A Gardening Journal

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: PINK Fall Foliage of the Persian Ironwood Portal

Parrotia-persica-just-pink-growth-w-sky-111813-640 

 

Even for Parrotia persica, whose season of colorful foliage seems as long as Fall itself, this foliage of this pair of the columnar 'Vanessa' cultivar is exceptional: Instead of this tree's usual bright yellow or tan, these leaves are rosy pink, a color that's always among the season's scarcest. Happily, it's possible to encourage the tree to produce more of it.

 

The pink leaves are borne almost exclusively by twigs that grow at the top of these trees, and those twigs seem to bear pink-leaves exclusively. Of course, "grow" doesn't begin to describe the intensively manipulated life, season after season, of my pair of 'Vanessa'. First, they are clipped to even narrower habit than they would attain naturally, as the side pillars of a portal through two lengths of Belgian fence formed from fancy-leaved beeches. Then, their top branches have been trained horizontally into the portal's crossbeam. All the pink-foliaged stems emerge from that crossbeam of permanent horizontal branches.

 

Parrotia-persica-pink-leaves-of-new-growth-111813-640

 

The foliage borne directly by the branches forming that horizontal scaffold is turning more usual colors for Parrotia: Yellow.

 

Parrotia-persica-yellow-Fall-foliage-on-older-stems-111813-640

 

Perhaps it really is the horizontal training that enables these tree to produce stems that bear pink foliage. The horizontality minimizes any growth inhibition that the highest tip of any branch typically puts into effect on growth points farther down—and also, it would seem, tosses aside inhibition about producing new stems whose Fall foliage is pink. 

 

These are my only only Parrotia trees. Is pink foliage a talent just of the 'Vanessa' cultivar, or would the foliage on stems that sprout from horizontally-trained growth of the straight species be as showy? I'll keep my eyes open for the foliage of species in other gardens; because Parrotia is rarely pruned in normal practice—the trees rarely need pruning if your goal is simply to let them grow ad libitum—there's only a small chance of discovering any that's pink. 

 

As my trees of 'Vanessa' mature, they'll form more and more branches as a result of their annual trims. The amount of pink-foliaged stems that appear all across the top of the portal should steadily increase, too. Each Fall, my Parrotia portal will flaunt a pink mohawk.

 

Here's how to grow Persian ironwood, plus pictures of how dignified the tree is in its mid-green Summer foliage. Here are pictures of the portal overall, showing how colorful it is all Fall.

 
 
FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!

 

Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:

 

* indicates required