CIRCUS LEAVES ... BY GLADYS JEURINK
Somehow I have
been fascinated by leaves other than green.
Variegation with white is quite common but the ones with darker
hues make the green show up best. My
most aggressive one is the original PERILLA
(Perilla frutescens). Once you have it, there it is! It is an annual
capable of many seeds. The
herbalists call it shiso and us it in cooking. It is used in Japan to sweeten
tobacco as it is listed as 200 times sweeter than sugar.
To me it is a 2 foot tall ruffly leaved purple plant that makes
everything around it look better. The newest PERILLA
(Padilla plus several exotic names by different seed companies) looks
like a COLEUS but does not go
to seed as easily and is usually planted in pots. I start a cutting in
the fall and by spring have many new plants to set out.
I would like to
have more shrubs, especially ones that are thick in branches 6 to 10
feet above the ground to make a safe place for birds to nest.
As I sit here in front of a big window there are a pair of
cardinals building a nest in the HENRY
LAUDERS WALKING STICK (Corylus
avellana “Contorta”) which is a FILBERT
10 to 15 feet tall and about as wide with twisted branches crossing each
other. Each winter when the leaves are gone I try to remove enough
of the branches to see the contortion.
After a snow the shrub is fantastic to see.
comes in with long, straw like objects landing on a trellis nearby, then
to a lower branch and up to the construction site, but she always leaves
from the back side of the shrub. Another bird has a nest in the tangle
of the WISTERIA VINE (Wisteria
chinensis) that grew up a pole by wrapping itself around and around.
We built four arms at the top of the pole and it has taken over
all of them making a somewhat solid platform under the dense canopy of
leaves. This spring was its
best blooming year with several hundred long chains of purple blossoms.
that is just now getting big enough to show off its purple foliage is
“DIABLO”, a NINEBARK
(Physocarpus opulifolia) also called (Spirea opulifolia). It is supposed to grow to 15 feet wide and 10
feet high. As usual for a
new plant it just sat there its first year and grew very little the
second but this year it jumped! And it also bloomed. Backed up against
an unstained board fence the color shows up nicely. By next year it
should be a proper place for a bird to nest.
It is supposed to have suckers to make the shrub more dense.
Next to it is
the “different” BUTTERFLY BUSH. This is
sometimes called THE FOUNTAIN
BUTTERFLY BUSH. This one blooms several weeks earlier than the other
Buddleias and has arching branches that sometimes arches so much the
branches touch the ground. Around
mine I have a section of wire in a half circle that holds the top
branches about 3 feet up. The
blooms have silvery leaves and smell good. This plant blooms on last
years branches, so must be pruned as soon as possible after the blooms
are finished. The flower is much lighter than the Buddleias with light
lavender flowers. Eventually it will be between ten and 20 feet tall.
PYGMY”, a Japanese BARBERRY (Berberis thunbergii)
is a dwarf about 2 feet tall with dark red/purple leaves.
It contains spines and yellowish wood.
When used as a hedge, the spines will retard any traffic. It is
another plant that likes hot and dry. Mine is planted in the parkway and
in 20 years has had only one offset from the root. It is backed up by a
red lava rock, has a mounded shape that never needs pruning.
VARIEGATED FALLOPIA (Fallopia variegatus) has an almost white leaf with green ribs and
some have pink coloring. It
comes up a brilliant 2 inches of red tips. I started out with a small
plant and put it close to a path. By
fall I couldn’t find the path so had to move it back so that now it is
in front of an unpainted board fence.
Now I cut it to the ground every fall and find most plants in its
genus are climbers. The
encyclopedia describes them as frequently rampant and difficult to
control. Mine is a shrub
form with almost entirely white leaves and a few green spots. Some of
the leaves have a pink rim. They are very pretty in a bouquet of red or
My dogs have a
pen ten foot wide and 30 foot long and complete with a house. Pepper (60
pounds) likes to dig sleeping holes that are cool.
She digs a new one every night or so to get to damp earth. Snoopy
(20 pounds) sleeps in the old one.
A wild grape vine has moved in and completely shades the west
end, climbing the chain link fence and into branches of a neighbors tree
that hangs over. On the other end I have a variegated honeysuckle
variegatus). It has never bloomed for me in fifteen years but the
leaves are silver and green and looks superb in a vase of flowers. Since
they grow all summer I don’t need blooms.
species have become so popular in the last few years that one can
get one of nearly every color but blue. Most of them like semi shade and
moist soil. Some have variegated leaves and others range from nearly
white leaves to almost black. Also called CORAL
BELLS “Palace Purple” is the first one I bought many years ago
and it still makes a clump 18 inches high by 24 inches wide every spring
of large, jagged leaves of deep purple tinted with red.
If you save the seeds you probably will not come up with
“Palace Purple” the next year.
They can change so much and this gives us all the varieties. Some
can even take full sun. My almost black leafed one lives by a rock on
the south side of the house, another has been in a pot (20 inches)
against the south side of a brick house. It keeps its leaves during winter even when under inches of
I am always
hunting for different colored leaves, different shapes, or leaves that
do something different. For
example, TILLIANDSIA (Bromeliad)
leaves have silvery grey “spots” that do the work of roots on other
plants. Known as air plants the roots do nothing but cling to a rock,
side of a tree, etc. One can glue them to a trunk, mist every day or so,
and have a happy plant. The whole article next week is on Bromeliads.
Look for it.
You can see one
of Gladys’ Bromeliads at “The Mill on Prescott”, 4736 Prescott in
Lincoln. This one has a pink flower with small blue drops and usually
stays in bloom until Halloween.