October 24th

I’d argue with anyone that Thursday, the 24th of October was the nicest day of 2019 thus far. A perfect 65 degrees, not a cloud to speak of, and a gentle breeze to carry the calming smells of fall. Color is rich everywhere you turn, from the deep blue of Narragansett Bay to the reds and yellows of the maple and linden trees. It’s days like this you hope will never end – they’re the perfect time to soak in nature for all it’s worth.

Our native witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginana) is starting to bloom throughout the wooded areas of northeast. I spotted this beautiful shrub flowering two weeks ago in upstate New York, and again earlier this week here at Blithewold. This plant will continue to yield translucent yellow flowers throughout December, varying by location.

The spider-like flowers of common witch-hazel

Fruits of all different shapes and sizes cover many trees and shrubs this time of year. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), a multi-faceted native, is commonly weighed down by its fruit set. The variety ‘Sun Splash’ on the border of the Rock Garden had me in disbelief when I saw how many brilliant red berries were packed on at the base of the leaves. At the other end of the spectrum, the dove tree (Dividia involucrata) appears quiet, and it is. However, with closer inspection, a dozen or more solitary fruits ranging from green to brown shake softly in the breeze. Their current shape is similar to that of a kiwi, size a tad smaller (1’’ to 1-3/4’’) and hard to the touch. As far I know, these drupes, or fleshy indehiscent fruit, with a solid seed-containing center shell, are not edible.

The lonely drupe of the dove tree.
‘Sun Splash’ winterberry loaded with fruit.

On Thursday November 9th, Blithewold is excited to present Matt Mattus speaking at our annual garden design luncheon at the Rhode Island country club. I am eager to hear about Matt’s experiences traveling to the far reaches of the globe, searching for unknown and exotic plants, and the interesting vegetables he came across in Chinese markets . Any person interested in horticulture will be lucky to hear about this informative and unique experience most plant geeks could only dream of undertaking.