Berries For MMD

My friend and fellow blogger Mr. McGregor’s Daughter, or MMD as she is referred to for the sake of brevity, has started a meme about berries in the garden. It just so happens that we have been hoarding photos for a post about berries to be written during the slow months of winter when there is not much colorful going on in the garden. There are a couple of other files for posts during that dreary gray time also being compiled. Do you save photos and topics for the slower times too? Anyway, rather than raid that cache the camera was grabbed and the resulting shots are presented here as the berries of the September 2008 garden. Shown above are the blackberry lilies, Belamcanda chinensis, heavy with seeds. All those beautiful seeds are ready to be sown now, that is why we have so many of this plant. We have so many that instead of planting every seed we can leave them on the straw colored stalks for fall and winter interest. The lovely pink haze in the background is the Muhlenbergia capillaris, the topic of another post coming up soon.We are awash in these berries from the native pokeberry plant, Phytolacca americana. We don’t have to save these seeds and plant them for they are planted by the birds after their digestive tracts have made use of the pulpy fruits, everywhere in every bed. Some are left to grow and produce along the property edges. The hot pink stems are striking wtih the black berries, don’t you agree?Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’ is finally growing to a size to have more than one or two berries. Ordered from Heronswood while it was still owned by Daniel Hinkley, (don’t get me started on that subject) it arrived off the truck as a very small specimen. Of course it was moved a couple of times, then accidently pruned, read stepped on, by a clumsy gardener. Sigh. The flowers are white tufts in the spring and the berries of Viking are black and large but the main feature of this shrub is the colorful fall foliage, brilliant red. The leaves are just beginning to change and it is hoped that the berries will remain for contrast. The birds are not interested in the berries, and humans should not try them for the common name of this plant is chokeberry. (Added: wikipedia says the berries can be used for jams, but I am not giving them a try!)We have been on a mission to add more berries for winter interest and wildlife feeding for a few years now. In addition to the Viburnum x rhytidophylloides ‘Alleghany’ of which there are two large and two smaller seedlings from the two large are V. ‘Brandywine’, ‘Blue Muffin’, ‘Winterthur’, opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’, ‘Cardinal Candy’, three of those, and an unknown spring bloomer whose berries are quickly eaten by the birds. Some day when these mail ordered bushes are blooming size, there should be a wealth of berries for this meme!This was a banner year for the dogwoods. Click here to read about the bounty of blooms produced by the pink dogwoods planted on the slope behind the main house. The flowers have given way to a bounty of berries. We are already pulling dogwood seedlings from paths and beds. After this crop falls to the ground and germinates we will have very tired fingers from pulling them. Wonderful as these trees are, there is such a thing as too many.Given by generous neighbors Mae and Mickey, he even planted it for me!, is what was believed to be Euonymus americana, Hearts-A-Bustin’. After seeing a bush by the same name at friend and fellow Tennessee blogger Gail’s garden of Clay and Limestone that looked very different and also some studying online, we can now say that we have no idea what this bush/tree is. Does anyone recognize it? The hearts will open to reveal red berries with the husks a light tan, a very fetching combo.Now we get to the meat of this post, up to now was the appetizer, soup and salad. A close up photo of this berry was used as a header a few posts back and was understandably mistaken for persimmons by Our Friend Ben of Poor Richard’s Almanac . Do you know what this bush/tree is? It is a native winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’. Also growing here is Ilex verticillata ‘Sparkleberry’.There are two bushes of each of these varieties and two more of the male pollinators that are necessary for berry production, I. verticillata ‘Apollo’. We added two more red fruited shrubs to the grouping, I. ‘Berry Heavy’ that are still small and have been moved closer to  the males for better berries. With a name like berry heavy we are expecting lots of fruits. All of these hollies are planted under the Yoshino cherry tree in the front of the house. The cherry has already dropped its leaves and the hollies are laden for a delightful winter show. Their leaves will color then fall to the ground to leave stems and colorful berries.  The birds leave the berries alone until they, the berries that is, soften in March. That is when we know that spring is just around the corner, when the cardinals sit and munch all day on the bright berries. Spring!!!! Well, it’s best to think ahead when you are a gardener, isn’t it?

