November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.
Emily Dickenson

We’re back to Standard Time and the sky begins to darken by 4:00 pm. The leaves are almost all down or else have turned crisp and brown. We were blessed ;ast week with a warm Indian Summer, but that has left us.

But a walk around my gardens made my spirits sing. First to be noticed was the foliage of the Illinois Rose on my arbor that had turned to subtle shades of wine and gold and coral.

Then I walked around a curve in the path and noticed a cluster of bright burgundy leaves–I stepped into the garden and found a pot of Wild Gooseberry that I had acquired at a Wild Ones plant exchange and had laid forgotten amongst the Joe Pye Weed all summer. Wild Gooseberry (Ribes missouriense) is common in woodlands in our area. It is the first shrub to leaf out in spring, has pale yellow flowers in April and May, and as we can see, its fan-shaped, round-lobed leaves turn to warm autumn colors. It can grow to 5’ tall and around. In the home landscape, grow it in sun or shade in the border or savanna/woodland. Careful when handling it–its stems are thorny.

When I planted my new Red Oak last spring, I underplanted it with Penn Sedge interspersed with May-blooming Jacob’s Ladder and Wild Geranium.

Now Wild Geranium gives us an encore in fall–its leaves turn a brilliant scarlet.
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) is a 3-season plant with pink flowers in May, good groundcover in summer and brightly-colored foliage in autumn. I’ve always planted plants, but it comes easily from seed, blooming the 2nd year.

The foliage of Prairie Alum Root becomes scarlet and wine in fall and persists all winter. A relative of Coral Bells and all the other heuchera on the market now, Prairie Alum Root (Heuchera richardsonii) is a robust, completely winter hardy native plant that is found in prairies and savannas. It begins to bloom in May and carries on through June. It makes a wonderful edging plant.

Rather unobtrusive during the growing season, Common Cinquefoil {Potentilla simplex) turns to glorious rich autumn colors. Small gleaming yellow flowers dot the creeping perennial in May and June. It is a splendid groundcover that is found in dry savannas and prairies. At my house it grows under the Black Haw.

The copper blades of Little Blue Stem are stunning in fall and winter. Along with Prairie Drop Seed it must be a part of every garden.

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