Happy New Year Friends!

Pantone has released the 2015 color of the year, Marsala. As Carrie explains, you can enjoy this issue of the Leaf in Brief with a nice glass of earthy red wine, befitting this year's color.

The plant of the month is Autumn Joy Sedum. This plant is great for all four seasons. In wake of the recent snow, the video reminds you to remove snow loads from plants and encourages you to be cognizant of where you pile the snow.

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2015 Color of the Year by Carrie Hennessy, Horticulturist/Landscape DesignerFA



Happy New Year! How are those resolutions coming along? My resolutions this year are about getting MORE out of 2015: go to the gym more, travel more, drink more wine. Lucky for me, Pantone has declared the official color of the year to be "Marsala" which ties in nicely with that last resolution. They describe Marsala as a "naturally robust and earthy wine red" that "incorporates the warmth and richness of a tastefully fulfilling meal, while its ground red-brown roots point to a sophisticated, natural earthiness". Some fashion critics say it looks more "rusty" than "earthy" but prepare yourself to see Marsala on clothing racks and paint swatches this year.


For the last three years, the Leaf in Brief has given you plant suggestions for incorporating the official colors into your landscape. In 2015, Marsala's reddish-brown tones present a unique challenge, for it's not the showiest of colors. But you don't want all of the plants in your yard to be show stoppers. It's important to have some that are more neutral (like Marsala) to help tie everything together.

Let's give a "holla" for Marsala!

Abbey Road Masterwort

Astrantia major 'Abbey Road' PP14,961

Technically Abbey Road Masterwort will bloom a dark burgundy-pink in late spring through mid-summer. However as the flowers start to fade, they definitely take on a Marsala hue. Plant this in front of the border perennial in well-drained soil where it will get direct sunlight for at least 4 hours in a day.


Crimson Pygmy Barberry

Berberis thunbergii 'Crimson Pygmy'

Dusty burgundy leaves form a tight habit (just watch out for the thorns). The leaves towards the middle that don't get as much sun will be tinged with Marsala.


Palace Purple Coral Bells

Heuchera 'Palace Purple'

In full sun, this Coral Bell isn't so much purple as mahogany-red.


Crimson King Norway Maple

Acer platanoides 'Crimson King'

Often incorrectly referred to as a Red Maple, Crimson King Norway Maple has deep, maroon-red, almost purple leaves from spring until fall. The large leaves cast a dense shade, but when the sun illuminates the canopy, the color change definitely resembles Marsala.


Prairie Smoke

Geum triflorum

One of our smaller Wisconsin natives, the tight pink buds in spring will open to airy puffs of pale wine. Best in full sun, with dry soil.


Little Grapette Daylily

Hemerocallis 'Little Grapette'

Perhaps "Little Wino" was taken when they were naming this perennial. I think the color looks more like my favorite byproduct of a grape than the actual fruit.


Autumn Joy Sedum

Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy'

I saved the best for last. The flowers of Autumn Joy Sedum are a perfect representation of Marsala. Read on to learn more about Autumn Joy Sedum, selected as our Plant of the Month!

Abbey Road Masterwort (above) 

Crimson Pygmy Barberry

Palace Purple Coral Bells

Crimson King Norway Maple 

Prairie Smoke

Little Grapette Daylily

Autumn Joy Sedum
Autumn Joy Sedum

Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy'

Zone: 4   Exposure: Full Sun 
Mature Height: 18-24"   Mature Spread: 2'

Autumn Joy Sedum is a variety that has been around for many years. It continues to be found on the shelves of plant centers and nurseries because it has proven to be reliable. This is a plant for the lazy gardener. The poorer and drier the soil, the happier the Sedum. The flowers steal the show amongst perennials in autumn and are an important nectar source for bees and butterflies before winter. The sturdy flower stems hold up extremely well over winter and add texture and beauty to a winter landscape.
  A terrific winter interest plant

The Marsala colored fall/winter seed heads.
What's All the 'phus' About?

The national Sedum Society states "the best way of preserving them is to spread cuttings of plants to as many people as possible. You can then beg a piece back if you later lose one." Sedums can be easily propagated by leaf cuttings (especially the prostrate kinds). The word Sedum comes from the Latin sedo, meaning "to sit" referring to its ability to take root in the unlikeliest of places like rocks and cliffs.


Sedum spectabile (Showy Sedum) is also known as Sedum telephium, so named for Telephus, the son of Hercules, and affiliated with immortality. Myths surrounding Telephus are convoluted but one stands out involving Achilles. When the Greeks set off to conquer Troy, they accidentally entered into a battle with the city of Mysia, where Telephus ruled as king. I'm not really sure how one "accidentally" battles, but maybe the people of Mysia didn't appreciate an army taking a shortcut through their city. Either way, the warrior Achilles dealt Telephus a blow with his spear, leaving him in critical condition. An oracle told Achilles the Greeks would not win the war without Telephus and another oracle (perhaps the same) told Telephus he could only be healed by the spear that wounded him. Pieces of the rusty spear (rust is also a good description for the flowers of Sedum telephium, get it?) were scraped off into the festering gash, Telephus was miraculously healed, and he guided the Greek army towards Troy. 

Rooting leaf cuttings. (above)

Autumn Joy root structure.
Creating curb appeal. 
Telephus wounded by Achilles' spear. 

When clearing snow from your sidewalk or driveway, be careful where you pile it. Certain plants with stiff branches like Mugo Pines, Boxwoods, and Weigelas can break off under too much snow load. Also keep in mind that if you tend to pile up snow in big mounds, any spring bulbs or perennials underneath will emerge later than usual when spring arrives.

from Carrie's Quick Tips
by Carrie Hennessy
Duration 0:00:55

In cold temperatures, bending branches are not as flexible and could snap.

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