Berry Bounty is Beneficial


Whether it is a tiny inconspicuous berry or a larger specimen fruit they all make beautiful additions to complete our fall splendor. There are so many colors such as white, pink, red, blue, purple, yellow, and orange and even black, that it is a difficult choice to narrow down which ones are best. Fall has a habit of making one start to think about winding down for the year but how can you when your garden is only just starting to bring in its’ bounty? The warm, rich colors of this notorious Canadian season is what keeps us warm up until the last possible minute and no one seems to notice if it comes from a leaf, a bloom or a berry…and I have never met anyone who cared as long as there was color.

The decision would then have to be based on whether or not you want ornamental and/or edible specimens and whether you wanted berries that feed you or the animals (because they are too quick and usually get them first). I don’t like making theses kind of decisions so I try to have as many as possible. Is clashing berry colors still frowned upon? Well, berries are seasonal and couldn’t impact the overall look for long. Personally, I decided that feeding the birds took precedence over fashion. There is no wrong answer so it’s safe to just go with what you like. Nothing is out of bounds either because there are so many cultivars available now, that everyone has a chance of finding something they like. Color, shape, size and quantity of berries are rarely a problem to find.

Fruiting shrubs and trees are a great asset to your garden not only for food or something pretty to look at in the fall, but are great for cut floral arrangements and some winter interest while the birds munch away. Ornamental specimens are still quite useful, even if you can’t eat the fruit because their leaves and branches provide a sheltered place for birds to nest. Other beneficials such as: spiders, ladybugs and praying mantis also appreciate a place to stay. Dense shrubs in shady areas also tend to harbor frogs and toads because or their moist and leafy protective hiding spots underneath the plants’ crown. Berries are not just another pretty face, they actually contribute to our ecosystem by falling and decomposing to nourish the plant they fell from.

When choosing what kind of berry you would like, keep in mind whether it is dioeciously or monoecious. Dioecious plants require both a male and a female specimen to produce fruit. A monoecious plant will produce berries by itself because it bears both male and female flowers. A hermaphroditic plant has flowers that contain both male and female reproductive parts in each single flower. Crabapple, Holly and Bittersweet are examples that require a male plant to fertilize the females’ berries with their pollen. Keeping an eye out for this when shopping is a good idea only to ensure that if a specimen needs a counterpart or not, otherwise you will not get fruit. If unsure, or requirements are not listed on tag, ask a nursery employee for more information.

Berry Favorites For 2009:

Ophiopogon planiscapus

Celastrus scandens 'diane'

Symphoricarpos albus
Berberis sp. Malus sp.
Juniperus sp.