Fantastic Fall

Hi River Roaders,

Fall officially begins on September 20, but meteorologists and naturalists view September 1 as the start of fall. At the risk of being accused of alliterative abuse, let’s take a look at some flyers, fruits, and flowers of fall.

A pearl crescent butterfly nectaring on blue mistflower.

I was really excited to find a number of monarch butterfly caterpillars on the swamp milkweed in the new pollinator garden by the sculpture outside the sanctuary, but I was unable to find them the next day. I read that these caterpillars have a number of predators, including birds, ants, and some wasps, and that no more than 10% (more likely 2%) of monarch eggs survive to become adults.

A small skipper nectaring on Virginia spiderwort.

The common silver spotted skipper nectaring on blue mistflower.

Shifting to fruits, here is our grove of paw paw trees in Springsview Garden. I found one small fruit on the ground yesterday. Hopefully there is more hidden up in the leaves.

We have several ground cherry plants growing above the retaining wall by the Memorial Garden. Their fruit is a berry wrapped in a paper sheath. This is in the same family as the tomatillo used in Mexican cooking and salsas.

We have several grape vines growing up the trees facing River Road. These native vines provide a valuable food source for birds and other animals. The leaves can look similar to the invasive porcelain berry. Our native grapes have flaky bark with a dark pith, while porcelain berry has smoother bark with a white pith.

The non-native crepe myrtle trees at the side of our building provide great color in later summer and early fall.

We have pink and red flowered crepe myrtles.

The sunflowers that Walter planted in the vegetable garden did really well this year!

During the month of September, the Grounds Committee will be conducting tours of our native plant gardens after each Sunday service. Tours will depart from the front plaza. I hope you can join us.