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Monday, June 30, 2008

The Big Green Leaf Day: Thoughts On Leaves

My garden is full of leaves right now, so I was delighted to get an email from Emma from The Nice Green Leaf about June 30th being a day to post about about our big green leaves.

Leaves are the backdrop and foundation of the garden. Without them, even the prettiest flower would seem naked and exposed. The flowers need the leaves. We need the leaves!

It's the leaves that keep the plant alive, that perform the miracle of photosynthesis that makes life possible on this planet Earth.

Leaves are fascinating and beautiful all on their own, even without flowers. I love my "Red Banana" Ensetta maurelii leaves, planted in containers by my backdoor. I think I should have a shirt tie-dyed to match.

Leaves tell us about what is going on with plants.

These red maple leaves are telling me that they could use a bit more nitrogen, or maybe a change in soil pH so they can better absorb the nitrogen already in the soil.

Leaves can grow very large very quickly.These grape leaves were barely there a month ago, and now they are truly big leaves, shading the grapes beneath. I read somewhere that you should prune out some of the leaves on grapes so the sun can get to the actual grapes and they'll ripen faster. Or something like that.

But I can't bring myself to cut these back.

Some leaves seem to say, "Reach out and touch me."I'm a big time leave toucher. I'm that person in the garden center who is reaching out to touch each plant as she walks by it. In fact, when I was in Austin this spring, I had to remind myself not to touch the leaves because many of the plants there were unfamiliar to me and might have had a bite or sting.

I would never voluntarily touch the leaves of this thistle.It just looks like a mean plant, doesn't it? It has issues, I'm sure of it and wonder what happened to it along the way to make it turn so 'mean'.

I like some leaves because they are fancy looking, likes this variegated Heliopsis.This is 'Loraine Sunshine' and she is blooming now, with yellow daisy-like blooms, but you hardly notice the flowers because of the fancy leaves.

Leaves are out there, exposed to all the elements. Rain, sun, hail, slugs, aphids and look at this a Japanese beetle, all seem to want a piece of the leaf.I hate the Japanese beetles. They have arrived right on schedule. This one, by the way, met with an untimely death in my garden. I hope, and plan, for others to meet the same fate.

Would you like to see the biggest leaf in my garden right now? It's this leaf on the spaghetti squash.That's big. I sowed the seeds for this on May 26th. A mere 35 days later, here is this big leaf. It's amazing.

Check out Emma's blog at Indyblogs to see who else is admiring their leaves for The Big Green Leaf Day.

22 comments:

Anna said...

I really enjoyed your post about greens in the garden. Lamb's Ear is my favorite and I've got crook neck squash looking that big too. I like to see all the varieties in your garden. It's always interesting.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I would say Mr. Japanese Beetle met with a timely death. (Evil laugh ensues.)

I am a leaf toucher too. Love them leaves. Have you seen the big lamb's ears. I don't have the plant yet. Still thinking about it.~~Dee

Perennial Gardener said...

I loved your Canna leaves. That red and green combination is fantastic. Great blog.

Northern Shade said...

The shape and colour of the red banana leaf as it unfurls is intriguing. I enjoyed the leaf tour with an emphasis on texture, both fuzzy and prickly.
It' been fun to view the all of the foliage posts.

joco said...

Carol,

What a lovely post. I didn't think it could be done, but you embraced it whole-heartedly and made it look very interesting.
The variegated Heliopsis is something I didn't know and it looks beautiful.
(now back to colour ;-)

emmat said...

It's lovely - I especially liked the way you made it about how what the leaves can tell you - so clever... but beautiful too!

Jan said...

Carol, your post shows how different textures and leaf shapes really add interest to our gardens. Even though they are mainly green, these leaves are not plain and boring.

Jan
Always Growing

shirl said...

Hi again Carol, leaves are fascinating aren't they?

My Acuba is definitely showing signs of nitrogen deficiency too but I have to say I never feed it. Perhaps I should consider it to see what difference it may make.

I am loving browsing the foliage posts. I don’t think I would go as far as a shirt but I do love your ‘Red Banana’ too ;-) My eye was also caught by the Heliopsis. Curtains perhaps? I think I may have to look out for that one :-D

Have a great week :-D

Robin (Bumblebee) said...

Ooh, I very much admire your grapes. If the deer allowed me to grow them, I could set my husband up to feed me while I swing in the hammock. I might have to give that a try.

Robin at Bumblebee

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

All those lovely green leaves look so refreshing and cool. In Austin (and other parts of the southwest) gray leaves are all the rage because they can stand the heat. I like gray leaves sometimes but because we use them so much down here I associate them with feeling hot and dried out. I long for a leafy green glade of the deepest and brightest greens.

Gail said...

Carol,

Good post....thoroughly enjoyable. Those fuzzy leaved plants do cry out to be touched....that's why I like the Woolly mullein in my garden.

and now I have another plant to add to the list...the variegated heliopsis is a keeper!

Gail

VP said...

Hi Carol - glad you joined in. It's been fun!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I'm another leaf toucher - I got a thorn stuck in 1 of my fingers in Austin. I am continually amazed at how fast leaves get big around here. I'll have to post a photo of my Spikenard, which is another mega-leaf plant. And I'd wear a tie-dyed shirt that looked like the Banana. Those colors are great together.

artistsgarden said...

I love your variegated Heliopsis.
Stunning.
I also touch leaves, but then I also weed pots and deadhead when I go around garden centers (sigh)
Lovely to see your green leaves and to be reminded of how much they tell us about the state of our plants.
Regards
Karen
An Artists Garden

Lancashire rose said...

You are growing grapes? I'm impressed. On the subjects of leaves it reminds me of a docent recounting an experience with a visitor to the wildflower Center in the middle of August(not too much in flower then) so the lady says "where's all the wildflowers?" the docent replies- look at the beauty in these leaves- the texture of etc. " I want my money back" says the lady. Oh well! She did not appreciate our leaves down here even though they are green like everyone elses.
Jenny

Annie in Austin said...

It was too early for the fig leaves to be expanded when you were here in April, Carol - they're one of my favorite big leaves but your squash leaves are probably bigger. The red banana is wonderful!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Karen said...

Your greens are great!

Eve said...

That fist leaf is something else..love that. Everything looks so healthy.
UH-oh
You have been tagged. Please visit my blog if you would like to play along ;)

Or just come for a vist.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You have some mighty fine greens in your garden Carol. I especially like the banana leaves.

Carol said...

All, I'm glad you liked my leaf display. My favorite are those banana leaves, so different from anything else in my garden.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

MrBrownThumb said...

Hey Carol,

I'm catching up on comments and wanted to stop by and thank you for the kind thoughts. I like this post...you know sometime I get so wrapped up in the flowers I forget to pay attention to the leaves. Thanks for the reminder.

Kylee said...

I touch leaves, too.

Mom and I saw our first Japanese Beetle of the season on July 1st. I haven't seen any yet in my own garden, but I'm sure they'll show up. I had more last year than the year before, so maybe this will be an off year?? LOL. I can only hope.

Nice leaves, Carol!