Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beautiful Berries on Your Shrubs and Trees for the Fall and Winter Months

 Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM. Paul recently sent this article out called "Beautiful Berries on Your Shrubs and Trees for the Fall and Winter Months" (I occasionally add a few comments in italics) and here it is:
"Right now we are all enjoying the beautiful fall foliage but soon the magical colors will disappear and our garden will begin to look a bit drab! Unless...you planned ahead by planting shrubs and trees that not only flower but make beautiful fruit or berries for the fall and winter months. When most gardeners think of plants with berries, they think of holly--but there is so much more for your garden and there is no better time to learn about these berries than now when they are on the plants. Plants that make berries come in two categories, summer and winter types. Because it's fall, let me tell you about the winter types of berry plants for your garden.

The Awesome Winterberry--Great to Plant Now!

Let's begin with the wonderful trees that produce clusters of fruit in many colors and shapes to feed our birds during the fall and winter months. Yes, the berries are beautiful to look at, but their main purpose is to provide food for birds and wildlife during the winter months when most native plants are dormant or covered with snow. My favorite is the European Mountain Ash because of the wonderful white flower clusters in the spring and large clusters of bright orange fruit that develop during September.

I planted an 8 foot tall tree at my parents' house in the late 70's and today it's well over 40 feet tall. I would often watch the birds pick the berries from the tree around the Thanksgiving holiday. One Thanksgiving morning, my grandfather and I were having coffee and watching the birds from the kitchen table, when he told me this story about the Mountain Ash tree. My grandfather's name was Romeo Parent but everybody called him POP. I always called him "The Fisherman" because he loved nothing more than going fishing--and he often took me along. When I got older, it was my turn to take him fishing and we spent many wonderful hours together fishing--but let me tell you the story he told me about the Mountain Ash tree.

POP lived in the days of Prohibition, when beer and liquor were outlawed but POP and his friends used to pick the berries from the wild Mountain Ash trees growing in Maine to make homemade wine with them. Despite the law, almost everyone he knew made their own alcohol with wild berries and fruit like apples, pears, and peaches. POP told me that his favorite homemade wine was from the Mountain Ash tree and every time I see the Mountain Ash Tree I think of my Grandfather. If you're looking to plant trees with wonderful fruit go to your local nursery and ask to look at the following trees:
  • The Flowering Crabapple family: Not all varieties make fruit, so be sure to ask for ideas from the nurseryman and for his suggestions. Some of my favorites are.
  • Japanese Flowering Crabapple: with yellow to red fruit.
  • Tea Crabapple: with golden fruit with a red blotch.
  • Sargent Crabapple: with red fruit.
  • Donald Wyman: with glossy red fruit.
  • Harvest Gold: with glossy gold fruit.
  • Zumi: with golden yellow fruit.
  • Red Jade: red fruit
  • Weeping Candied Apple: with cherry red fruit.
  • Spring Flowering Dogwood: with jelly bean shaped red fruit.
  • Kousa Dogwood: with a raspberry shaped red fruit.
  • Magnolias: red to pink fruit in a pod that will break open to reveal the fruit.
  • Sourwood: white early, then turning to brown.
  • The Flowering Pear family: green to yellow.
  • The Hawthorn family: Glossy red to reddish purple fruit.
  • Red Cedar: powdery blue fruit.
  • Russian-Olive: silvery green fruit.
  • Autumn- Olive: burnt orange to red fruit.

If your yard has no room for trees, here are a few wonderfulshrubs with unique fruit for both evergreen and deciduous plants. Here are some evergreen plants with much to offer your garden.
  • Oregon Grape Holly: clusters of dusty bright blue fruit.
  • The Holly family: clusters of bright shiny red and some gold fruit.
  • The Skimmia family: clusters of bright red fruit.
  • The Ilex family: shiny black fruit.
  • The Cotoneaster family: bright red fruit.
  • The Evergreen Euonymus family: red to pink fruit that will break open and reveal orange seeds.
  • The Daphne family: red fruit.
  • The Inkberry family: dark blue to black fruit.
  • The Pyracantha family: My favorite shrub with bright orange to orange-red fruit clusters, and also yellow.

Here are some wonderful deciduous plants with wonderful fruit clusters. Fruit is showy with and without foliage on the plant. With snow on the ground they are spectacular.
  • The Viburnum family: This is the largest family of fruit bearing plants; they vary in many shades of red to reddish-purple, blue, and black. If you want birds you will need the Viburnum family on your property.
  • Bayberry family: Dusty blue fruit.
  • Barberry family: Oval red to yellow fruit.
  • Snowberry; beautiful white fruit clusters.
  • Burning Bush: red to pink fruit that will break open to reveal orange seeds.
  • Privet Hedges: with wonderful blue black fruit clusters.
  • Rosa Rugosa: Bright orange fruit that changes to red.
  • The Beautyberry family: white, pink, and purple fruit clusters. A must-see plant in the fall.
  • Winterberry family: My favorite deciduous plant, with shiny red fruit clusters that cover the new growth on the plant. Winterberry is often sold during Christmas to put in window boxes outside for the winter with greens. "
Paul, thanks again for a great post that is rich with information! We would love to talk with you about any of these plants!

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
October 11, 2011

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