GBFD: September Foliage and Fruit

The colors of autumn are only starting to settle in here in Chicago. Grasses often have more of a fall look than does the foliage or flowering perennials. The ‘Northwind’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) are displaying their airy panicles, though the leaves are still blue-green.

Switchgrass Northwind
Switchgrass ‘Northwind’

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The ‘Northwind’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) are displaying their airy panicles.

The dangling seedheads of Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are turning from green to tan.

Northern Sea Oats
Northern Sea Oats

The dangling seedheads of Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are turning from green to tan.

Prairie Dropseed
Prairie Dropseed

And the Prairie Dropseed (Sporobulus heterolepsis) is providing a nice display, along with that fragrance that is like a mix of cilantro and buttered popcorn. My Dropseed have not yet reached full size, but I am happy with how they are coming along. This is a prairie grass for people who want a more modest height.

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Oh, and for the latest outrage committed by the evil and vicious rabbits, take a look at my new Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’). Where once were beautiful arching stems of golden green, now there are but pathetic stumps. DON’T THINK YOU’LL GET AWAY WITH THIS FOREVER, RABBITS! AS GOD IS MY WITNESS I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!


Ahem. Among the flowering perennials, Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) is starting to show just a hint of yellow.

False Forget Me Not with Wild Columbine foliage
False Forget Me Not with Wild Columbine foliage

Not sure why these False Forget Me Not (Brunnera macrophyllum) leaves are so huge. Here they are with Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), the Columbine showing it can make a nice groundcover when properly sited.

The fruits this year have all been consumed early – spicebush berries, dogwood berries, elderberries, and Viburnums – all devoured before we returned from vacation in mid-September. What’s left is mainly Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and ‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapples.


I’m told Snowberry are edible but taste like soap. I’ve never tried them, so I wouldn’t know. Birds are supposed to consider them a last resort food, to be eaten when everything else has been consumed. The white berries are pretty enough in fall.

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As for crabapples, this year the branches are weighed down with fruit.  I wonder why the birds don’t eat these earlier in the season.


The very first leaves are turning on the woody plants. Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) leaves are turning buttery yellow.

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And the very first of the ‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry (Amelanchier xgrandiflora)  leaves have put on their Autumn color.

What is your favorite fall fruit on an ornamental plant?

For more garden foliage, check out Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides.

39 Comments on “GBFD: September Foliage and Fruit”

  1. Your changes in the garden are lovely!!!! Minus the attack on your forest grass of course….makes me want to put some chickenwire around mine!!! Your switchgrass is so pretty!!! I am currently loving my new blazing red coreopsis!!! It is still gorgeous in color and blooms!!!! Happy fall to you Jason!

  2. Take heart! At least the Japanese Forest Grass will be back in full splendor next summer. I’m reminded (a bit) of when starving deer decimated my Red Flowering current, Ribies sanguineum (woody branches and all). The deer must have removed the top third of the plant. All winter I had to stare at those bare truncated branches. But when the plant leafed out in the spring, it turned out the deer did an adequate pruning job after all, the “haircut” seemed to result in double the spring bloom.

  3. Grasses and berries are the highlights at this time of year and you have a wonderful selection. I’ve just planted a Chasmanthium and can’t wait till it looks as pretty as yours! I’m enjoying our Cotoneaster berries and the blackbirds are enjoying the yew berries right now. I love any berries that are red, but the black elderberries are a real show too.

  4. Do you like the smell of the dropseed? I’m NOT a fan.
    Love the panicums! I used to wonder why people liked this grass, but over the last couple years it’s really grown on me, enough so that I actually have a couple of my own now. My Northwind almost looks as nice as yours!

  5. Jason, this Brunnera is so big, leaves are dark green! The snowberry bush in my garden is in fruit too. Pretty! I’ve not known that they are edible! Strange, the birds eat them here too, usually in October. What do you do with crab apples? Jam or freeze them?

  6. Damn rabbits! Love ‘Northwind’ so much…such a lovely grass…and I just bought my first Sporobolus a few weeks ago (after searching for it for years)! I love that scent…it’s so odd the first time you smell it…I’m crossing my fingers that mine gets that glorious autumn color they are known for 🙂

  7. I really love the colour of Northwind and tend to love all grasses, especially the rustling sound of the wind whispering through them and the wonderful swaying.

    I have Snowberry growing wild in my back garden, as you say it’s very pretty.xxxx

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