Flowers and foliage are often the first thing gardeners think about when choosing plants for the garden, but many plants have another explosion of colour that's every bit as spectacular as blossom or elegant leaves. Berries can smother a tree or shrub in a good year, often in late autumn and early winter when there's not much in the way of other colour around.
Visit our garden centre in East Fortune in autumn and you'll get lots of ideas about plants that will give you a good display of autumn berries. Here are some of our favourite plants to give you a some lovely autumn berries:
- Berberis We particularly like Berberis thunbergii which is a really easy to grow shrub that just keeps on giving. You'll find it covered in pale straw-coloured flowers in spring, and the combination of orange foliage and brilliant red berries in autumn is stunning
- Cotoneasters come in all shapes and sizes, from horizontalis, with herringbone branches which can be trained against a wall, to serotinus, an arching shrub to 1.5m tall. All are smothered in berries in autumn.
- Pyracantha (Firethorn ) (see inset) comes with red, orange or yellow berries - why not plant a mix for a firework display of densely-clustered berries in autumn. An evergreen shrub, Pyracantha can also be trained against a wall for a sculptural garden feature. If you visit Merryhatton in the autumn, we usually have a spectacular show of orange berries on the Pyracantha in the car park, so it's clearly well-suited to the East Lothian climate!
- Holly (Ilex aquifolium) only has berries if you plant a male and a female plant: if you haven't room, there's a self-fertile variety called 'JC Van Tol'.
- Sorbus is commonly known as Rowan or Mountain Ash and features in much Scottish folklore. The berries on these small trees are much loved by birds. While most of the berries are reddish-orange, you might like to consider Sorbus cashmiriana which has pearly white berries, or Sorbus 'Joseph Rock' with its buttery yellow berries.
- Callicarpa bodinieri - sometimes known as the Beauty berry - has the most extraordinary autumn berries which are iridescent, jewel-like violet purple. There's really nothing else quite like them in the plant world.
- Sambucus nigra (Elder) has frothy dinner-plate flowerheads during summer which mature into sprays of black berries and can be used to make elderberry wine in autumn once the berries ripen.
If you'd like more information on plants with good autumn berries, please speak to one of the plant team - we're always happy to chat gardening!