Thursday, October 18, 2007

Flame in fall

What gorgeous fall color. This is a Flame Amur maple and I bought one two years ago for my front yard. But mine doesn't look like this.
No, it looks like this. Does that look like "Flame" to you? Where's the bright red leaves? This is the second autumn I've eagerly awaited a fiery display of crimson, only to have my hopes dashed.
I even planted a Burning bush near it a few weeks ago to give it some encouragement. I found a specimen with a bright red leaf on it at the nursery. That should help, right?
Umm, no. The one red leaf fell off immediately and now there's only a handful of sort-of-reddish leaves. The Flame maple couldn't care less what its neighbor is doing.
It taunts me. A few russet-colored leaves is the extent of my fall brilliance. I've asked everyone what the problem could be. I'm told it takes warm, sunny but dry days and cool but not freezing nights to bring out the color. We've had that kind of weather all fall. It seems the real problem is that not all Flame Maples are created equal. I have an underperformer. The lesson is to buy the tree in the autumn when you can see what color the leaves have turned. Well, no one told me that while I was buying my tree in late spring.
I'll just turn my gaze to the backyard which doesn't pretend to have any red leaves, just lots of on-the-ground leaves. I'll get to them in a couple of weeks. Besides, I like to see leaves swirling around. What's more evocative of the season? (Besides red maple trees). After Halloween I'll get serious about raking them all up.
Some real flames in fall were an unwelcome surprise at Darling Daughter-in-Law and My Sweet Son's house a couple of miles away. The electrical transformer on the power pole blew out and threw sparks all over. Which quickly ignited the backyard. Juniper bushes are not only highly flammable but threw flames high enough to scorch the top of a 40-foot tree in the next-door neighbor's yard.
This was a 6-foot privacy fence. The firemen stopped the flames just short of the house.
Darling Daughter-in-Law surveys the damage and decides that, except for the immediate terror of getting my Five Adorable Grandchildren to safety, this was a fairly efficient way to clear the back half of their property for a vegetable garden. Only a mother of one-year-old twins, a three-year-old, a five-year-old, and a six-year-old could react with such equanimity.

So much for flames in fall. Give me only red trees without the flames...please.


Layanee said...

Wow, that was quite the fire! Your DIL sounds like a glass half full kind of gal! Lucky you and five grandchildren! Luckier you! As for your fall color, maybe the soil pH is differenct than that in the nursery or other yard where you saw the Amur maple. Sometimes it is a mystery! Don't give up on the Euonymus. They color up pretty late here! Oh, and your trip looked fabulous!

Carol said...

First, thank goodness no one was hurt or the house didn't catch fire. You daughter-in-law sounds very pragmatic. That would be a good place for a vegetable garden, all cleared like that. Half the work is done!

As for your Amur Maple, that's too bad. Maybe one day, when you aren't expectint it, it will turn a pretty red for you.

barefoot gardener said...

Wow! Some fire. At least DDIL is being pretty mellow about it, and ashes are good for your soil. She will have LOTS of room for a veggie patch, by the looks of it.

With all those kids (bless their little hearts) how does she plan to find the time for gardening?

Annie in Austin said...

Do you still feel shaky when you think about the possibilities, Lost Roses? That's one scary photograph of the results of the random.

Your DIL deserves a lot of credit for being pragmatic, but bet she and your son need some extra TLC. As to the garden - hope the planning and execution will be fun, and that the insurance will pay for a new fence.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Gardener in Chacala said...

I love your "truth in gardening" photos. Very nice. Andee

Apple said...

I'm glad your family is safe and that their house was saved! The colors here are blah this year. I hope your maple surprises you next year.

Connie said...

Sorry your tree has not performed as expecte. Is it possible it could have been mis-labeled? Buying in fall is good advice for such a purchase.
I wish your DIL the best on the new vegetable garden...what a great idea! So glad everyone is safe and sound.

LostRoses said...

