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In praise of parthenocissus

Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, is surely one of our finest native vines. Propagated by birds, it shows up almost everywhere, and is easily propagated deliberately from rooted ground sections. It is self-supporting, but much more benign to structures than other strong clinging vines like Campsis radicans (trumpetvine) or the climbing hydrangeas. It also offers possibly the best autumn coloration of any native plant except Toxicodendron radicans, which has certain human-compatibility issues.

Virginia creeper, when grown in good light, delivers a profusion of blue berries in the fall. In a year of abundant alternative food supplies, these will typically reach complete ripeness before being harvested in a one- or two-day sweep by birds like these yellow-shafted flickers

that arrived in a group of four

and stayed all day. The ruckus attracted larger cousins

and true-blue friends

leaving the vines bare but still beautiful by sundown.

Highly recommended as a natural enhancement for snags, stumps, living trees and constructions like this pergola, which also supports a deep-red Lonicera sempervirens (Alabama Crimson honeysuckle) to attract hummingbirds and a sweet autumn Clematic terniflora to attract people.

The immortal chestnut/2

(Please see earlier post.)

Many of the developing burrs are knocked off by wind and rain before maturing. But with fair weather and good fortune, a few complete development

and are released

to the forest floor, or into the waiting jaws of squirrels. In this case, the tree produced about 15 burrs, from all of which only three nuts seem large enough to be viable. Collected before dropping from the opened case—a window of only a day or so—these are now being stratified in an un-natural refrigerator in hope of germination next spring.

(Please see what comes next.)