Christmas is over and the fairy lights that lent a little sparkle will soon be back in the loft. Now the garden really has to work to lure us to the window let alone outside.W
hat you need, according to the magazines, is “winter interest” – shorthand for evergreens and berried shrubs.
With that in mind I planted a Gaultheria mucronata which has fleshy snow white berries. I didn’t realise that the plant needed a male mate to fertilise the flowers so I had no berries the first winter. I purchased a Gaultheria mucronata (mascula) and planted it nearby and this year we have berries!
I have also been busy picking berries from native hedge plants to see what I can get to germinate. The Cotoneaster horizontalis were a great success and now hug the front wall which faces due north and is shadowed by the house. I also managed to get some Spindle Tree (Euonymus europaeus) to sprout and they have the most amazing clashing berries which are bright orange inside a bubblegum pink casing.
We inherited an ivy-clad wall which swarmed with bees, wasps and hoverflies in the late summer and is now thick with glossy black clusters of berries. They are a favourite with blackbirds and wood pigeons.
Above all I would like holly berries. We have a bush at the top of the garden but it has never produced berries. Like the Gaultheria, hollies are dioecious: meaning plants are either male or female and need a mate to pollinate flowers and produce berries. I have planted a few seedlings along the hedge nearby and also invested in two specimen hollies: Golden King (which is a female plant…) and Silver Queen (which is male… I know…) They are planted near the pond and are very pretty in their own right when all the towering herbaceous plants have died down.
Hopefully Golden King will have berries when it is more established.