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27 Responses to Berries For MMD

  1. fairegarden says:

    Hello all readers, this is just a test of the system to see if the comments are working and to thank one and all who submitted Fairegarden to the nominations at Blotanical. We are so fortunate to have been selected to compete in the categories of Best US Blog, (blush), Best Writing, (double blush), Best Newcomer, (triple blush, and Blog of The Year! (beyond blushing to fainting with appreciation). I am truly just so very happy to have been nominated and wish the best to all nominees in all categories, a fine bunch of bloggers!


  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I bet you are as red as some of your berries Frances. Congrats on the nominations.

    I do like all your berries. You have some I am not familiar with but hope to become familiar. I have heard of choke berries before but didn’t know just what they were. Great post of a large selection of berries.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I do have very thin skin that turns red at the least little thing, LOL. There are chokeberries that are a lovely red too, but the plant grows much larger and I like the black ones anyway. They all have great fall color.

  3. ourfriendben says:

    You’re not the only one who’s blushing, Frances! Persimmons—yikes! Pokeweed is one of my all-time favorite plants, especially in fall with its stunning red leaves and those purple berries. But you have quite an assortment of winners here! One can never have too many berries, or, er, dogwoods?! I’m astounded that you have volunteer dogwoods coming up like Norway maple seedlings. I wish you could send some of those little suckers up here to us!!! And pink though you may be at the thought, those nominations are VERY well deserved!!!

    Hi OFB, I was a little worried about mentioning the persimmon thing, but thought it was funny and you know we are always looking for funny. ;-> I would be more than happy to send you some dogwood seedlings, January is the best time, when they are dormant. I can always ID them because the stems are so distinctive, but be warned, they will be small, the best way to transplant them. Send me your address and I will put it on my tasks list so I won’t forget. I’ll let you know when they are mailed. Many congrats on your own nomination for Best Writing and Best Organic Blog, well deserved for you are not just talking the talk but are walking the walk! Thanks so much for your support!

  4. Gail says:

    Frances, The berries are delightful and abundant! They sure add winter interest and color to your garden. I have Aronia arbutifolia but the berries aren’t this pronounced. You know I have to research the strawberry bush, too. Mine is blooming now. So many beautiful vignettes to see in your garden! I am excited to visit it! Thanks for the Clay and Limestone shout out. We ‘needs berries berry much here!’ Congrats on the well deserved nominations! Gail

    Hi Gail, thanks and many congrats on your own nominations…Best Newcomer, Most User Friendly and Blog Post of the Year-…How Blogs Got Their Names? !

    Viking was bred for berry size, I think that was its deal. When you find out about the hearts a bustin’, let me know. Maybe there are just different varieties of the same thing, but my berries lack those spiny coverings, they are smooth. I can’t wait for you to come see the garden too.

  5. Zoe says:

    Hi Frances, wonderful berries, really enjoyed these images.

    The plant you are unsure of is from the Genus Euonymus, could be europaeus, although it’s difficult to tell from the image. Its also known as the Spindle Bush, and some time Fire or Burning Bush. Maybe that will help you track down exactly which Euonymus it is.

    Best Wishes,


    Hi Zoe, thanks for the help. I will do some research then update the post if I can locate the name. Much appreciated.

    Upon checking this looks very much like my bush. Gail also gave me the name E. bungeanus which also looks just like it. Maybe it is a cross of the two!

  6. nancybond says:

    Your berries are all delightful! They add such a nice punctuation of color at the end of summer. Er, happy fall, by the way. 🙂

    Hi Nancy, thanks and happy fall to you. In addition, congrats on your nominations for Best Photography, Blotanist of The Year, Best Commenter,and Best Indoor Gardener, quite a group of categories!

