|Ostrya virginiana (American Hophornbeam)|
|come spring newly emerging leaves will push the old leaves off the tree|
You might have seen them in a nearby woodland, like these beeches along the trail at Percy Warner Park in Middle Tennessee. I love seeing a 'grove' of them marching down the hillside and fluttering in the winter wind.
Even on the grayest days they create depth in our other wise two dimensional winter woods.
They look especially beautiful back lit on a snowy winter's day.
This morning I noticed this beautiful beech in full marvelous marcesence outside the Radnor Lake visitor center.
Early settlers used the springy beech leaves to stuff their mattresses
The leaves still had streaks of summer green and were dry, yet, springy to the touch. Out of curiosity I tried to tug one of them from the branch; it would not budge. I've noticed this same springy quality to the clinging leaves on my Dancing Tree (seen in first photo) and on several of the witch hazels in my garden.
I love the Dancing Tree's marvelous clinging leaves and American Beech's leaves are so attractive that I will plant one or two in my garden, but, I wish the witch hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' did not hang so stubbornly to her leaves. Only once has 'Diane' dropped her leaves before blooming and that time it took several arctic blasts to freeze dry the leaves right off her. Barring extreme winter weather, there are two choices open to me. I can accept the leaves or I can cut them off! I haven't decided which it shall be. But, if you're driving by this weekend and notice someone up on a ladder, that will be me, cutting away those marvelous marsescent leaves.
|Last winter with marscecent leaves still clinging|
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone."