I’ve been out shooting blueberries today. No, no… I’m not utterly bonkers, not quite yet. I’ve been taking pictures, of the leaves.
In general, our leaf color is past its best but amongst the bare branches and under the dark brown oak leaves there are a few colorful standouts, mainly maples. And all through the under story of the woods here, the high bush blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, are still in color. As the clouds part, they’re like flickers of fire.
One noticeable feature is how much they vary. The leaves of many are red, sometimes with purplish overtones, while others are orange or yellow. But some plants have already lost every leaf while others, and not only those in shadier places in the woods, remain green. Jennifer Trehane’s comprehensive book on blueberries (see below) reveals that named forms grown for their fruit also vary in their fall coloring. I also noticed that where one red leaf is laying on another, the covered area remains yellow.
Of course one crucial influence on the display is the deer. Here, the lowest 4-5ft/1.2-1.5m of every bush outside the fence is stripped bare leaving a sort of mound of foliage at the top which is just out of reach. You can see the bare stems in the picture above. Though when the plants are in fruit, we’ve sometimes seen a black bear standing on its hind legs pulling the branches down so it can eat the fruit. (Sorry, the camera is never to hand. One of these days…)
Other highlights apart from the maples, of which more in a day or two, include not-sure-which forsythia (soft yellow), Syringa x meyeri ‘Palibin’ (pale yellow), a weeping cherry (yellow and green, still), the superb Solomon’s seal that was variegated earlier in the season, Polygonatum odoratum var. plurifolium ‘Variegatum’, (biscuit yellow), two eupatoriums (yellow) and some surprisingly dashing hostas in bright butter yellow to biscuit brown. Even one of the rhododendrons is covered in scarlet sparks.
Few flowers remain, but there’s still plenty of color.
British and Irish readers can buy Jennifer Trehane's book Blueberries, Cranberries and Other Vacciniums from amazon.co.uk.
North American and other readers can buy Jennifer Trehane's book Blueberries, Cranberries and Other Vacciniums from amazon.com.