July Fruit’n’Foliage

Don’t you think Fruit’n’Foliage would make a good name for a breakfast cereal? It could be made with kale flakes and blueberries. Or not blueberries – too common. Kale flakes and açai berries! You heard it here first.

Don’t look at the flowers! There’s other stuff, too.

But enough of that. Today I want to look at interesting things in the garden that aren’t flowers.


For instance, there’s this Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana). After it finishes blooming in June, I cut it back and this chartreuse foliage grows back. It catches the light really nicely.


Then there’s the River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium). It’s almost 4′ tall and the seed heads are about full size.


Here’s a closer look at the seed heads. This year I intend to cut them back after they ripen so as to cut down on the self-seeding.


‘Northwind’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is standing tall and leafy.


I’ve also got a clump of three kinds of Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). So far this clump doesn’t have a big visual impact, but I hope that will change as the individual plants get bigger. Here’s a close up – hey, I said don’t look at the flowers!


The Wild Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis) is bloomed in early summer, but now has these interesting seed pods. The foliage still looks pretty good, too.


Now let’s walk to the shady back garden. Along the path we see lots of Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), and other foliage.


Here’s some more ferns. Not really sure what kind they are.


When I say fruit, I’m really talking about fruit for birds, not people. For instance, there’s this Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum). The berries eventually turn bright red. Actually, some people make preserves with the fruit, and I think the Native Americans used them as food.


Another plant with berries is Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum racemosum – used to be Smilacina, the taxonomists strike again). They start out green and turn bright red by the time they are ripe. Here they are sort of a bronzy color.

In our garden, Solomon’s Plume tends to flop from the weight of the berries. And that is why I have Casimir the Concrete Chicken, along with a number of containers, strategically placed to provide support. Casimir is surprisingly helpful around the garden.


Oh, and I should mention that I’ve become quite the Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis) convert. Aside from the flowers, what a great ground covering foliage plant this is.


If you go back into the alley, you’ll see the Black Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) we have growing over the fence in the far corner. Big white flower clusters have turned into big clusters of green berries, which will ripen in August. After that, they’ll be eaten by  birds.


Look, Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla)! After two unsuccessful attempts, I finally got it to grow. It’s a host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail. I’m hoping that it will grow all the way up a small snag I’ve attached to the back fence.

I’m linking to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, hosted by Christina at My Hesperides Garden. Follow the link to see more great foliage plants!

43 Comments on “July Fruit’n’Foliage”

  1. I love the backyard garden. The beds along the shady path are beautiful and restful. And I like how Casimir, the plumey one, is clothed in a Solomon’s plume. Well done. We had a a Dutchman’s pipe for years, and it was vigorous and green, but I never saw the pipes.

  2. I particularly like the grasses you show us – Switchgrass and Oats. The oat seedheads would look great in a vase when you cut them back…. you should join us all one Monday! 😉 I agree on the Hellebore foliage. I don’t think I had noticed it before, but with such a damp year it has flourished and looks really good as ground cover.

  3. Brilliant post Jason highlighting that plants that flower also add a lot to the garden when their flowers are gone with beautiful foliage. That’s why I say we should always consider the foliage even when choosing a plant for its flowers. Do you use the elderflowers to make syrup or sorbet, it’s delicious. I also sometimes add the berries to blackberries to make jelly. Thanks for joining GBFD

  4. After reading your post, I braved the heat to check the fruit in my yard. Other than the cotoneaster, sadly lacking. Even the Black Haw Viburnum is nearly bare. I took a pic of a ‘Blue Muffin’ Viburnum on the Fling just to prove to myself that they ARE supposed to fruit – mine never has to any significant degree.

  5. How lovely! Using the concrete chicken for support is a great idea. Your cranberry viburnum has gorgeous leaves, and the berries are a terrific bonus. You have a lot of fruit and foliage in your garden, and I have to admit, I also love the flowers!

  6. Love the variety of green foliage. Northern sea oats are gorgeous in a vase; I have to remember to cut them back before they self-seed! Hellebore is probably one of my favorite garden plants and the leaves help out in the summer after it has bloomed. Your garden is looking good!

  7. I think you might just have a winner on your hands with that cereal!
    I just love the river oat seedheads, lovely and northwind is looking rather majestic too….oh….and I promise, I DIDN’T look at the flowers, not once!xxx

  8. Great foliage choices, Jason. I think one of the difficult lessons for new gardeners is the importance of foliage. I planted both Amsonia tabernaemontana and Baptisia australis sight unseen in my Blue and Yellow Border because a gardening book described them as good architectural plants. It turned out to be good advice, and I love the way both look all season long. I’m about to add more of each to my new front garden.

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