Burgundy Foliage Part 1

Ahoy all.  I hope you’re still staying safe after 2 months of coronavirus lockdown.  I’m still working in clients gardens and my own garden is still keeping me sane(ish). I’m glad Rick and I are in this together. 

I had to wait to do this post until one of my plants was completely leafed out. I adore foliage that is NOT GREEN.  Green is all well and good and means that the plant is happy and growing.   But green is everywhere!  I LOVE when a plant stands out and compliments it’s neighbor. And burgundy foliage is awesome! I have a LOT of burgundy leaved plants.  So, I decided to make this post in several parts.  

First up is Euphorbia cotinifolia.  This plant is native to Mexico and South America which means it is a little frost tender. Mine goes only mostly deciduous depending on the winter weather. “Cotinifolia” means leaves like a Cotinus(which you shall see soon).  It is a big shrub or small tree and makes little creamy white flowers that are hardly noticeable.  It is mostly grown for it’s gorgeous burgundy red foliage.  Euphorbias have white milky sap inside that can be an eye or skin irritant.  I once pruned the big one and got some sap in my eye.  Oh, it burned for hours and stayed red for a whole day.  But I recovered.  Now I prune them while wearing goggles.    The first 2 pics are of my first plant.  I almost lost it in the big freeze about 15 years ago.  The 3rd pic is of the 2 babies I made from cuttings from the first plant.  They all lived in pots until we bought this house almost 10 years ago.  Now I cut them back to roof level about once per year.  You can see that the 2 need trimming. 

My biggest Euphorbia plant

I love how the plant glows when the sun shines through. 
The 2 “babies” on the east side of the house. 

Cotinus coggyria or Smoke Tree is another big shrub or small tree. It is native to Asia and Europe.  For most of my nursery working life(25 years ago) I thought that we couldn’t grow this plant here.  Then I began to see it in a few nurseries. But it was so expensive! I was lucky to find this one in a 2 gal pot for about $25   I can think of one mature plant in Glendale that I used to see driving around. And I have only two clients who grow it.  It is called “Smoke” tree because it makes these little wispy pink flowers above the foliage in Spring.  Mine was too quick to bloom to catch in photos.  Sorry about that.  I’ve seen it about 20′ tall.  I don’t think I’ll let mine grow that large.  Now it is about 5′ tall and wide. And I recently trimmed off several stupid branches.  “stupid” meaning that they were sticking out in weird ays that I didn’t like.  

Cotinus leaves up close. 

Seen here with one of the Euphorbia. See how they’re similar. 

Next up is Agonus flexuosa ‘Burgundy’ or Peppermint Tree.   It is a small tree that is native to Australia(as all the cool plants are) and will get to about 25′ tall.  When the leaves are crushed they smell like peppermint!  Burgundy leaves AND peppermint fragrance- YES PLEASE!  I love BOTH those things! And the leaves are almost black! How cool is that?  I bought this tree in a 5 gallon can before we moved.  So, it has been in the ground for maybe 8 years and has been slow growing.  It is only about 7′ tall.  

Agonus leaves up close. 

I know I already posted about the Black Diamond Crape Myrtles but I had to include them with this.   See that post from 2018 here Black Diamond Crape Myrtle  This plant just leafed out a couple weeks ago and is already thinking about blooming.   The contrast between them and all the other green plants is striking. I adore them in the garden.  And all mine in the front yard have cherry red flowers.  I have a lavender one and a white one in our backyard.  

Black Diamond Crape Myrtle seen from the south east side. 

The last for today is Canna Lily “Tropicanna”.  They’re native to South and Central Americas and Mexico. It grows from a rhizome(people just call it a “bulb”) under the ground and usually dies back to almost nothing in winter.  Mine often have a few sprouts showing then.    Cannas bloom in warm weather.   Each stem only blooms once and should be cut to the ground after flowering.  Sometimes they spread too far and come up amidst a neighbor plant.  I just yank them out then.  It’s pretty easy. Tropicanna has stripes to go along with its burgundy foliage and orange flowers that come atop 4-6′ stalks.  What a great combo! 

There is a bud getting ready to bloom on one stalk center left. But see how it’s coming up in a little rose bush. 

 
I hope you enjoyed part one of burgundy foliage from my garden. Stay tuned for more and stay safe.  

Happy Gardening!