Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Posted By: in Winter Gardens

There is just something about plants with bright beautiful berries in the fall that I absolutely love! Perhaps it is their optimistic splash of colour a beacon though the drab of winter. Here are my top picks to brighten your season:

winter green

Winter Green

Gaultheria procumbens

I am in love with this evergreen groundcover. It is beautiful actually at any time of year with little white bell flowers in the spring and often summer, followed by red berries which look lovely for a very long time. When you crush the leaves and berries it gives off that unmistakeable fragrance of wintergreen! It is a very low grower forming a little mound about 4-5 inches in height and about 6 inches wide…eventually spreading in width, but very, very slowly. It prefers a shady or dappled shade spot in acid soil. It is a great plant to add colour and interest to a planter. In the winter and fall it can be in a full sun spot and you can just pull it out of your planter and plunk it in a nice loamy spot in the spring!

lingon berry

LingonBerry

Vaccinium vitis-ideae

Another lovely that I have in a pot by the front door. It is a far better smelling alternative to the little boxwood I had earlier. I was actually blaming my old cat when upon closer inspection I determined it was the boxwood flower itself producing that nasty cat pee fragrance. Lingonberry is a glossy low growing evergreen that produces red edible berries high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Very similar to cranberry in health benefits. It can grow in part or mostly shade but will produce few berries. In a sunny spot not only is it tasty, but it is very pretty and so it graces my front step. It is a tough little plant, hardy to zone 3. Acidic, loamy soil is best for this charmer. Depending on the variety it grows between 4 and 16 inches in height, slowly spreading (though faster than wintergreen) through underground stems.

willow leaved cotoneaster

Willow Leaved Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster salicifolius

This is an attractive understory or sprawler of a plant which is very under or improperly utilized. I have seen this poor plant pruned to a square believe it or not. Allowed to maintain its natural form, it has graceful arching branches to about 15 feet by 15 feet with slender quilted deep green leaves which turn a rich burgundy in winter and remain on the shrub/tree. The clusters of bright red berries are highly decorative and are sought after by florists. Hardy to zone 6.

Gray Leaved Cotoneaster

Gray Leaved Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster glaucophyllus

The silvery gray green tiny leaves and the copious red berries all along the branchlets make for a really eyecatching shrub. A stunning companion to back the large glossy burgundy leaves of bergenia for starters. This evergreen shrub cotoneaster can tolerate a wide range of soils but grows best in well drained moderately humic soil in a sunny spot. It can grow to 3 feet high by about 5-6 feet wide if left to its own devices. It also looks lovely as cut branches against some deep green conifers in a pot. The tiny white flowers in spring are loved by honey bees. Hardy to zone 7.

Beauty Berry Shrub

Beauty Berry

Callicarpa bodieneri

Oh, you knew it would be on my list…had to keep you wondering for a few though. This has been one of the best years for berries on my plant. Callicarpa produces stunning metallic purple clusters of berries in fall. These berries will last into January when Mother Nature is obliging. I also use them as cut stems in my planters and table decorations. Outside in the planters they last about 2-3 weeks. Inside, much less. These shrubs also have lovely clusters of fuzzy purple flowers in summer that smell like Hawaiian lei’s. Mmmmmm. The Fall colour is yellow and they grow to about 8 feet by about 4-5 feet wide and prefer a sunny spot in well drained humic soil. Hardy to zone 5.

Deciduous Holly

Deciduous Holly

Ilex verticillata

A gorgeous deciduous holly without the spikey leaves! In the summer a lovely background shrub with fresh green leaves and small white flowers. After the leaves turn golden and drop in the fall the magic is revealed. Bright scarlet red berries or sunny gold berries depending on the variety all along the stem. These branches always find their way front and center in my pots. I do love the evergreen holly but these are an elegant cut centrepiece! A well drained soil in sun to part shade (the more sun, the more berries). Can grow to 15 feet by 15 feet, though with the winter trimming I do for my planters and displays, mine is much less. Hardy to zone 3.

snowberry

Snowberry

Symphoricarpos 'Charming Fantasy'

While wandering the nursery I chanced upon the lovely and delicate Snowberry. I do love their clusters of white berries bourne on slender branchlets…but what did I spy a few spots over??? A snowberry with clusters of baby girl pink berries. I am so going to use these in a display!! This small naturalizing deciduous shrub grows to about 4 feet in height and about 5-6 wide if allowed room. Trim in the winter after the berries have started to fade. Snowberry prefers a sunny to part shade position in average humic soil. Keep away from small children though, berries are poisonous.

japanese skimmia

Japanese Skimmia

Skimmia japonica

This is a lovely evergreen shrub for a shady position. Not only does it bloom in clusters of white and pinky white flowers with an AMAZING fragrance but the female shrubs produce bright red berries in clusters when there is a male in the area. Mmm hmmm. Hanky panky! In the garden this is a GOOD thing!! Skimma prefer well drained humic and slightly acidic soil in a shade to afternoon shade position. A stunning companion to ghost ferns and hardy cyclamen and a great pain free substitute for holly in arrangements. Depending on varieties, Skimmia can grow to about 3-4 feet by about 3-4 feet. Hard to believe there are some varieties that can grow to about 40 feet in their native Japan. Hardy to zone 7.

pyracantha

Mohave Firethorn

Pyracantha 'Mohave'

This tough customer is a reliable producer of huge clusters of bright orange, gold or orange red berries depending on the variety. Evergreen, spikey shrub can be grown against a wall or as a stand alone shrub in full hot sun in average well drained soil. The white flowers in spring are prolific, scented and a favorite of honey bees. The berries last well into winter and are also food for birds. This shrub can grow to 8-10 feet by about 8 feet if space is available, however it can be trimmed much smaller.

honey maid holly

Honey Maid Holly

ilex x 'Honey Maid'

This slow growing variegated evergreen holly is a lovely small addition to the garden. The glossy blue green leaves are delicately edged with cream. The bright red berries are a lovely contrast. This evergreen shrub prefers full sun to part shade with moist, well draining, humic soil. The cream edging will draw the eye so if a focal point is needed in the garden this shrub would really pop against a deep green conifer like a Yew.

As Always, please call ahead to confirm availability as our selection is always changing.

Enjoy, take care and happy gardening!

Laurelle
Laurelle Olfdord-Down

Laurelle Olfdord-Down

Laurelle is a certified horticulturalist and Landscape designer. She is currently an up and coming apple guru, growing over 120 cultivars which explains her passion for edible garden design. Laurelle works part time for Art’s Nursery. You can also interact with her through Art’s monthly newsletter, our blog and our gardening channel on YouTube.


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