An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

October 14, 2010

Bloom Day - Shenandoah National Park

Though I do have blooms in the garden, there is little to show for October that hasn't already been shown in September or August. The temperatures and humidity may have moderated, and some of the trees are just now starting to bronze, but it is basically still summer here. So I am stretching the rules for this month's Bloom Day and will show some of what I saw last weekend in Shenandoah National Park - where it was indeed fall.

The campground where we ended up staying was nearly overrun with two plants, Clematis virginiana with its showy seedheads and...


... Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus).

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

There were several varieties of Aster still blooming though I am not entirely positive which species they are. Perhaps this one is Heath Aster (Aster ericoides).

Asters, Bee and Sumac

There were still a few Thistles in bloom.


Common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) was just comming into bloom.

Hamamelis virginiana

The Coralberry was not the only fruit showing color. The Hawthorns (Crataegus) and...


... American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) were adding lots of color to the park.

Celastrus scandens

The seed pods of Purple Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) were popping out everywhere to ensure next summer's blooms,

Milkweed Seeds

and I was not the only creature enjoying them.

Milkweed Feeders

I will continue sharing our trip through the park in the next few posts, but if you would like to see what other gardeners are sharing at this time of year, please visit Carol at May Dreams Garden who graciously hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of each month.


  1. The coralberry is so pretty! I was only introduced to it when at a store I saw it all growing in hollies. Of course I picked some berries for decorations. That witch hazel-wow! My virginiana has never bloomed:( Its days might be numbered. I love the Shenandoah Valley.

  2. Les, I love the witchhazel blooms against the October sky! Mine are not ready to bloom, but they are a treat when they do~Finally, October has cooled and the native asters are showing their glory. How can I tell if I have the native sweet autumn clemmie and not the invasive? gail

  3. Your post are always amazing!! L

  4. Great photos! Must have been a perfect camping trip!

  5. Those milkweed photos are marvelous. It's a great plant and you've beautifully captured it.

  6. You have very beautiful images. Very unique shots too. Love you park tour. I have been following.

  7. Nice! I love, love, love clematis seedheads! The milk week seeds are also a favorite!

  8. Ah glad to know I wasn't the only gardener facing a repeat of last month come this bloomday. I like your way around it...and those milkweed photos are crazy! Thanks Les.

  9. It's definitely fall here. We've had a hard freeze. Witch hazels are blooming in our woods.

  10. Love those thistles (wow, they pop!) and the clematis and milkweeds. Nice shots.

  11. The flowers and berries are gorgeous but that blue sky steals the show. Great pics as always.

  12. The Coralberry is lovely, and the Witch Hazel against the bright blue sky amazing. The Milkweed pods here are covered with those same beetles, but they don't seem to slow down seed production.

  13. What a joy yo study your plants and insects.
    Rather different than my life here!
    greetings from the concrete jungle
    with a few leaves thrown in!

  14. Dear Les, Your photographs are amazing! I think my favorite is of the thistles - they jumped out at me! Obviously Shenandoah is a park worth visiting. Thanks for taking us there. Pam

  15. Was out this morning poking around and noticed (even after several pretty good frosts here) that the swamp milkweed was covered with aphids. Leaves nearly all gone. Seedheads blowing seeds all around. I'd never noticed before.

  16. Tina,
    I had never heard of the Coralberry until a few years ago when a customer asked me to get a couple. So I did and thought this was an unremarkable plant, until I saw just how long the berries lasted.

    I had never seen so many witchhazels in the wild before, it was a real treat. I think all of the Sweet Autumns are thugs.

    Thank you very much!

    It was only nearly perfect. There were some people camping near us whose little girls whined and complained (loudly) for two out of three days.

    Thank you, they were fairly easy to photograph and certainly aboundant.

    Thank you for the comment, for following, and I am glad you liked the tour, stay tuned.

    Sometimes I think I like the seedheads on the clematis better than the flowers.

    That's me, always looking for a way out or around an obstacle. One day I will have to face them head on.

    Please keep it up your way. I am not ready.

    I think these were the only two still blooming in a sea of dead heads.

    Yes the sky was crystal clear and at night the stars were endless. you could even see the Milky Way.

    I am not sure, but I think the insects are some type of Boxelder Bug.

    Thank you for stopping by. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

    Thanks for coming across the pond for my GBBD post, and thanks for your kind comments.

    The milkweed seems to be a vital piece of the wildlife food puzzle.


  17. Do love the Coralberry. Great pics. I can't believe the Witchhazel is coming into bloom it early or is it me?

  18. Janet,
    This is the right time for Hamamelis virginiana to be blooming. Perhaps you are thinking of H. vernalis which blooms in late winter.

    Sorry I implied you were in England. I had forgotten you were in PA.


  19. Beautiful photography Les! How wonderful to be camping with your son in such a magnificent park. I love your milkweed shots and the one with the beetles could be here in my garden. I guess both could. ;>)