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Prairie Grasses in Late Fall

Prairie Grasses By December, the flowers of herbaceous plants have all faded and the leaves of woody plants have fallen.  But the landscape is not barren: some may think this is the most beautiful time of year.  Why is that?  Prairie grasses come into prominence, creating stunning pictures. Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) is one of […]

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 […]

Where is Jack Frost?

Where is Jack Frost? He is late–in previous years, he always came around 8 October, my mother-in-law’s birthday. Actually, it’s not Jack Frost that causes leaves to turn color. What causes leaves to turn color in the fall?   Shorter day lengths and cooler temperatures trigger the leaves to discontinue the production of chlorophyll, allowing […]

Farewell, Indian Summer

Farewell Indian Summer   SONGWRITERS WILLIAMS, HARRY/HICKMAN, A Does anyone remember that song? Here’s the rendition by Glenn Miller; there is also one by Frank Sinatra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa_faILW6MQ Obviously dating me. In this song, Indian Summer was a metaphor for a romance that had begun in June and had faded by Indian Summer. What really is […]

PAWPAW, SPIKENARD, SPICEBUSH, and WITCH HAZEL, OH MY

PAWPAW, SPIKENARD, SPICEBUSH, and WITCH HAZEL October Golden-leaved Plant Community  A group of unusual plants  grows along the south end of the  savanna in Potawatomi Park that is located between the  parkbuilding and the Fox River.  Shaded by a gigantic Linden or Basswood (Tilia americana) tree, the low ground never completely dries out. Paw Paw […]

Fiery Fall Foliage

Fiery Fall Foliage Let’s Plant Red-leaved Native Shrubs instead of the Invasive Burning Bush In the late 50’s-60’s, Compact Burning Bush (Euonymous alatus compactus) was introduced to the landscape industry and was soon installed on the corner of every newly built ranch house in the Northeast and Midwest, including ours.   While it does have […]

Fiery Fall Foliage

Fiery Fall Foliage First Week in November The Chicago area landscape was formed by ice.  As the Wisconsin glacier receded about 13,000 years ago, it deposited glacial till it had collected when it moved forward—boulders, stones, gravel, sand, and clay particles—and built overlapping moraines.  The material dropped out unevenly thereby creating rolling hills, ridges, and […]

My Red Oak

My Red Oak When I moved into my Sears Bungalow in the fall of 1997, my grandchildren, who, at that time, all lived in new sub-divisions with newly planted trees, referred to my neighborhood as the Neighborhood of Big Trees, which, indeed, it was.  Settled in the late 20’s, as houses went up, street trees […]

October Potpourri

Even though it was somewhat cloudy this morning, I was drawn outside by the kaleidoscope of colors I saw through the windows.  The most colorful of all was the American Hazelnut (Corylus americana) Its leaves have turned to vermillion, cranberry, apricot, and topaz that mix in with lingering chartreuse, while pendulous catkins form along the […]

The Big Show Has Ended, but Some Color Lingers On

The big show has almost ended, but some colorful leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers linger  on. Part 1 Herbaceous plants and grasses. The clusters of lavender-blue daisy flowers of Smooth Blue Aster (Aster laevis) are still in bloom.  It grows 2-4′ tall, blooming from September through early November. The Heath Aster (Aster ericoides), so-called because its […]