Tag Archive | autumn

My Nymph of the Woods, in Her Autumn Color

imageTupelo’s leaves change color early in the early fall and it has been suggested that this signal might alert migrating birds to the presence of ripe fruits on the tree, a process known as foliar fruit flagging. This way the tree gets its seeds spread to farther distances.

Plants producing early colorful fall foliage and fruits include dogwood, spicebush, virginia creeper and the tupelo.  These woodies produce fruits called ‘drupes’. Drupes are stone fruits (like cherries) that have a thin outer skin, a pulpy middle and a stony center enclosing a seed. The fleshy part of these drupes is full of fat, just what a hungry, migrating bird is looking for!

Many early ripening drupes are red, and easy for birds to see, however others, like virginia creeper, tupelo and sassafras, are dark-colored and not easy to see. That makes the brightly colored leaves or ‘flags’ on these plants crucial for the fall migrants to see.

Seed dispersal obviously helps the tree species, and passing through a birds digestive system is sometimes required for the seed to germinate. This process is called ‘scarification’, which simply means the hard, outer shell of the seed needs to be compromised for the seedling to emerge. The gizzard of a bird does well to damage the outer hull of a seed.

I recently saw two Cedar Waxwings testing out the fruit on my tree… Not quite ready was my impression when the quickly flew away without dining. I had to go find out for myself and agreed, the fruit tasted like a sour cherry and needs a few more days to ripen. I hope they will be back soon =-)

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I bet when the day comes these are ripe, it will be a one-day event that the tree is cleared of fruit!

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Zone: 3 to 9

Height: 30 to 50 feet

Spread: 20 to 30 feet

Growth: Slow

Form: Pyramidal when young; opens with age; some branches are pendulous; right angled branches are attractive in winter

Salt: Tolerant

Bloom Time: May to June, insignificant

Bloom Description: Greenish white

Fruit: 1/2″ blue drubes – edible but sour

Fall Color: yellow, orange, bright red and purple

Sun: Full sun to part shade

Water: Medium to wet

Tolerate: Clay Soil, Wet Soil

 


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Autumn Container Displays – 2016

 

All the basics from designing a summer container still apply when designing the fall pot:

The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller!

The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest.
Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature.
Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.
The only small difference you need to remember is that Fall plants do not grow like the Summer plants do. Basically, WYSIWYG (what you see, is what you get), you do not need to think about a plant growing into it’s place. Fill the pot to it’s greatest extent because this container will only be around for two months at best.

Most Fall plants are also not that tall. We use grasses, sticks and other material to get the height the design requires.

Here’s a list of our commonly ordered Fall plant material:

Miscanthus grasses – These add great height & texture
Pennisetum millet – Height & texture, fuzzy seedheads.
Heuchera – Coral bells – Great colored leaves available
Acorus & Carex – A nice bright yellow or white for a great spiller
Sedums – Great for spillers
Ajuga – Nice texture
Rudbeckia – Great reds, yellows and oranges available, also great for height
Kale – It comes in many varieties from cabbage/round style to tall parsley-looking
Osaka Cabbage – A staple in most of our designs. Fills those ‘holes’ really well
Swiss Chard – A wonderful filler that is very colorful also
Mums – Aren’t they the official fall flower?!? Great filler
Calibracoa – They look like small petunias, but can handle the cooler temps. Great spiller
Ivy – Sometimes we reuse the ivy from the summer containers as it still looks great and it’s much bigger than the newly ordered pots
Ornamental Jerusalem Cherry – Looks like a tomato plant, but use with caution, they don’t take the cool weather well & the ‘cherries’ fall off
Ornamental peppers – Great way to splash in some color to the filler section
Crotons – One of my favs! Great for a colorful thriller
Pansy – These cool season flowers look great and add great color to the pot
Bittersweet or honeysuckle – This one is not alive, but it is a great finishing touch to the design. Unfortunately, it is a very invasive species, but is grown for the floral industry. I wish someone would get a business together where they would ‘wild collect’ this and do a ‘two-fer’ for society, invasive removal & design enjoyment.

   

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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 9-12-2016

For a Great Spring Lawn Display, Design Now!

Bulbs in the lawnWhere to plant and what type of bulbs varies with how the gardener wants to deal with the remaining leaves after blooming. The leaves must be allowed to stay long enough to gather energy for next year. Taller bulb varieties must not be mowed down until early summer. Shorter leaved varieties can be mowed over, as leaf height is close to the same height of grass. My experience deems these shorter varieties have a better chance for survival, as most residents feel the need to mow their lawn as early as possible.

How Leaves Cha-cha-cha-Change Colors in Autumn

leavesLeaves are green because of chlorophylls that function by capturing the sun’s energy and to manufacture food for the plant or photosynthesis. All of this takes place in the plastids (specialized cells). During the growing season, the green color of these chlorophylls masks out all the other colors that may be present. So all you see is green.

As the growing season slows in autumn, chlorophyll production slows and the green-color dominance lowers to reveal the other colors of the leaf. Many influences such as amount of water, sunlight, temperature, and microclimate can manipulate the timing of the color changes.  A couple of weeks of bright sunny days mixed with clear, cool nights seem to bring out the best fall colors.