Layanee, yes, we were very lucky that there wasn't more damage, I'm counting my blessings! Funny about the burning bush - I can see ten of them in the same bed around town and 6 will have gorgeous color but not the other 4. Garden mysteries!

Carol, I wish I was as pragmatic as my daughter-in-law! I was a mess and she had it all together. As for the tree, I keep thinking I'll come home from work tomorrow and it will be red. Maybe not cool-headed, but I'm definitely an optimist!

Barefoot gardener, I told her the fire would be good for the soil, though I wasn't sure it was true. Glad you confirmed that. I think she has plans for using all those little hands in the garden! If not, the swing set escaped the fire and it's close by to keep them amused!

Annie, shaky is an understatement. As a former Catholic school girl, it didn't escape my attention that this happened on the day of the Feast of the Guardian Angels!

Andee, truth in gardening is important, don't you think? I got enough of pretty pictures in gardening magazines some years ago!

Apple, thank you. I am eternally grateful that things turned out the way they did. And I hope you're right that I'll someday be surprised by my maple!

Connie, I guess it could have been mislabeled but it didn't really occur to me at the time. The trust I put in my local nursery! It's actually the only tree I've ever planted so I was very naive. And DDIL is already planning her vegetable garden!

Mary said...

You don't want those types of flames, Lost Roses. My goodness, I'm glad the firefighters were able to contain it and your son and daughter-in-law and children were safe!

Your underperformer might surprise you one year when the conditions are right. The flaming red is nice but doesn't last long, anyway.

kate said...

I was relieved to read that your family was okay. What an awful fire - thankfully everyone emerged unscathed and the house wasn't damaged. I guess having so many small children helps with one's perspective.

Sorry to hear about the Flame Amur Maple. Like others, I'm hoping it will have a change of heart soon and surprise you with some wonderful red autumn colours.

Andrea's Garden said...

Thank Godness your family was ok after the fire. How scary! Cannot help you with your tree. Maybe it will change its mind one day and the leaves will be red. Have a nice week, Andrea

KC MO Garden Guy said...

I understand your frustration!! The nursery deceives you with the picture on the card that comes with the tree and you don’t have the heart to yank it out. Been there done that and still don't know what to do.
I am glad to hear your family is ok. Things like that makes me count my blessing and not fret about the small stuff!!

Bev said...

LR, what an experience to have in one's own backyard! I'm so glad everyone is okay and that the flames didn't get any closer (and that was CLOSE). Your DIL (Daughter-in-love as I call mine...don't like the LAW part) must be a wonderful and energetic mother with all those little kids. I'm sure you are a very proud grandmother.

As for the maple, I too have tried (with no success) to raise an Amur. They are my very favorite fall tree and I drool with envy whenever I see one. I notice one nearby that some years looks beautiful and others much like yours. I hope it will perform better in coming years.

LostRoses said...

Mary, they were so lucky. A good samaritan who was driving along a thoroughfare a mile away saw the flames shooting up in the air, drove right to their house, grabbed the garden hose, and started attacking it before the firefighters even got there.

No, I never want to see those flames again, but I will still hold out hope for my red maple leaves!

Kate, thank you. Blessings are being counted, for sure. Puts mundane things like fall leaf color in the right perspective!

Hi Andrea, I don't want to be that scared again anytime soon. And if my maple changes its mind, you'll see it here!

Cliff, you're just so right about not fretting the small stuff. Like that dumb maple! And like you, I don't really have the heart to yank it out. It's there for the duration, whether it lives up to my expectations or not!

Bev, daughter-in-love! I like that! It sure is true, and she gets nothing but praise from me, especially after the way she cool-headedly handled this scary incident.

So I'm not the only one with a cranky maple, which makes me feel somewhat better. Until I look around town and see some just as bright red as they can possibly be! Que sera.

Kathy said...

I know it is this way with burning bush, so perhaps also with Amur maple: they don't color up nice unless they are in full sun.

Glad all your family are safe.

LostRoses said...

Kathy, I never thought about that, but in this case they are in full sun. I'll keep hoping!