Fall is in the air with the first frost on the grounds on Wednesday morning, October 7, 2009. The frost was not universal so most tender plants were not nipped. Wednesday was a glorious day without a cloud in the sky until late afternoon.
The Chinese Pistache (Pistachia chinensis) in the nursery has turned a beautiful shade of red. This tree is on trial (two full years now) for the Heartland Harvest Garden as its new shoots are edible and used in China as a vegetable. This tree is well known for its outstanding fall color but is of marginal hardiness in Greater Kansas City. There are good trees from Wichita, Kansas southward. Trees as far south as Tulsa have been killed by past severe winters. Does anyone know of a large, established tree in the Kansas City region? Despite being sold at many stores and nurseries we know of no local, established trees.
Possumhaw a.k.a. Deciduous Holly (Ilex decidua) berries have now ripened and are a brilliant red. Possumhaw berries are showiest after its leaves drop and often hang on the small tree and remain colorful into mid-winter or beyond. I find it one of our most outstanding fall and winter ornamentals. Look for groves of this plant off to the right side of the gatehouse when you enter Powell Gardens. I wrote a plant profile article about this plant that should be in the November issue of The Kansas City Gardener.
Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum and hybrids) are turning wild shades of red. The cultivar ‘Jersey’ is depicted but look for 27 varieties on display in the Heartland Harvest Garden. Be sure and come visit while they are in bloom next spring and certainly don’t miss tasting their abundant blue berries on a visit next summer.