Pawpaws and Amphbians: Out My Back Door

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  I stepped out my back door on a balmy late summer Sunday, my, oh, my, what oh what did I see? No “giant doing cartwheels”, no “statue wearin' high heels”, no “tambourines and elephants playin’ in the band”, but yes a few “happy creatures dancing on the lawn”. “Doo, doo, doo”, what to see, “lookin’ out my back door?”


  1). Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) – see above image. Only last week I purchased and planted a new pawpaw seedling from Secrest Arboretum. I needed to since, even though our pawpaw tree bloomed for the past several years, and especially well this year, it is largely self-incompatible and needs a second plant from a different clone to produce fruit.


  Nevertheless, this year we did get one fruit. So, either the pollen beat the odds and delivered a sperm nucleus through the pollen tube and fertilized an egg in the ovule of its own self – or improbably, we got some stray pollen from a nearby tree. At any rate, as for the pawpaw fruit – it almost time to eat, if we get there before the backyard animals.


  2). Speaking of backyard animals: I spied a cool green amphibian on a sassafras leaf. I checked out the website, but am still not sure what species this be; whatever it is, the eye make-up is certainly dramatic.


A green amphibian friend on a sassafras leaf
I spy an amphibian


Frog or toad hopped to my hand
My warty friend hopped to my hand


Big-eyed amphibian
And glared at me with big-eyed wonder


  3). Fall color has begun, including the seasonal needle yellowing so evident on white pine in autumn, sweet birch gearing up for its cascades of yellow, the polished reds of sourgum, and the “everlasting vision of the everchanging view” hues of poison ivy, tans and burnt oranges in this case rather than bright scarlets and burgundies often seen.


seasonal needle yellowing on white pine
seasonal needle yellowing begins on white pine


sweet birch begins to yellow
sweet birch, Betula lenta, begins to yellow


fall color on sourgum
fall color on sourgum, Nyssa sylvatica


fall color on poison ivy
poison ivy can be beautiful


4). Hydrangeas are fading in many cases, but a Hydrangea macrophylla we planted in the side yard and a larger PeeGee Hydrangea paniculata we inherited when moving here over 30 years ago still have faded beauty in the ChatScape.


Hydrangea macrophylla bloom
Hydrangea macrophylla bloom fading to fall


PeeGee hydrangea bloom
PeeGee hydrangea blooms


  Want to learn more about hydrangea types and other woody trees and shrubs: come to the Selecting Trees and Shrubs for Landscaping school at Secrest Arboretum a week from Monday, on September 25 (registration fee). Registration information at:, or type in, scrolling down to the program, or contact Sarah Mays at


  It will be great learning, fun, and eating. Teachers will be Paul Snyder of Secrest Arboretum, Erik Draper of OSU, Geauga County, and Jim Chatfield of OSU Extension. While on the website, note the Bent Science Salon at Bent Ladder Cidery and Winery September 21, this Thursday night (no fee), the Why Trees Matter Forum at the College of Wooster on October 18 (registration fee), and the ArborEatum edible landscaping program at Secrest Arboretum on October 24 (no fee).


  5). Speaking of plant selection, Viburnum nudum, the witherod viburnum, becomes more glorious each day, with pink fruits turning to blue, and with fall foliar color thrown in for contrast. It is shown here from the Bent Science Cidery and Winery and Rittman Orchard.


Viburnum nudum fruits and foliage
Viburnum nudum fruits and foliage


viburnum nudum fruits and fall foliage
Viburnum nudum fruits and fall foliage color beginning


Bent Ladder Cidery and Winery
Bent Ladder Cidery and Winery near Rittman Ohio


  Finally, returning from the backyard and Bent Ladder down the way, “our house is a very, very, very fine house” with shadows of planthood on the walls.


plant shadows
Plant shadows in our "very very very fine house"