Tag Archives: purple beautyberry

Last Remnants of a Gorgeous Fall

This has been quite an unusual fall for many of us.  Seems like the winter was in no hurry to arrive, so we’ve been treated to one of the warmest and longest falls in a long time.  With that, many trees are still showing colors and many plants in my garden are still going strong.  All this is going to come to a screeching halt tonight as we drop from almost 70 this morning to the 30’s overnight.  Yikes!

Until then, here’s  some of what’s still been going strong in my garden.

Tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, hot and sweet peppers and hardy herbs are still there for the picking.

stephi gardens


hot peppers


Even the heat loving zinnias are still hanging in there!  Their colors are blending beautifully with the fall garden colors.  I think after today, I’ll be dead heading them for next year (Fall Seed Gathering Means Beautiful Summer Zinnias).  If you look closely behind the zinnias, you can see the fall garlic shoots indicating next year’s garlic harvest.


Despite the abundance of fallen leaves, the geraniums aren’t looking like they’re ready to be done anytime soon.


The cosmos are still blooming strong.  But, the hydrangeas behind them are ready to add winter interest to the garden.


The Victoria Blue Salvia is in the same bed as the cosmo.  Usually this area is all salvia, but due to a mix up (well my mix up) when I ordered the annuals from a local plant sale, I didn’t actually buy any this year.  These are self seeded from last year and added a nice splash of purple to the pink of the cosmo.


While the Purple Beautyberry bush (Callicarpa x NCCX1) is expected to look great this time of year, I thought I’d add it since it’s a fairly new shrub and thankfully doing great!  I can’t get enough of those fall purple berries and each year I’ve had more.

purple beautyberry bush

How’s your garden been this fall?

Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2016!  I truly appreciate all who have visited my blog this year.  Here’s a look back at some of my most popular posts of 2015!  

Tomato Florida Weave

1.   Taming My Tomatoes With A Florida Weave:  My tomatoes were a mess, so I tried something new to try and keep things in order.



Blue Jay

2.    The Blue Jays are Back (and That’s Not a Good Thing):  What to do when you have nuisance birds at your feeder?




Garlic3.  Warding Off The Vampires:  This was my first try at growing garlic.  Easier than I thought and definitely worth the effort.




Multi stemmed Freeman Maple Autumn Blaze4.  So Long Beautiful Maple Tree:  Sometimes things go terribly wrong with plant.  In this case, construction and cold brought about the demise of our beautiful Freeman Maple



IMG_38415.  November in Chicago:  This fall was quite an unusual one.  Here in Chicago, the plants were quite confused as to the time of year and it made for an interesting fall.



clematis wilt6.  Something’s Wrong With the Clematis and Clematis Stem Wilt: An Update to Something’s Wrong With The Clematis:  The wet spring affected a lot of plants.  Many of us saw some terrible die back of our clematis due to Clematis Stem Wilt.  Hopefully next spring everything will rebound.


westie7.  Little White Pepper Thief:  Apparently Westies love peppers.  I didn’t get any sweet or hot peppers from my garden this year because of my little thief 🙁



rabbit nest8.  Spring Surprises:  Even when you think you know everything in your garden, you get surprised!




Callicarpa9.  Beautyberry Bushes:  Did They Survive the Winter?  After a winter like we had, I thought I had lost my new bushes.  But, they are one of the last to leaf out in the spring, so I’m glad I was patient.  



IMG_349510.  Fall in Northern Michigan/Stumbling Upon Club-Mosses:  This was one of my favorite posts of the year.  Not only was fall in Northern Michigan stunning, my mom and I stumbled onto a forest area full of a club mosses.   Very cool to see and explore.


..and a few of my all-time most popular posts:

Curled Leaves On The Bushes (August 2014)

Creeping Thyme Problems (April 2014) and an update in August, Oops, September Garden Update 

Painting Rock Garden Markers (February 2014)

Pelicans In Illinois (September 2013)

Our Family Christmas Tree (December 2013)

Hope you keep visiting, I have all kinds of ideas to keep everyone in the gardening mood all winter.  

Remember, you can also find Stephi Gardens on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and  Twitter.


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?


Beautyberry Bushes–Did They Survive The Winter?


Last year, I wrote about buying three Purple Pearls Beautyberry Bushes (Callicarpa x NCCX1) at the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale.  I had seen them the fall before in the parking lot there and thought they were just stunning with all those amazing, unusual purple berries (see Purple Beautyberry Bush).  I had to plant them in my yard!

Beautyberry Bush

For a first year plant, they looked fine last fall and I was looking forward to even healthier, bigger shrubs this year.  Like many of us around the country, this was a tough winter and of course I worried about what would survive and what wouldn’t.  So as everything awakened from winter, I was mostly happy to see things leafing out and looking healthy.

