As leaves fall from the trees and shrubs, the wild grape vines that weave through them are becoming more visible. This is especially so as they turn bright lemon yellow. Shown here in a shady area with what I think is chokeberry that still retains most of its green leaves.
Just two months ago, the wild grapes growing near the millpond were tiny buttons. Now they are almost mature. There’s no chance they will be turned into wine. The birds and raccoons will soon strip them from the vines.
Normally, the wild grapes I see near the millpond are a sorry lot. They don’t grow in large clusters. There are usually just a few along each vine. But this plant has done exceptionally well and the grapes look full and delicious. Too bad this wild stock isn’t growing near one of Michigan’s Wineries. It might hold a gene that could jazz up the commercial root stocks. Our state is the 8th largest producer of wine with more than 2,000 acres in production. At the 2010 Michigan Wine and Spirits Competition, 221 medals were awarded (PDF). Michigan is also receiving recognition at many national competitions.
Red and orange berries decorate many of the shrubs along the Brighton millpond pathway now. Although I’m not sure of the names of the plants, I think both are fruit on different species of honeysuckle. They look delicious but they are mildly poisonous so all we can do is admire their beauty. Surely some of the birds have developed a tolerance for these berries so the seeds are effectively scattered across the land.
The large light green leaf in the top image is from an invading wild grape vine. Wild grapes and Virginia Creeper vines thread through the honeysuckle branches seeking to steal the sunlight. The vines may appear to be friendly neighbors now, but if they blanket the honeysuckle, it won’t get enough sunlight to survive. We think of plants as wonderful things to have around, but they are all in a battle to survive and dominate their territories just like prides of lions. Without the roar.
Evenly spaced young leaves parade along the arc of a wild grape branch decorated with a few cobwebs. A lacy-leaved neighbor is the only competitor for this air space at the edge of the millpond. Two oak leaves from last year punctuate this tableau, one joins the parade caught in a grape tendril near the arc’s center while the other acts as a counterweight at the end of the sweep. Viewed together, every element within this delicate composition seems in proper balance. See the larger image for the glorious details.