Berried Treasures for the Garden
Apologies for the corny title but there is really nothing buried about these berried treasures! This month they are at their very best in the garden!
There’s no shortage of good trees and shrubs with showy fruits. I’d like to draw attention to less common berried treasures that you might consider adding to your patch as well as the common contenders.
There’s nothing wrong with filling your garden with Rowan, Pyracantha and Cotoneaster. They produce really showy berries and are easy enough to grow. But how about extending that colour range a bit beyond red, orange and yellow?
Blue berried treasures
What about blue coloured berries for instance? No really, there are plants that produce blue berries! Think Mahonia for instance and the odd thing about them is just as soon as the berries are ripe, the blackbirds feast on them! The peculiar thing is I’m told that slug and snail pellets are blue because this is a colour that birds don’t find attractive. Clearly, my blackbirds don’t know that! But the showy blue Mahonia berries are long gone so to enjoy that coloured berry this month I give you the evergreen Viburnum! The low growing Viburnum davidii has steely blue berries but of course only on the plants that are female. For, just like a few other garden plants – think Skimmia, Pernettya and holly- there are male and there are female plants. To get berries you need both in the neighbourhood. The more commonly planted ‘Laurustinus’ [Viburnum tinus] has blue berries too but here you don’t need one of each sex. Incidentally, the compact variety Eve Price makes a very good container plant for small town gardens.
Mauve berried treasures
Mauve berries are also uncommon but right now you can find a very showy example on another hardy shrub. Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ has very showy bunches of deep lilac to mauve berries and often has excellent autumn leaf colour too!
Black berried treasures
Black coloured berries may not show up so well. But when they hang in large bunches and can be used to make wine, chutney or mixed with apples to make pies, they have just got to be worth a second look! I’m thinking of course of elderberries but in particular the more decorative dark leaf ‘Black Lace’ form. If you don’t have space for this fast growing small tree then some Hypericum shrubs will give you black berries instead.
Pink berried treasures
How about pink berries? Well there are several rowans that have pink fruits and they, and the white berry forms, need a bit of careful thought as to where you plant them in the garden. The trouble with these pale colours I find is that against an often grey sky in winter they just disappear. Plant them with a dark evergreen background- such as a conifer hedge- for best appreciation. But spindle trees are frequently overlooked as small native garden trees [ see main title image]. These have bright shocking pink seed capsules that open to reveal a strong orange berry inside. The form ‘Red Cascade’ is definitely the one to plant and it also has very good autumn leaf colour.
White berried treasures
I’ve already mentioned the white berries that some rowan trees produce and of course there are those of the snowberry bush too.
With snowberry, I’d advise caution as it really is more a contender for a hedge or for the wild garden. It is a sucker producing spreader and could be a nuisance in the border.
Some of the heather related and evergreen Pernettya plants will produce large white berries as will a few Skimmia. But with both of these you will need to plant a male plant as well as the female in order to get fruits.
There are many more examples of berried treasures and if I haven’t convinced you to try a few of the less common colours, I do hope that you will find space on your plot for the more conventional coloured ones!
After all, it is hard to fault the berry colour of a Pyracantha, crab apple, rowan or Cotoneaster and this is the very best time of year to plant any of these berried treasures! Read here to find out why.
Skimmia is one of those common and easy plants that produces berries – read about them here.
If you’ve room for trees in your garden then you may care to read this blog about those with great autumn leaf colour.