Tag Archives: fall colors

November in Chicago

Watching fall unfold here in suburban Chicago has been an odd event this year.  There have been spectacular tree colors, but it’s been happening over the course of about 6 weeks instead of one glorious event.  So instead of enjoying a panorama of color like in Wisconsin and Michigan, I’ve been admiring individual trees for weeks.

autumn blaze maple


Even at this late November date, there are trees that are still showing green or color dappled leaves, right next to a tree that has already dropped all its leaves.


Now if it was just a particular type of tree, like an oak, that’d be understandable since they always hold their brown leaves well into winter (and sometimes spring).  But it’s random maples, viburnums, burning bushes and others.


I’ve never seen this serviceberry have so much fruit!

serviceberry fruit

The Purple Pearls Beautyberry Bushes (Callicarpa x NCCX1), after a very slow start had a great fall display of purple berries to liven up the yard.  (Beautyberry Bushes, Did They Survive the Winter?)

beautyberry bush

Some flowers and vegetables haven’t minded the mild fall.




sweet hundreds tomatoes

And then, even with leaves in the trees the week of thanksgiving the snow has arrived! Lots of heavy, wet snow.  The kind that looks really pretty, but is tough on the trees and shrubs. And the back!


redbud in winter


The Common Witch hazel was blooming prolifically this fall after having some changes to the surrounding bushes giving it more space and sun.

witch hazel flowers

crabtree fruit

 How was your fall?


Fall in Door County, Wisconsin

Fall in Door County

In addition to going to Northern Michigan for the weekend (Fall in Northern Michigan/Stumbling Upon Club-Mosses), Steve and I  made a trip up to Door County, Wisconsin the third week of October.  It was definitely peak colors that week and it was spectacular.

The day started like this!  Sunrise over Lake Michigan.

Sunrise in Bailey's Harbor

After breakfast, we started to explore…

Fall in Door County

The forests of Door County are full of hardwoods like Sugar Maple, Beech, Ash, Red Oak, White Oak and Paper Birch.

Fall in Door County

Fall in Door County

Fall in Door County

Fall in Door County

Looking down we were surprised to see these Maidenhair Ferns (Adiantum pedatum). Always a fun find!

Maidenhair fern

Even this late, the raspberry garden is still full of juicy raspberries.

everbearing raspberries

Of course, Daisy is enjoying the fall woods as well!




Fall in Northern Michigan/Stumbling Upon Club-Mosses

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the upper Midwest and see an amazing explosion of fall color.

I spent one of those weekends visiting my mom Peggy in Northern Michigan.   Once the rain finished, we went out to the woods to have a look at some of the beautiful places Peggy likes to visit.  Even though it may not have been peak color time, the textures and colors of the Northern Michigan forests that weekend were still stunning.

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

Daisy decided it was warm enough to go in the water.  She’s become much more daring in her old age.

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

We had some fun taking panoramic pictures.

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

After lunch, we headed to a new spot to check out a beaver house.

Fall in Wexford County, Michigan

We didn’t see any beavers, but saw some very active muskrats enjoying the warm fall day.

beaver house

On the walk back to the car, we were poking around in the woods.  I was particularly intrigued by the club-mosses that were so easy to spot this time of year.  I shot some pictures of my find, and then noticed my mom was also taking pictures.  She had seen the same thing in another spot and they had captured her interest as well!

Spinulum annotinum Stiff Clubmoss

Spinulum annotinum (Stiff Club-moss)

While we were looking at the Spinulum annotinum, we realized that there were a number of other species of club-mosses in the area.

Dendrolycopodium obscurum Tree Clubmoss

Dendrolycopodium obscurum (Tree Club-Moss)

Lycopodium clavatum Running Ground Pine

Lycopodium clavatum (Running Ground Pine)

Club-mosses are perennial, evergreen plants related to ferns and horsetails.   They spread by runners, either above or below ground (rhizomes) and get their name from the club-like, spore producing strobili found on top of many club-moss species.

IMG_3495 - Version 2

Club-mosses were often collected for Christmas decorations, but these are very slow growing plants and are now protected in most states.

As a bonus, there were lots of British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella), Pixie Cups (Cladonia chlorophaea complex) and Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) in the area.

British Soldiers, Pixie Cups and Wintergreen

I’m always amazed at the fascinating things you can find just a few feet off the beaten trail.

Interesting Club-Moss Resources:

It’s a Great Day to be Red!

Today’s post is a tribute to my son’s high school cross country team who will be traveling to the IL state meet tomorrow with the goal of coming home #1!  As everything around town has been turning from summer green to fall red, it brings to mind that this could very well be the year that it will be “RED” hoisting the championship trophy.
As a send-off to the boys, here are some of the beautiful red colors we’ve been seeing lately.

maple leaf


Fall leaves




Sargent Crab Tree




Norway Maple








Burning Bush





No matter what happens this weekend, just like this geranium still strongly blooming late into fall, these boys are tenacious and aren’t going away anytime soon.  Good Luck!

Michigan Tamaracks in Fall

You can find the beautiful and interesting Tamarack tree (Larix laricina) in Michigan. They are also known as the Eastern Larch. The Tamarack tree is a member of the pine family, and looks like most pine trees, except with one important difference; it loses its needles every fall making it a “deciduous conifer.” It thrives in the wet soil of bogs, swamps and lake edges. In the fall, the Tamaracks provide yet one more glowing color to the fall landscape, and they were just beginning to change this past week in northwestern Michigan.








photos by Peggy

First Frost Warning is Coming Tonight!

I feel pretty lucky that we’ve squeaked out an extra week or so before the first hard frost has hit the Chicago area.  NOAA has issued it’s first freeze watch for the area for tonight, almost a week my after the average date for my area.  We might even get some flurries!  Chicago is a little difficult to know what will really happen weather-wise at any one spot in the region, since Lake Michigan  and other land features create a lot of micro-climates that skew local temperatures and precipitation.  Check out this map of Chicagoland’s variations from WGN-TV in average first frost dates.

Even so, I think tonight will be it for the plants.  I went around yesterday and took some last pictures of the flowers and harvested the last of the vegetables in preparation.  I’m always a little sad this time of year, when the garden still looks so inviting after having finally recovered from the harsh mid -summer conditions. Yet I know it is only a matter of time till it’s over.  It’s like the plants want that last hurrah before going to sleep for the winter, or for the annuals, to go out in a blaze of glory.

Final Garden Harvest–having just been in Charleston, I am going to use those green tomatoes!
 The garden is still in bloom




petunia geranium




Some of the trees are showing their colors, but not very uniformly or brilliantly.  Some are showing the stress of  2 harsh summers and disease, while others haven’t even begun to change.

purple ash

branched maple


It’ll be interesting to see what it al looks like tomorrow. I’m torn as to whether I should bring in that beautiful single rosebud to protect it, or see what happens if I leave it.

Sunday Feature: More Fall Scenes from Michigan

Here’s some more scenes from fall in Michigan…

Turkey Tail Fungi (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey tail fungi







Wooly Bear-mild or harsh winter?Wooly Bear







Meadowhawk DragonfliesMeadowhawk Dragonflies
 Black-Eyed SusanBlack-Eyed Susan


Manistee River



photos by Peggy

Sunday Feature: Fall is Coming to Michigan

Fall is coming to Michigan.  Enjoy the colors!










photos by Peggy