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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Growing Together: Plants with beautiful fall berries
Beautyberry Bushes are shrubs that produce berries with the arrival of autumn. JOANNE YOUNG

I don’t want to rush things, but fall will be here in just a few short weeks.

I must admit that I love autumn. The beautiful fall colours of the leaves make everything seem magical.

One way to extend interest in your garden late into the season and even into winter is by adding plants that have showy berries.

Here are some plants that will lengthen your enjoyment of your garden.

Aronia, commonly known as chokeberry (not to be confused with chokecherry) is a native shrub that likes to grow in damp, boggy areas. It will also grow well in regular soil.

Although it is not a common sight in gardens, it does deserve a spot.

Chokeberry has several seasons of interest. The plant is a mass of small white flowers in spring and has small, dark green, glossy leaves in the summer.

As fall approaches, clusters of black or red berries begin to ripen and remain on the plant into winter. This native shrub also has leaves that turn bright, wine-red in fall.

The two species that you will see for sale are aronia melanocarpa (which produces blackberries) and aronia arbutifolia (which produces red berries).

Even though the berries are quite sour when eaten raw, they can be used to make wine, jam, syrup, juice, soft spreads, tea, salsa, extracts and ice cream.

The berries have also been found to have several health benefits including anti-cancer properties. 

The aronia melanocarpa grows three to five feet high and wide. Aronia arbutifolia is larger growing reaching up to ten to twelve feet high and wide. Tolerates sun or part shade.

Highbush cranberry viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) is another native shrub. It can be commonly found growing more at the edge of forests.

I love that a lot of the native shrubs have beautiful flowers, berries, and great fall colour and highbush cranberry viburnum delivers it in all departments.

In mid-spring this shrub sports large, flat, lacy clusters of white flowers. By late summer, large clusters of bright red berries begin to ripen and remain on the plant throughout the fall and winter months.

They are a favourite of many birds. Also, the leaves will turn fiery red in the fall.

This viburnum can tolerate full sun or part shade. This shrub will grow to eight feet high and wide.

Beautyberry bush (Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion) is a little-known shrub with amazing berries in the fall.

What makes this shrub unusual is its amethyst-purple clusters of berries that persist into winter.

Not only are the clusters of berries just at the tips of each branch but continue down the arching stems as well.

The plant has tiny, mauve flowers in late spring-early summer. This shrub attracts bees and butterflies.

Beautyberry grows four to six feet high and wide and will fit into a mixed border very well.

It tolerates full sun or a partly shaded area. It will definitely be a highlight of your fall garden.

There are other plants as well that will provide you with fall/winter berries and extend your season in the garden.

There are two types of hollies: the evergreen varieties (Ilex x meserveae) and also deciduous hollies (Ilex verticillata).

With the hollies, there are male and female plants. The females produce the berries, but the male plants must be planted close by for cross-pollination.

Other plants to consider when thinking of berries are firethorn, cotoneaster, barberry, and porcelain berry bine.

So, if you want to extend the seasonal interest in your garden, any of these plants will be “berry” good additions.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca

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