This Weekend in My Back Yard

This Weekend in my Back Yard



Golden-leaved Wild Grape (Vitis riparia) crawls along my neighbor’s clothes line contrasting beautifully with the scarlet leaves of my Hazelnut.  One never plants Wild Grape–it just shows up, planted by birds,



American Hazelnut (Corylus americana) is the most spectacular autumn shrub we have in the Midwest. Its leaves turn to a kaleidoscope  of dazzling colors: amber, topaz, chartreuse, scarlet, and flame.  A large shrub, 4-8’ tall, it will colonize, although last year was the first year one of mine created a new shrub–15 years after I planted them.  Plant 3 or more to assure a good production of its nuts.



Isn’t this gorgeous?  Do you know what it is?  No?  I wouldn’t have known a few years back, either.  It’s Wild Gooseberry (Ribes missouriense) found in woodlands and trailsides.  The first shrub to leaf out in the spring, its fan shapes leaves turn to these exquisite colors show above.  It grows 3’ tall and around and grows best in partial shade.


The greenish-golden, heart-shaped leaves of Redbud (Cercis canadensis) stand out in front of the Hazelnuts.  A small native understory tree, it  grows up to 25’ tall and around–see last week.


Golden-leaved Solomon’s Seal (Pologonatum canaliculatum) peaks out from under the Hazelnut


Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium) never fails to produce brilliant crimson leaves.  Another must have shrub for fall color, it grows up to 15’ tall and 8-12’ wide.  It can be part of a border or a specimen.

Like the Hazelnut, while it has male and female flowers on the same shrub, it is self-infertile.   It takes two shrubs to produce berries.  This is true of other viburnums, as well, such as Nannyberry and American Cranberrybush.  (Marietta Nowak, Birdscaping in the Midwest)



Cat Brier (Smilax termnoides) first appeared in the far northeast corner of my property at the edge of my savanna in 2011.  But it seems to have disappeared from there and there is  now one growing in my savanna island.  A vine that will grow up to 15’, Cat Brier is the thorniest vine that we have, according to Dick Young in his book, Kane County  Wild Plants & Natural Areas . The clear yellow leaves show off against the  still green foliage of the spent asters and goldenrod.


No matter what time of year, Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum  virginicum) is beautiful.


Look what I found in my island garden!   A baby Red Oak (Quercus rubra),  There are some mature Red Oaks down the street–a squirrel could have planted an acorn from them.  I think I should cage it–what should I use to do that?


I decorate my dining room table in its Autumn dress the 1st of October and leave it up until the end of November.  I seem to be collecting pumpkins–don’t they make a beautiful grouping?



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7 Responses to This Weekend in My Back Yard

  1. Peggy Timmerman November 1, 2016 at 9:35 am #

    Hardware cloth makes a good cage material, the holes are small enough to keep out the little critters. You can use a 24 inch high piece and tie the ends together with zip ties. You will still need to stake it with something.

    • PatHill November 3, 2016 at 4:01 am #

      Thank you–I’ll try that.

  2. Jason November 1, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    I didn’t know the native hazelnut has such great fall color. A lot of the foliage here is still green. My Blackhaw shrubs never have much color, I wonder why.

    • PatHill November 3, 2016 at 8:28 am #

      Maybe you have too much shade. Mine have morning shade and afternoon sun.

  3. Suzanne Massion November 2, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    Pat, you given me a new appreciation for Wild Gooseberry and Solomon’s seal. The gooseberry is so thorny and doesn’t always grow in a convenient spot but I try to let it be for the birds’ sake. I’ve always loved the graceful Solomon’s Seal but its yellow color right now deserves a second look by any artist.

    • PatHill November 3, 2016 at 8:12 am #

      My Wild Gooseberry was hidden behind some tall asters and Sweet Black-eyed Susan–I had to cut those down in order to see the stunning foliage of the shrub. I would like to get a couple more.

  4. Mary Alice Masonick November 5, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    Exquisite images, Pat!

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