Berry-bearing trees and shrubs come into their own in autumn, creating colourful displays that last well into winter, which is why they have been chosen as one of our Plants of the Moment for October.
From elderberries to rose hips, crab apples to firethorns, “berrying” plants add a new dimension to any garden, carrying fruits and berries through autumn and into winter. Berry-producing plants also provide home grown food for hungry birds and wildlife too, enhancing their appeal and value to the garden.
Evergreen shrubs provide structure and form to the garden throughout the year, but many produce early displays of flowers followed by autumn berries. One of the best compact shrubs for borders or patio pots is a plant with a mouthful of a name, Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana. Don’t let this put you off as its displays of bright red berries are second to none!
To create seasonal pots for autumn colour include a small Gaultheria mucronata carrying brilliant berries in pink, red or pure white. Combined with pansies and violas, trailing ivy, heather, carex or skimmia your pots will put on a display that lasts for months.
Trained against walls and fences, firethorn (Pyracantha ) is a valuable evergreen shrub. Its thorny stems make it a great choice for producing secure garden boundaries, but don’t let the spines put you off buying. They provide valuable nesting sites for birds, flowers that attract bees, and red, orange or yellow berries to feed birds into winter.
TOP FOUR SHRUBS WITH COLOURFUL FRUITS AND BERRIES
- Firethorn – (Pyracantha varieties)
- Skimmia – Many female varieties produce wonderful displays of berries including Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana, Skimmia japonica ‘Nymans’ and ‘Obsession’. Male varieties are equally appealing with great flower displays, like ‘Magic Marlot’ and ‘Rubella’.
- Gaultheria Mucronata (Formerly called Pernettya)
- Cotoneaster – wide range of berrying shrubs including Horizontalis, ‘Coral Beauty’, ‘Cornubia’, Lacteus.
PET FRIENDLY HOUSEPLANTS
Five pet friendly houseplants have been selected for October especially for the owners of dogs, cats, rabbits and birds who sometimes fancy a little nibble on something green. Chlorophytum (spider plant), Cyperus (umbrella plant), Hordeum (cat grass), Beaucarnea (elephant’s foot) or Bambusa (bamboo) are all attractive to look at - and safe for our furry and feathered friends.
- Cyperus: 'alternifolius' is very well known, but the cultivar 'Zumula' is also very suitable as a pet-friendly houseplant.
- Beaucarnea has a sturdy stem with leaves that bend backwards. The young variety that only has a tuber, is called Nolina. The trunk and tuber can cope with cats that think it’s a very fine scratching post. Felines often find the leaves irresistible.
- Chlorophytum comosum with its variegated fronds has a few cultivars which differ somewhat in terms of the leaf colouring. The most common is ‘Variegatum’. Comosum means ‘crested’ and refers to the crests which are found on the plant’s runners.
- Bamboo in the living room is usually Bambusa vulgare, with sturdy yellow canes on which the bamboo leaves grow.
- Hordeum (cat grass) is a mini field of barley in a pot, container or bowl. It grows upwards in a compact way, provides (house) cats with folic acid and looks like a comical dark green tall lawn.
Sales and display tips for pet friendly plants
World Animal Day (4 October) is an excellent opportunity to highlight pet friendly houseplants. Display the plants with images of dogs and cats, create a campaign, arrange extra publicity around 'safe plants’ in your promotional materials. Consider booking a pet photographer, and have them work alongside the display of pet friendly plants. Include a table with pet friendly plants in your pet department to further highlight them directly to the right target audience.
Plant of the Moment is supported by National Garden Gift Card. With over 90,000 plants and products available at hundreds of garden outlets nationwide, anyone, anywhere in the UK can spend HTA Garden Gift Cards on pretty much anything to do with gardening.
Thanks to Adam Pasco and the Flower Council of Holland for the information contained in this article.