Berries for wildlife

Aside from shrubs offering attractive foliage and flowers throughout the year, some offer berries that provide a valuable food source throughout the colder months.

Virburnum tinus is an attractive shrub with dark, glossy leaves. it bears highly scented flowers from late winter through to spring. The berries come after the flowers so don’t dead head until pruning begins in spring. The plants needs to be with another of the same species for pollination. Will perform well in a shady spot.

Sorbus americana (Mountain ash) too offers berries over the colder months, it flowers in summer. This decidious tree will thrive late summer to autumn. An ornamental known for its clusters of flowers and bright fruit. It’s also known as Rowan.

Ilex aquifolium (Holly) often does not bear fruit when over pruned. An evergreen, it provides an effective habitat for wildlife and a food source. Beneficial insects are attracted to the shrub/hedge to pollinate the flowers. Holly bear flowers of both sexes so after pollination fruit will form.

Virginia Creeper is a climber that provides a food source for much wildlife. Similiar to Ivy, it is often used to hide a multitude of sins and can be planted against a wall. it produces clusters of flowers in spring although these are non-descript. It is quite invasive but offers very attractive foliage in the autumn months. It is a decidious vine and both the leaves and berries contain an irritant.

Skimmia Japonica can provide interest all year round. Both the leaves and flowers are scented. An evergreen, the female flowers will form fruit that will cover the the winter months, the male flowers are more scented and when coupled together achieve a breathtaking display.

Cotoneaster is a very hardy, robust specimen. Can be evergreen or decidious and habit can differ. There are ground cover varieites, C. horizontalis or arching habit C. Conspicuus ‘Decorus’. The berries are usually red – save for C. rothschildianus which are cream. It can be invasive if not contained, it usually will just keep spreading.

A close relation to Cotoneaster is Pyracantha. Pyracantha (Firethorn) offers berries in autumn and flowers in spring. It is an evergreen with attractive glossy leaves. It can often be trained against a wall. It does have spines on its branches which can make it difficult to work with. It needs to be in a sheltered spot but otherwise will provide you with a wealth of flowers and berries at different times of the year.

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