But not the Beautyberry Bushes.  By late April, they looked like nothing more than 3 dead sticks when everything else was already leafing out.


But, it just didn’t seem like they were dead.  The branches had some spring to them and if I scraped a small piece of bark it seemed fleshly underneath.


But they really looked dead.  I was worried, but not ready to yank them out yet.

One of the great services that the Morton Arboretum provides is a free plant clinic where you can call or bring in a specimen and they can try to help you.  I finally got around to calling and spoke with the nicest women who happened to have them in her yard too.  She said hers looked just like mine and that they tend to leaf out a lot later than most shrubs.  The also regrow mostly from the base.  so I should be patient.

It had been a couple of days since I had looked at them, so now I was curious.  Lo and behold, little sprouts of green had just emerged!



They were alive!  Even now, 3 weeks later they are still way behind many of the other shrubs, but I can be patient.  At least they survived!





Visiting the Morton Arboretum Annual Plant Sale

Morton Arboretum Plant Sale

For me, the yearly Morton Arboretum Arbor Day Plant Sale is like sending a kid into a candy store. So many wonderful plants to pick from, some special ones that can be pre-ordered by members, and others that everyone can just go and select.  Many of my best plants have come from there.

Morton Arboretum Plant Sale

Back in early February, still in the throws of winter, comes the flyer detailing all the pre-purchase offerings.   That’s when I wish my yard was bigger so I could buy every tree, shrub and perennial in the booklet.  But, no, every year I buy less and less, since I have less and less room to plant.  I guess that’s a good thing, just not as much fun 🙁

On pick up day, coinciding with Illinois’ Arbor Day (the Arboretum’s signature holiday),  the Arboretum also has a huge tent full of other plants that come highly recommended that can be bought both by members and non-members.

Morton Arboretum Plant Sale


Morton Arboretum Plant Sale

I stopped there first, since this part is first come, first served and they often run out of varieties. What is tops on my list to find: a Purple Beautyberry Bush!  Ever since I saw them last year in the Arboretum parking lot (see Purple Beautyberry Bush post), I’ve been planning to look for them this spring.

Beautyberry Bush

Then I shopped for a bit more, finding some interesting perennials (Little Vision in Pink Astilbe,  Hosta Independence, Early Sunrise Tickseed), vegetables (tomatoes and peppers), herbs (basil, parsley, sage, mint), strawberries, and… Creeping Thyme.

Creeping Thyme


If you read my recent post on the problems I was having with my Creeping Thyme, I saw these and decided to add a few plants to try and help fill in the space a little quicker as the older plants recover from their inattention. It’s not exactly the same as what is there, but I think the varieties will look good together.

Then I went over to pick up my order,  which contained Peek-a-Blue Russian Sage, a Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink Butterfly Bush, Jeana Garden Phlox, and a Primal Scream Daylily.

Peek-a-Blue Russian Sage, Flutterby Petite Tutti Fruitti Pink Butterfly Bush, Jeana Garden Phlox, Primal Scream Daylily, Little Vision in Pink Astilbe, Hosta Independence, Early Sunrise Tickseed


Morton Arboretum Plant Sale


The shrubs I can plant right away (or at least as soon as it stops raining) and the other perennials and annuals I’ll wait for a couple of weeks. Mother’s Day weekend usually is the safe, no more freeze danger mark. Until then, the perennials will hang out outside in a shady spot and the rest I’ve moved into the screen room for a little more protection from the cold weather we’ve been having. Now I just need to remember to water them!

Do you have any local plant sales in your area?

Purple Beautyberry Bush

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the Morton Arboretum for the Glass Pumpkin Patch. In the parking lot, right next to the car was the most gorgeous bushes with brilliant purple berries on it.



Thankfully, the Arboretum does a great job in labeling everything, and I could find the tag telling me what it was.



Callicarpa dichotoma is a native of China, Japan and Korea and grows best on full sun-part shade in zones 5-8.  It seems to be pretty hardy, generally free of serious pests or diseases, and is a fairly small shrub growing full size to about 4 ft x 4 ft.  It has small unimpressive pinkish-lavender flowers that bloom in late summer, but the berries that ripen in September and October are quite dramatic. A favorite of the birds, it holds its berries well into winter.  It should heavily pruned down to about 12 inches in late winter or early spring to have the best berry production.

This shrub looks like an excellent and interesting choice to replace my half dead redtwig dogwoods.  My local nursery carries C. dichotoma “Issai” which seems quite similar to the variety at the Arboretum.  Might be a little late now, but I will check into it in the spring.  Have you seen this stunning shrub?