Berries and Fruits for the Garden
Like foliage and coloured-stemmed trees and shrubs, the plants noted for their colourful autumn berries and fruits are invaluable for their contribution to’s living framework. Berrying and fruiting trees often make beautiful lawn specimens, while berrying shrubs are ideal for mixed or shrub borders, associating particularly well with others noted for autumn leaf colour, and with such autumn flowers as Michaelmas daisies or asters, dahlias and chrysanthemums.
One of the great problems with berrying trees and shrubs is their attractiveness to birds. They will strip the berries from some shrubs and trees even before they are fully ripe, especially in country gardens. Wherever possible I have selected plants which the birds leave alone, but to make a representative list I have had to include some which are likely to provide bird food instead of garden colour in some areas. Many of the sorbus or mountain ashes, cotoneasters and pyracanthas are particularly prone to birds.
Some of the plants described here are climbers, which will add interest to walls and fences, or could be trained up quite large trees.
Berries and fruits come in a wide range of colours – so I have split my selection into colour groups for easy reference.
A small tree, popularly known as the Killarneytree, with white flowers and reddish orange strawberry-like fruits. This tree’s bark is a rich, reddish brown.
Medium-sized ever-green shrub with red berries. Plant male and female forms to obtain berries. ‘Salicifolia’ is a good female form for berries, and ‘Crotonifolia’ an attractive male form that has gold-speckled leaves.
There are many barberry hybrids with attractive berries, making small to medium-sized shrubs. Select from ‘Barbarossa’, ‘Bountiful’, ‘Buccaneer’, ‘Pirate King’ and B. x rubrostilla.
A vigorous climber which has red and yellow seed heads in autumn. Plant male and female forms, or a hermaphrodite form for berries. Good clear yellow autumn leaf colour. Cotoneaster Many to choose from here, including C. bullatus floribundus (medium shrub), C. conspicuus ‘Decorus’ (dwarf shrub), ‘Coral Beauty’ (dwarf shrub), ‘Cornubia’, C. frigidus (large shrub), C. horizontalis (prostrate shrub), ‘Hyb-ridus Pendulas’ (generally grown as a standard, when it weeps), C. microphyllus (dwarf shrub), C. salicifolius ‘Autumn Fire’ (small shrub), C. salicifolius ‘Parkteppich’ (dwarf shrub), C. salicifolius ‘Repens’ (dwarf shrub), C. simonsii (medium shrub), ‘Skogholm’ (dwarf shrub), and C. splendens ‘Sabrina’ (medium shrub). The dwarf kinds make excellent ground cover.
‘Red Cascade’ A variety of the spindle, a medium-sized shrub with masses of red fruits in the autumn, and brilliant autumn leaf colour.
‘J.C. Van Tol’ There are lots of hollies to choose from but this variety is very free fruiting. It’s a large evergreen shrub.
A dwarf evergreen shrub for acid soils. Many varieties, but highly recommended for its free-fruiting habit is ‘Bell’s Seedling’ with large deep red berries. It’s hermaphrodite, so a single plant will produce berries.
A medium-sized species ofwith large bottle-shaped fruits, following its crimson flowers. Variety ‘Geranium’ is popular, with larger fruits.
Small or dwarf evergreen shrubs. If you grow S. japonica varieties you will need male and female plants for berries, such as ‘Foremanii’ (female) and ‘Fragrans’ (male). S. reeuesiana is hermaphrodite so only one plant is needed for berries.
A large evergreen shrub of vigorous habit, something like a cotoneaster. Masses of crimson fruits in large clusters.
Viburnum betuli folium
A large shrub with huge clusters of pendulous translucent red berries. Best to grow several plants in a group to ensure a good crop of berries.
A small tree with pendulous clusters of deep pink berries. The leaves turn red and purple in the autumn before they fall.
‘John Downie’ One of the ornamental crab apples, a small tree bearing heavy crops of edible, bright orange, red-flushed fruits.
The sea buckthorn, a medium-sized shrub, the females of which produce masses of orange berries which last all winter. Plant in groups of males and females to ensure berries.
There are many firethorns to choose from, all medium to large shrubs, such as P. coccinea ‘Lalandei’, ‘Mohave’, ‘Orange Charmer’, Orange Glow, and ‘Soleil d’Or’. Pyracanthas are very amenable to training on walls or fences and can also be used as, but the harder they are pruned the fewer berries will be produced.
Several cotoneasters have yellow berries, such as ‘Exburiensis’ (large shrub), ‘Pink Champagne’ (large shrub, berries become pink tinged later), and ‘Rothschildianus’ (a large shrub with cream-yellow berries).
‘Bacciflava’ The yellow-fruited holly, a large evergreen shrub with masses of bright yellow berries. Another good yellow-berried holly is I. a. ‘Pyramidalis Fructuluteo’, a medium-sized tree with bright yellow berries.
There are a few yellow-berried firethorns, such as ‘Buttercup’ (a medium-sized shrub, and P. rogersiana ‘Flava’ (a large shrub). Sorbus aucuparia ‘Xanthocarpa’ Yellow-berried form of the mountain ash, a most attractive small tree.
A small tree with pendulous clusters of white berries, often lightly tinted with pink. These last well into the winter.
The ever-popular snowberry, a medium-sized shrub which forms dense thickets of growth. Large round brilliant white berries are produced in autumn.
Callicarpa bodinieri giraldii
A medium-sized shrub which freely produces dark lilac berries if several plants are set in a group. A fairly recent introduction is C. b. ‘Profusion’, with purple-blue berries, very freely produced.
A medium-sized evergreen shrub that is a good choice for acid soils, and has large deep purple berries.
A popular hardy grape vine with purple-black edible fruits in autumn, and reasonably good autumn leaf colour.