Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Berry Delicious

Plants with berries, fruit or coloured seeds can add blasts of sensational colour and interest to an autumn/winter garden; here’s a small selection.

 Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion'

Love it or hate it, this shrub (in my humble opinion) is a great addition to an autumn/winter border, It looks sensational combined with a showy white mop head Hydranger too. 
If you are looking for something different, and out-of-the-ordinary, this is the plant for you; its unusual purple-violet berries, look a tad artificial, as if a mad crafter has snuck into your garden overnight and glue-gunned, nail varnish painted, purple polystyrene balls to one of your plants! 
I love its iridescent quirky attributes, which always bring a smile to my face and cheer me up on a cold autumn 

 Cotoneaster horizontalis

This ‘tough as old boots’, common-or-garden shrub should not be overlooked; It will grow almost anywhere and seedlings will appear in the smallest of cracks and crevices often deposited around the garden by birds.
Its wonderful self supporting arched branches, carry berries both along the main stem and its fish bone spurs. This architectural plant has a clean and defined open structure, which makes it so perfect for planting against walls.
In spring small insignificant pinkish flowers are borne which are irresistible to bees. These are followed by berries which ripen to a rich, primary red.
The small leaves will eventually fall off in winter, leaving berry studded branches which are a feast for the birds.

Berberis (species unknown)

This showy Berberis is a 1930’s species, yet to be identified and I spotted it, (well you could hardly miss it!), in the tiered garden at the National Trust’s Upton House near Banbury. This plant’s firework-like display looks like panicles of deep pink flowers from a distance. However, on closer inspection the branches are tightly packed with clusters of small, perfectly formed pink shiny berries, spirally twisting around each stem. This show stopping plant would hold its own in any garden.
(if anyone can identify this plant call Upton House direct 01295670266 they will be so pleased to hear from you).
Other Berberis to consider;
Berberis wilsoniae—coral pink berries
Berberis verruculosa - Black berries

 Aurum italicum

This plant is ideal for under planting in a shady area. Its attractive veined, spear-shaped leaves that appear in winter, act as brilliant ground cover when other plants have died back. In summer it has exotic looking white hooded spathe with a pencil like yellow spadix, rising up from its throat. The flower is then followed by its piece de resistance in autumn; Groups of upright stems appear with orange berry studded heads, looking to my mind a bit alien lolly pops (not to be eaten as they are poisonous).

Viburnum opulus

This indigenous shrub is great value as it has interest throughout the year; white flowers in early summer, followed by lovely hanging clusters of berries These ripen from pale green through soft subtle oranges, arriving at the most magnificent, luscious lipstick-reds in autumn. As an added bonus its leaves also have purple tinged autumn colour.

Right now the berries look like shiny red Skittle sweets, looking tempting enough to eat, sadly they are inedible raw and slightly toxic. However, according to a notice I spied at Winterbourne gardens, they can be cooked to make a jelly, as a substitute for cranberries (hence one of its common names is the European cranberry bush). I will have to experiment and get the old maslin pan out!
For smaller gardens you may wish to opt for Viburnum opulus 'Compactum' .

Others to consider...


Here are two lovely example ofroses that bear hips; 
Rosa ‘Madame Pierre Oger’ and Rosa rugosa

Sorbus Cashmiriana

A small tree with hanging bunches of white berries.

Spindle Tree - Euonymus europaeus 

This shrub has the most stunning seed heads of bright pink and orange.

So think on...

If you want to get colour and interest into your garden this autumn and winter, don’t just think of foliage colour but also think berry colour. You will be surprised at the variety and you definitely won’t be disappointed!

Author Melanie Smith - Gardenplan Design 

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