On Saturday, the number of cardinals harvesting berries from the dogwood (Cornus florida, below) makes clear that the red berries are finally ripe. On this breezy afternoon branches sway and shake with birds swooping in for a meal, then moving on to the safety of taller, neighboring trees. By Sunday morning, berries are gone, and cardinals have moved on.
Leaves have turned color only slightly, and in this unusual autumn it appears that dogwoods and perhaps swamp red maples (Acer rubrum) will drop leaves without any significant changing of colors. Several Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are most dependable in this garden for autumn foliage colors, but these have barely turned, and only the hybrid witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia, below) have colored enough to notice. Unfortunately, the witch hazel leaves are also streaked with brown from the late summer drought.
Berries of native and Asian beautyberries are not as abundant as in most years, with the exception of the vigorous white berried Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Albifructus’ (below) that flourishes in swampy ground. White berries on the variegated beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma f. albifructa ‘Duet’) are more sparse than usual, and at its best it produces limited numbers. Berries are slow to ripen on all beautyberries, which often persist into early winter.