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Autumn Blackberry Foliage

Autumn glories

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JUSTIN RUSSELL is stopped in his tracks by the autumn foliage of some undervalued edible plants.

Deciduous trees hog the attention at this time of year, making it easy to forget that autumn reveals her glories by means both bold, and subtle. This morning I nearly ran off the road after catching a glimpse of a persimmon tree in someone’s backyard. The colours were the best I’ve ever seen – a brilliant shade of orange brighter than a tradie’s safety vest. In the same street, a claret red liquidambar was radiating warmth against an autumn blue sky.


But while watering my vegie garden after returning home, I was struck by the colour on two smaller, less conspicuous, but no less beautiful plants than the persimmon and liquidambar. A hedge of blueberries planted along a boundary is screaming with look-at-me shades of red, while some Waldo blackberries growing on the fence are just starting to blush purple, and will soon turn crimson. Both are productive, and they rival the fanciest ornamental plants for deciduous colour.


The inspiration for my garden comes from a line by the late American conservationist John Muir, who said “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread”. I’ve reinterpreted that in gardening terms to mean “let’s grow plants that feed the body and the soul” – plants that look beautiful but are useful beyond mere good looks. Or, plants that are productive, but grown in beautiful ways, such as espalier.


Regardless of where you live in Australia, autumn is a wonderful time of the year. But if you’ve chosen to live in a temperate zone, it’s heaven on earth. Enjoy the season’s grand finale where ever you are OG’ers by getting outside and making the most of what’s on offer.