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Apples & Peaches

Our forlorn apple tree still stands despite my constant plans for removing it. Since the trunk of it is the size of a small house, taking it out is something to think about. And heaven forbid hiring someone to trample over my plants. So it remains. Every year, in the dead of winter, I cut it back although several of the limbs are difficult to reach and some always remain. This year, I cut more than I usually do and only two or three large branches still stood, reaching straight up into the sky.  Judging from the apples this year, maybe I'm doing something right - However, it is hard to find a good apple unless it is picked from the tree (hard to reach). The ones on the ground always have bad spots on them. We've never treated the tree for disease or insects and the thought of doing that doesn't appeal to me.  I usually make at least one pie or cake every year from the unblemished apples I am able to retrieve.  My go-to apple recipe is the French Apple Tart f rom Ina Garten.

Fiery Fall Colors

Dogwood (Cornus kousa) 'Celestial Shadow'
The autumn colors here are still magnificent. We have yet to have a freeze and I love how the temperatures stay on an even scale, just dipping ever so slowly. The overnight temperatures are averaging around 40 with the daytime highs around 50. The gray wet weather pattern that dominates the winter season has begun.

Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) (seedling)
The two Japanese Maples that flank our back deck have been very slow in turning color but all of a sudden they are spectacular. These were unnamed varieties and I chose them mainly because they were large specimens at a decent price. They have put on quite a bit of growth this year.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'
An existing Japanese Maple in the front yard is "Bloodgood". It too has grown well but there is significent bark damage and I am reluctantly considering replacing it. I would like a taller tree for that spot. It pains me to dig this one up though.

Acer palmatum ‘Murasaki Kiyohime’
A dwarf Japanese Maple, also already in existence, is planted next to the front door stoop. It is 'Murasaki Kiyohime' and it has been slow to change color.

Acer palmatum 'Shaina'
 'Shaina' was just added earlier this summer. That is Japanese Blood Grass planted at the base.

Some more trees and shrubs showing off their fall finery -

Dwarf Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Kelseyi')
Barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Orange Rocket')

Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica)
Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

And lastly, although not really fitting the "colorful" category, is nevertheless an amazing plant at the moment - the Strawberry Tree (Arbutus). This is a new plant for me and I am loving it.
Strawberry Tree (Arbutus)

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Fine fall foliage. I too like the looks of this Strawberry Tree but what attribute gives it it's name? The red stems? Interesting.

  2. Lisa, it produces a small, red fruit that resembles a strawberry.

  3. These are all gorgeous but I am particularly happy to hear you are growing to love one of my favorites, the beautiful Manzanita species. Is your strawberry tree A. unedo, or a cultivar?

    1. Various sources claim that the fruit on Arbutus unedo are edible. For instance:

  4. What fantastic japanese maples! They do seem to take their time, don't they? I could never remember their foliage-turning time very well until one year at Thanksgiving, for our guests, my window was filled with the bright yellow J-maple, sun shining through it. I remember it also because of the photos from that day. Funny, how I need the photos to remember. Wow--that Shaina & Bloodgrass!

  5. The strawberry tree is a favorite of mine. I love everything about it, especially that it has fruit and flowers at the same time. Plus, the fruit is eatable.

  6. That cornus is fabulous! Your garden is a riot. Of color that is.

  7. Nice that so many things are late to color up. I'm for keeping the parade going as long as possible.

  8. You’re right, your fall colors truly are magnificent! Swoon! I miss our autumn colors already.


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