  7. Cameron says:

    The berries provide such beautiful color and interest this time of year. No, I haven’t hoarded photos specifically for the winter, but that’s a great idea! LOL

    Hi Cameron, thanks. Feel free to use any ideas you see here. ;-> LOL back at ya!

  8. Chickenpoet says:

    Berries are beautiful and useful. They are such a contributer in the circle of life. The bushes and berries provide food and shelter for those animals that are, so many times, overlooked and underappreciated. I am sure my berries on bushes will be whispering thanks to the Grand Master Gardener “Fairegarden”. I hope to finish planting my Lowes super clearance plants, and will be listening to the singing of praises to Mother Nature, and all her little elves (get it ?) on this first day of Autumn. Much Love, CP

    Hello my dear Chickenpoet, thanks. I am unfortunately not a master gardener, that is a program of classes and community service that is not available here, but if and when I ever move to Knoxville, that is another story. I appreciate your praise, however and thank you. But being a dullard today do not get the elves, unless it is those dastardly squirrels running around here with a mouth full of walnut looking for someplace to dig a big hole and plop it in, someplace with soft dirt, like my newly prepared veggie bed!
    Love, Frances

  9. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! Your garden is so lovely and diversified! I love all your berries and the photo of all of the hollies planted under the Yoshino Cherry Tree is stunning. Happy Fall to you today!

    Hi Siria, thanks. We are nothing if not diversified! The hollies are a highlight here in the winter with the mix of gold and red.

  10. tina says:

    Your berries are so great. I love that Bellacanda and no wonder you have so many plants they are all so happy! You can keep the pokeberry as pretty as it is I don’t want it. I have Brilliantissma chokeberry and it is tiny so far.I can attest chokeberry jelly is great. My mother always made it. CONGRATULATIONS on your nominations. All well deserved!

    Hi Tina, thanks. Would you like some belamcanda seeds? Of course you would! Send me your address and I will send them now, they are ready. I don’t really want the pokeberries either but have them anyway. The red chokeberry is supposed to grow much larger than I was looking for, I will look forward to seeing photos of yours as a biggee. My black one has grown very slowly too but it getting there. I have read that they like water so have been giving mine some extra and it has done better. Thanks for the congrats, and happy blog anniversary, the big ONE year!

  11. Thank you for this wonderful post! I love it. Now I can add Blackberry Lilies to the list of wanted plants, though I’ll take a pass on the Pokeberry. It’s pretty, but I don’t have enough room for that bad boy. Is that the one that Poke Salad is made from? I’m assuming you’ll be posting photos of the Aronia once it turns. I look forward to seeing that bright red. Will you be doing a post comparing the Viburnums for those of us who have yet to get one & can’t decide which? I really like your mystery shrub’s hearts. I have no clue what it is. The Hollies are fantastic! I wish Holly liked my soil. There was one very sad Holly here when I bought the house. It languished for a few years, then just gave up. Hollies are one of those plants that shine in winter.
    I look forward to your wintertime berry post. I don’t deliberately save photos or topics for winter posts, but I somehow manage to come up with subjects anyway. Thanks for the link love.

    Hi MMD, thanks and so glad you liked it, it was made just for you! ;-> I do believe the pokeberry leaf is referred to as poke salat but has to be boiled to death to remove the toxins! Yum. If and when I get any kind of berries on those viburnums they will be shown, but I fear it will be years before that happens. I just mailed you some seeds, but will send some blackberry lily ones along soon. Hollies are a shrub that love it here, there are seedlings of the American hollies everywhere, just like the dogwoods. They can take the dry shade under the tall pines better than any other shrub.


  12. Oops! I forgot to congratulate you on your nominations for the Blotanicals.

    Thanks my friend.