Fall is the Time to Dethatch Lawns in the Midwest

Thatch LayerThatch is a layer of dead grass, crowns, and surface roots that accumulate at the surface of the soil just under the turf. Allowing a small layer, about ½ an inch will act as a great natural mulch, but any more than that will cause the following:

  • Tight, spongy mat that will choke the crowns of the living grass
  • Inhibits the decomposition of organic debris around the grass
  • Prevents good circulation of air
  • Can provide breeding grounds for harmful pests
  • Can harbor diseases such as fungus

 

Ilex VS Lawn Fungus

Changing your lawn care habits might reduce your risk of fungi problems. A healthy lawn has a really good chance of pulling through a fungal infection, but that is up to you!disease Triangle

  • Water your grass regularly, but don’t water it too much because waterlogged grass invites fungi. Don’t set your irrigation and not monitor it.
  • Dry grass can also makes your lawn more susceptible.
  • A nitrogen-based fertilizer applied annually (in the fall) supplies your grass with the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • When you mow, don’t remove more than one-third of the length of the blades of grass at a time. A healthy length for grass (from the thatchline) is 3 inches tall.

I’ve noticed many different types of fungus coming out in droves because of our weather this season. Some are fairly rare and hard to treat. I wish we could get over the ‘Perfect Lawn’ mentality and all just enjoy the clovers and other blooming weeds. =-)

Dog-Gone Poo Rollers!

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We love you Mommy!!

I just got home after a monster day. As I pulled up to the garage, the boys had already anticipated my arrival and were crying at the window. Awe, someone loves me! ❤

I let them out and got the ‘Whip it’ and loaded it with a fresh tennis ball. After a enough throws to cause tongues to hang to the grass, I collected the balls and went back into the garage.

Welp. It wasn’t long before they were done in the yard themselves. They came in and looked at me for their suppers. But wait. What is that on your neck Oreo? Gaaa….. Poo! And since it’s all our nothing in this house, Breck had to roll in it also.

So much for a quiet start to my evening. Baths for everyone!

It’s that time of year again. The apple crop was great this year and many of the furries like to gorge themselves on the free buffet. Since animals have no couth, they poop as needed, right in the middle of the buffet line.

 

 

 

I’ve read up on the philosophy dog trainers have accredited this type of obsession. One or more of the following drives my dogs to wear poop:

  • This is ‘MINE’. Not yours, mine.

  • Lets go show Mommy what we found! We’ll bring it to her!

  • This smells different than me, and I like change.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

My Love Affair With Autumn

Ah, Autumn. I have a bittersweet love affair with him. He sneaks into my life when I’m out enjoying the asters in the prairie…. when I’m watching the birds pass to the south…. when I rub my arms because my body is chilled.

He surrounds me.

Surrounds me with his rich tones of emotion that float in the air….

never wanting to land,

for then,

then he must leave.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 9-28-2015

Happy Monday!!

How Leaves Cha-cha-cha-Change Colors in Autumn

leavesLeaves are green because of chlorophylls that function by capturing the sun’s energy and to manufacture food for the plant or photosynthesis. All of this takes place in the plastids (specialized cells). During the growing season, the green color of these chlorophylls masks out all the other colors that may be present. So all you see is green.

As the growing season slows in autumn, chlorophyll production slows and the green-color dominance lowers to reveal the other colors of the leaf. Many influences such as amount of water, sunlight, temperature, and microclimate can manipulate the timing of the color changes.  A couple of weeks of bright sunny days mixed with clear, cool nights seem to bring out the best fall colors.

 

Thatch LayerFall is the Time to Dethatch Lawns in the Midwest

The most common cause of thatch is compacted soils. Grass roots will seek air at the soil surface and then die. Other causes:

  • Overuse of fast-acting nitrogen fertilizers causes rapid growth at the expense of a good root system. These also tend to acidify the soil, repelling beneficial thatch-eating earthworms.
  • Overwatering drowns microorganisms in the soil that decompose thatch
  • Mowing too closely or taking off more than one-third of the blade causes more thatch

 

Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park

imageThe Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan features momentous works of art within a variety of natural settings that are connected by waterways, winding paths, meadows and quiet walkways. Masters such as Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Mark di Suvero, Richard Serra, Roxy Paine and many others have sculptures across the Meijer Gardens. This was one of my favorites by Jaume Plensa.

There are other parts of the museum. See some photos:

Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park – Inside the Tropics

Frederick Meijer Sculpture Park – Arid / Predatory Rooms

 

 

Anderson Japanese Gardens – Rockford, Illinois

Construction of Anderson Japanese Gardens began in 1978, when Rockford businessman John Anderson was inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. With the ongoing assistance of renowned Master Craftsman and designer Hoichi Kurisu, the Andersons’ swampy backyard along Rockford’s Spring Creek was transformed into a Japanese-style landscape. From groundbreaking to today, the placement of every rock, alignment of every tree, and layout of all paths has been made with careful consideration by Mr. Kurisu. In 1998, John and Linda Anderson donated the Gardens as a supported organization to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association. It now exists as a not-for-profit entity and continues to grow and change to this day.

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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl