the early spring foliage of the New England native red maple (Acer rubrum). Perhaps it’s called that because in the spring its new foliage adds a delicate cast of vermilion to the tree line and gorgeous crimson in the fall. I remember my first spring in New England – just transplanted from northern California—I marvelled at the spring foliage colors and the subtle way it echoed the fall coloration.

So I watched the emerging leaves and the changing color palette of the woodland and I pondered  a question I’ve had  last few springs. When do the brown pin oak leaves drop? You may think why in the world would she wonder about that?  It’s because the pin oak is one of the last of the oak trees in this area to lose the dead brown leaves. There’s one outside my back deck just beyond my main viewing window and it’s covered in brown leaves all winter. As it’s matured, it’s created ‘peek through’ or ‘windows’ in its branching revealing the gray birch in high contrast tucked behind it. I loved the shimmery light green leaves of the light grey barked birch now revealed behind the pin oak.

Early Woodland. photo by Maria von Brincken 2013

Early Woodland.
photo by Maria von Brincken 2013

This year I noticed (and I should have been scientific and written the date on my calendar -but that’s not my nature) when the peepers – our local frog chorus – began its serenade, that’s when the leaves started dropping off. And that’s about the same time that the night temps hover above freezing. I figure that the warmer temps encourage the new leaf buds to emerge pushing off the old dead leaves. Now I’m not a scientist so maybe my observation is incorrect but that’s what it looks like.

Every year I’m captivated by the patterns of the new leaves emerging on the different trees.  The progression fascinates me. The poplar was one of the first trees to bud. It seemed that the minute the temperatures warmed, the poplar pushed out big fat buds, then the catkins, then they dried up and fell off. Then the ornamental Thundercloud Plum, burst into pink (now magnificent burgundy red leaves) followed immediately by the white blooming pear non- fruiting ornamental.

Flowering Pear lines drive. Design & Photo by Maria von Brincken 2013

Flowering Pear lines drive. Design & Photo by Maria von Brincken 2013

It’s a tree found ablaze in white flowers all over the streets of New England. Even with its branching problems, it’s the street tree of choice lining new housing development roads, new mall planting beds, commuter roads, and super markets. Because of that I’m reluctant to use them, but they were the best choice for a project I designed and installed in 2004. I went to see them and they were in full bloom looking wonderful as I had extended an allee lining the drive. They were magnificent framing all the entry gardens.

Loving the play of leaf on leaf you wouldn’t be surprised to know that as a designer I love to use foliage combinations to enhance a design. Here’s a couple of examples from landscapes designed and recently visited. There’s much to write about here but I’m typing one handed as I broke my arm last week. It’s a really busy time of year for me. I’m hoping I can install the vocal software soon!

Foliage Combination. Design & Photo by Maria von Brincken 2013.

Foliage Combination. Design & Photo by Maria von Brincken 2013.

Foliage. Design & Photo by Maria von Brincken 2013

Foliage. Design & Photo by Maria von Brincken 2013

 

But I digress, today as I’m finally have time to write about this marvel of nature, I see the forest trees all leafed out and pretty much wearing the same lovely shade of new green. I hope you’re enjoying the palette and the amazing progression as well.

 

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Maria von Brincken

About Maria von Brincken

Award-winning landscape designer, garden journalist and lecturer, certified practising designer with the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD), former contributing editor to Landshapes magazine. Sudbury, Massachusetts. Read Maria's full blog at A Garden Maker's Notes

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