  13. Siria says:

    Oh and I forgot to say CONGRATULATIONS on the much deserved nominations! :))

    Thanks to you too, Siria.

  14. Racquel says:

    Congratulations, I know I nominated your blog a few times myself. I look forward to your posts & always enjoy reading what’s going on in the Faire Garden. Your multitude of berries in the garden must be very attractive to our winged friends. I am in the process of adding more of these native shrubs to my garden too. 🙂

    Hi Racquel, thanks so much for that! We do have lots of both habitat and food for lots of critters. I saw that you bought the viburnums, yours look much bigger than mine, we can have a race to see who gets the first berry! LOL

  15. Kathleen says:

    Wow, Frances, you have an amazing assortment of beautiful berries in your Faire Garden. I’m sure the birds find your garden a welcome retreat with the banquet of food you provide. I should get my camera out and play along. I miss the dogwoods and the holly. My grandmother would stick holly in our Christmas box (after we moved west) so we could have a taste of home. It was so welcome. I loved Heronswood Nursery too (I wonder what your story is??)

    Hi Kathleen, thanks and welcome. Glad to see you here. I have worked on adding berries the last several years, choosing plants just for the berries, there are many choices too. I had never been a big fan of holly until we first moved to TN the first time. There were several nice sized shrubs in the landscape with loads of red berries. At that time I was still only interested in flowers, silly me. The outfit that bought Heronswood, who shall not be named here, sold the gardens because it was not convenient for their business back East.;-<

  16. Kathleen says:

    PS. Congrats on your nominations. I’m so “out of it” when it comes to blotanical I don’t even know how to nominate. Your blog and garden are definitely deserving of awards.

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. The nominations are over, but if you click on the pretty badge on my sidebar you can vote ;->

  17. Does Beautyberry grow where you are? I’m in Atlanta and have lovely clear purple berries right now. The bush is deciduous unfortunately, but I still love it.

    Hi Jill, welcome. Beautyberry can grow here but I don’t grow it. The purple berries are beautiful.

  18. Sunita says:

    Thats wonderful, Frances! You deserve all those nominations for your very readable blog : )
    All those berries look so colourful. Something like Nature’s last hurrah before slipping into winter sleep I suppose (but what would I know about that ? my plants are perfectly fine in our mock-winter… its just me who cant stop from falling asleep then!)

    Hi Sunita, thanks so much, I appreciate your support and am glad you find the blog readable. It was a struggle but I am happy now with the font size. You made me sleepy just thinking about those short days and long nights! LOL

  19. Pam/Digging says:

    Ooh la la, such pretty berries! But please don’t mention spring just yet, Frances. We Texas bloggers are just getting out our trowels and shovels again after a long, indoor summer. We can’t wish away fall yet.

    Congrats on your Blotanical nominations too!

    Hi Pam, thanks, but don’t get me wrong, I love fall and want it to be a nice leisurely stroll this year. But you’ve got to think about spring with the major bulb planting that goes on here at this time, planning color combos and bloom times. I am just a natural planner, the farther into the future the better. I know you Texans and others have been waiting for the cooler temps of your second spring. I remember well living in Houston how it was to be able to work outside, even in the early morning without feeling like you had jumped into a sauna, literally dripping with sweat in a very short time. Enjoy fall, by all means, don’t let me rush you! ;-> And congrats for you on your many nominations, Best US blog, Best drought tolerant blog, Best photography, Most User Friendly and Blog of the year.

  20. eve says:

    Wonderful photos of the berries. The only berreis I have are the Mulberries. I have a large tree and the birds deposit little purple presents all over my white porch railings. But it does give me a chance to see the pretty birds, even though thier manners are bad. LOL
    Congratualtions on your nomination. You have a wonder-filled, and beautiful blog.

    Hi Eve, thanks. Even dark porch railings don’t benefit from digested mulberry gifts from the birds. You are a good steward of nature to forgive them and enjoy their beauty. Bravo.

