In autumn the garden is adorned with jewels – ornamental (and some edible) fruits in a kaleidoscope of colours, often overlooked but well worthy of attention. Some cluster jostling for space along bare branches, others dangle from thread-like stems. Smooth, spiky, metallic, they are every bit as beautiful as the flowers that preceded them and carry hope in the seeds within.
My favourite are the pearlescent white berries of the Snow Berry (Symphoricarpos). They huddle together in clusters, squeezing each other into odd shapes as they swell. The plant itself is plain, but the annual display of berries is heavenly. Callicarpa berries too in metallic purple are divine and the reason behind the common name of the plant, Beauty Berry. I planted one in a new shrub bed a year or so ago, only to have its young stature flattened by a wayward animal (dog,sheep or human?), so it’s on the list to replant.
At this time of year the Medlar fruit are also gorgeous, swathed in the stunning autumn foliage of the tree in every imaginable tone of gold, orange and red. The miniature apples of the crabapple trees are also lovely, and the olives too.
As long as they’re not invasive (like the terrible privet that spots our landscape), fruiting shrubs and trees can provide a valuable food source for birds. Those listed as noxious vary from region to region, so check with your local authorities before you plant.
Here’s a list of some favourite shrubs and trees to grow for their beautiful ornamental fruits and berries.
- Symphoricarpos albus – Snow Berry
- Callicarpa bodinieri (Beauty Bush)
- Crataegus smithiana (Red Mexican Hawthorn)
- Crataegus pubescens (Mexican Hawthorn)
- Malus (Crabapples including Plena, floribunda, Royal Raindrops, Gorgeous, Tom Matthews and so many more)
- Mespilus (Medlar, Dutch and Nottingham)
- Pistachia chinensis (Chinese Pistachio)
- Sambucus (Elderberry)
- Platanus (Plane Tree)
- Berberis (Barberry)
- Arbutus (Strawberry tree)
- Cornus capitata (Evergreen Dogwood)
- Raphiolepis (various cultivars)
- Roses (for hips, the true species roses plus many others)