Gardening: Three of the best bushes for berries
GARDENERS, as well as birds, are in for a bumper berry haul this month, the Royal Horticultural Society is predicting, thanks to a warm, dry start to the year followed by summer rains. So, what colourful berried plants could we be growing in our gardens to bring us a bountiful show of colour? Guy Barter, RHS chief horticulturist recommends:
1. Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus)
Try this tall native quick-growing deciduous shrub with lobed leaves, reminiscent of an acer, with good autumn colour and masses of translucent red berries following white summer flowers. A particularly lovely yellow form is also available (Viburnum opulus 'Xanthocarpum'). Berries hang for weeks but are eventually consumed by birds. It's not fussy about soil or site and can even tolerate shade, and works as a stand-alone shrub, or in groups, or as part of a lightly pruned informal native hedge.
2. Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii
This moderately fast-growing medium-to-large deciduous shrub produces sweet-smelling white summer flowers followed by the startlingly turquoise berries, encased in a red ear-like calyces. There is even a variegated cultivar: Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii 'Carnival'. Any soil suits clerodendrum except the driest ones, but it does need at least partial sun. Suckers (shoots from the roots) often form, which can be dug up and given to gardening friends.
3. Skimmia japonica
These slow-growing evergreen medium-size shrubs are widely sold in autumn as they are particularly valuable in winter bedding and container displays. Male and female plants are separate, so a female and a male plant is required although hermaphrodites are offered. Skimmia japonica 'Nymans' carries abundant red berries that last deep into winter. Skimmia japonica 'Rubella' is a widely sold male with bright red flower buds. Moist soils or potting composts suit them well and they prefer shade to hot places and especially relish shady patio containers.