  21. walk2write says:

    This post was very interesting, and your pics are spectacular. Congratulations on your well-deserved awards. I love the different viburnums you grow. They smell wonderful in the springtime when they bloom. Have you ever grown a tea viburnum? I have seen it in catalogs before and wondered if it would be worth growing. I know it would probably not do well in FL, but if we ever buy another house in the Midwest I might give it a try. Here is some info I found:

    Hi Walk2write, thanks so much for your support. My viburnums are still small and haven’t bloomed yet except Allegheny. I do look forward to giving them the sniff test, however. I have not grown the tea viburnum but it sounds wonderful, so cannot give any advice about that one. In my garden size matters. The very large growing ones were not chosen for that reason, and I was very interested in berries and fall foliage. Thanks for that link too.

  22. Chickenpoet says:

    I must say that you could probably teach some of the classes of this master gardener school. I think a lifetime of work should be at least an equivilant to tested knowledge. But, next time I will be more creative with my semantics.

    And the elves thing: YOU are an elf of Mother Nature, as the praises are also for you as well. Yes, the instinctual squirrels are part of your garden, as you are a part of their habitat. Bury some nuts for them in thier own garden with the kind of dirt they desire; somewhere away from your veggies.
    Love, CP

    PS: Where is this voting thing?

    Hello dear Chickenpoet, I hesitated to correct you about the mastergardener thing, and many others have called me that as well, meaning someone who knows a lot about gardening, but wanted to be sure that other readers knew that this is a specific program that you must attend and pass to call yourself that. Someday I hope to be a master gardener too. I do appreciate your compliment and am most thankful for it.

    As for the evil squirrels, and there are whole brigades of them, they think the whole garden is theirs and are not willing to limit their digging to an assigned spot. If only that were possible. I have found that chickenwire deters their digging in the freshly prepared veggie bed with boards at the edges for they try very hard to go under the wire. Last year I put the wire over tulips and only used wire pins to secure the edges. They dug under and dug up and ate a bunch of the bulbs that night! Now the edges have large rocks and boards. You can see the evidence of their efforts of digging but they were stopped! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry, not very elfish of me. ;->
    Love, Frances
    ps, you can see the voting by clicking on the orange badge at the top of the sidebar, but only members of blotanical can vote.

  23. Lola says:

    I don’t think any bird will go hungry in your garden. So many the little birdies will have a hard time making a choice. The Blackberry Lily really cought my eye. Loved all the pics of the berries.

    Hi Lola, thanks. If a bird goes hungry here, they just aren’t making the effort! ;->

  24. Gail says:

    Wow, You have had some late posters! Good night!

    Thanks, my quality control engineer!

  25. Gail says:

    Ooops..I forgot to post this Euonymus bungeanus. Check this out and see if it is your shrub! Gail

    Hi Gail, that does indeed look like it, but the leaf is not heart shaped like one of the sites showed. It also looks just like the one Zoe mentioned E. europaeus. Maybe it is a cross of the two! My neighbors had gotten it from a friend of theirs that has a fantastic collection of unusual plants from all over the world and they don’t care much about identification, only how it grows and its appearance. I am the happy recipient of many of these. Both of these E.s have the berry that mine has. It does self sow and I have given babies to the offspring. It is a great shrub/tree. Thanks to both you and Zoe for the ID. Good detective work.

  26. Chickenpoet says:

    Okay, I will leave you alone ;). I just felt argumentative yesterday. But I do have to add, if the squirrels are overpopulated, you need to introduce a predator. The predator/prey relationship should keep populations in check.

    I will drop it.
    I love ya, CP

    Hello, my dear Chickenpoet, you scared me there for a minute until I saw the smiley face. Argumentative, you? HA. The squirrels are part of the overall picture, I know, but they sure cause me some problems. There are neighborhood cats that might help, but I would rather have the squirrels than anythiing more predatory than that.
    Love, Frances

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