Photinia davidiana (David’s Christmas berry) is a tough evergreen plant that also has white flowers in early summer.
I last wrote about how hardscaping can make your garden in winter – and year round, for that matter. I still maintain that the hard landscape makes the biggest overall impact on the garden in winter, but there’s no denying plants pull their weight.
Take evergreens. They’re pros at this winter thing. Evergreen shrubs, trees and hedges can function like hardscaping in terms of their permanence and impact. They are architectural plants that will retain their form while the rest of the garden lies dormant. Ornamental grasses and plants with interesting seed heads are also popular additions to the winter landscape.
But when it comes to creating interest in the winter garden, you can’t beat berries. They provide food for birds, colour amidst the white – or gray, as the case may be – and joy to human visitors. Here are some of my favourites.
The berries of cute little Pernettya mucronata look like tiny strawberry bubblegum spheres. This low-growing shrub has fine, glossy evergreen leaves that take well to a shearing.
Although the berries of the Pacific Northwest native Snowberry (Caprifoliaceae Symphoricarpos albus) are considered toxic, they can be highly entertaining to children. I survived growing up with a yard full of them. Now Lila will have to, too, as I planted one in our backyard. (*Update*: Eleanor from Out of Doors, an ethnobotany student, has pointed me towards the Plants for a Future Database listing for snowberry, which indicates, “Although toxic, [saponins]
Berries………I just planted 500 Galanthus nivalis bulbs. Although the common snowdrop does not produce berries it sure lifts your mood at a time when the majority of the garden is at rest. Since we are off the topic…….let’s take the time to honour the sturdy seed heads of Dipsacus fullonum, or the ghost white stems of Rubus &$%&burni$@#!.
Great post Andrea!
I don’t have any berries in my ‘garden’ but some nice ones that we can see in our area are highbush cranberry, American mountain ash, partridgeberry, fanleaf hawthorn, and sometimes elderberry, juniper, and the odd Saskatoon.
I always love reading Heavy Petal. I’m a gardener from Michigan, I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of Potting Shed Creations LTD. I came across it in a magazine once, and thought that you might enjoy it. you can find the online store here http://store01.prostores.com/servlet/pottingshedcreations/Catalog
I especially love the tree’s to be. Good gardening, and God bless.
I love the Dr. Seuss like fruit on Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo). For some reason, I can’t bring myself to appreciate beautyberry. The color of the berries seems unnatural and I kind of think the shrub look like someone has glued Nerds candy all over the branches.
i love berries against bare branches in the late fall and winter, love the Pernettya mucronata, i need something smallish in my tiny space and they sound perfect, i’ll have to research if birds like them too!
Andrea Bellamy says
Christian – I love snowdrops, too. Always a welcome sign that winter won’t last forever.
Laurel – nice! Are most of those native to your area?
Shelby – thanks!
Willi – I know exactly what you mean. Maybe that’s why I picture beautyberry in a Willy Wonka-themed garden.
Cindy – yes! Me too. I’ve read mixed things about the Pernettya and whether birds like them. My mom (whose garden that photo was taken in) says she’s never noticed birds eating them.
I’m with you on the berries. Some of the best late winter garden entertainment is watching a flock of robins slurping down fermented cotoneaster or holly berries and then dropping stone cold drunk to the ground. I just don’t like it when they fly into windows!
And then of course there are the berries of Pyracantha, which the birds greedily help themselves too. That’s an enticing picture of Photinia, but by now, at the end of February, the leaves are blotchy and it is not such a pretty sight.