A Gardening Journal

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Golden European Ash in Spring & Summer

The stems and buds of golden European ash are plenty interesting during the long leafless months of Fall, Winter, and early Spring. The show continues in late Spring—late April for me—when striking ebony buds swell.

 

Fraxinus excelsior Aureafolia foliage just starting to emerge from a tip foliage bud 043016 640

 

Buds at the tips and upper portions of the stems produce foliage only.

 

Fraxinus excelsior Aureafolia foliage emerging from stem tip 043016 640

 

True to the cultivar name—'Aureafolia'—the foliage is golden.

 

Fraxinus excelsior Aureafolia emerging foliage along the length of the stem not the tip 043016 640

 

Farther down the stems, some buds produce short sprays of blossoms that are so tiny and ephemeral that you won't regret missing them.

 

Fraxinus excelsior Aureafolia flowers overall 043016 640

 

I didn't catch them for years, myself. Fraxinus excelsior 'Aureafolia' isn't grown for its flowers which, as below, are interesting only under magnification.

 

Fraxinus excelsior Aureafolia flowers fingers 043016 640

 

In my experience, the yellow color of the emerging foliage is fleeting; by the time the leaves have fully expanded, they have become green. It's much more satisfying to note, as in the picture taken today, the enduring yellow of the young stems. The green foliage provides lacy contrast.

 

Fraxinus excelsior Aureifolia top of canopy 082016 640

 

The tips of the stems already display the striking ebony bud scales that are so prominent all Winter on the then-leafless stems.

 

Fraxinus excelsior Aureifolia fingers stem tip 082016 640

 

These terminal bud scales are the cappers to this season's growth. Why didn't I follow the stems in June and July more closely, to see what their tips looked like when new growth was still forming? (Early Summer next year, I promise.) Surely, these heavy dark scales weren't produced time and again over the Summer, only to be shed as each new rank of leaves matured.

 

I'll tie a thread around the tip of this stem to confirm that, indeed, new growth has stopped for the season. Stay tuned for another look as Fall develops; perhaps I'll be able to enthuse about the foliage color as the weather becomes cooler.

 

Even if the Fall foliage isn't dramatic, this tree's performance is sustained year-round thanks to the bark and buds of the young stems. It's diverse year-round, too, thanks to the emergence of leaves in Spring, their shedding in Fall, and their excellent contrast with the yellow stems all Summer. Even though the Spring flowers aren't showy, this tree still merits a prime location in the garden.

 

 

Here's how colorful the bark and buds of leafless stems of golden European ash are from mid-Fall to Spring, plus a discussion of the striking rounded tips that many of the stems display.

 

Here's how exciting this tree's growth is in Fall.

 

Here's how to grow golden European ash, as well as shots of its colorful stems when they were several years younger, when none of them was swollen at the tip.

 
 
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