Flowers are usually the stars of the garden, with their eye-catching colors, graceful shapes and spectacular sizes. However, in some cases the leaves steal the limelight, particularly those that appear in the spring when the landscape is still relatively bleak. These spring leaves bring life back to the garden in bright shades of red, burgundy and purple or a combination of these colors.
Red Dragon Maple (Acer Palmatum)
The Red dragon maple (Acer palmatum) is a cultivar from New Zealand introduced in 1990. It is a dissectum, meaning it has delicate, lacy leaves. In the springtime, the new leaves of the red dragon maple are a fiery red. The leaves hold their color as the tree develops, transforming to dark burgundy, then back to flaming red in the fall. The long and striking leaves look like the claws of a dragon, hanging from the branches. The red dragon maple is a well-branched tree. It reaches heights of around 5 to 6 feet during a period of about 10 years, and around 7 to 8 feet in a 15-year span. Protect this tree from cold wind and extreme sun by planting it in a sheltered spot. Ensure regular watering, especially during the summertime. Red dragon maple trees are deciduous, with slow to moderate growth. Other red dragon cultivars with red springtime leaves include the upright, spreading Sanguineum and the shrubby Shindeshojo.
Thundercloud Red Leaf Plum Tree(Prunus cerasifera 'Thundercloud')
In the spring, the Thundercloud red leaf plum tree (Prunus cerasifera 'Thundercloud') features bright-red, coppery leaves that turn a reddish-purple color for the remainder of the growing season. This ornamental tree grows to heights of between 15 and 25 feet, preferring lots of sunshine. It is not particular about the type of soil in which it grows and has an upright spreading form, developing rapidly. The arrival of small white or pink flowers in the spring adds a touch of color to this tree, appearing before the leaves. The Thundercloud red plum tree also exhibits edible purple fruit, as its name suggests.
Persian Parrotia Tree (Parrotia Persica)
The Persian parrotia tree or Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) comes from Iran. It is a deciduous tree with low, ascending branches, reaching between 20 and 40 feet in height with about the same spread. It has a slow rate of growth. Its new, alternate leaves first appear in reddish-purple hues in the spring. They eventually turn to dark green in the summer. In the fall, they are red, orange and yellow, suggesting the possibility of an alternate name, the tree of many colors. The Persian parrotia tree features red flowers that bloom between January and March. This tree prefers partial shade to full sun and well-drained soil. Do not to overwater it. It is a versatile tree, providing good shade as a street tree or patio tree.