In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
These bright viburnum berries will make you smile.
In spite of our intense drought in the Midwest this summer, there have been some beautiful surprises in my garden. One of my favorites is the color show put on by the wayfaring viburnum. This has made me really plan to add more shrubs with color to my landscape.
This particular viburnum has been a standard in my landscapes forever because of its massive size and ability to function as a great screen. Viburnum lantana has clusters of creamy white flowers in spring, followed by berries that ripen first to red and finally to black. They look somewhat like raisins and hang on the plant all winter.
For some reason, this year the berries are more abundant than ever. They are bright red right now, and my fifteen foot shrubs are absolutely covered. The shrubs are like a beacon in the landscape, and you can see the bright red berries from all over the yard.
Another great berried shrub is the gray dogwood. Cornus racemosa is usually used in a naturalized setting since it spreads by underground rhizomes. It grows 10-15 feet tall, but can be pruned to use as a shorter screening plant. Its white flower clusters are followed by bright white fruits on bright pink stems. It's a great wildlife plant, and when the berries have been eaten, the pink stems remain through the winter to give some added color.
Pagoda dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia) are larger shrubs, sometimes considered small trees. They have a graceful horizontal shape, and their flowers are followed by berries that ripen to deep blue. These fruits are favored by birds and squirrels, so the berries are pretty much finished by mid-summer. However, we can always look forward to the striking maroon fall color.
We tend to think of some of the native roses as beautiful in bloom, but then not very showy afterwards. However, they are ablaze with rose hips right now, and will carry these beautiful fruits all the way into winter. The size of the hips varies among species, and the fruits may be yellowish, pink, or bright red.
Deciduous hollies like winterberry(Ilex verticillata) are givens for beautiful berries in winter. However, the berries are turning red right now and even though they are tiny and the plants are in full leaf, the brightly colored fruits still put on a show as focal points in the landscape.
Elderberries (Sambucus spp.), staples for syrup and jam-making, are in full fruit right now, with their heavy heads of shiny, blue-black fruits tempting jelly-makers and birds at the same time. The fruits can be harvested, or you can simply enjoy their beauty while feeding the birds and squirrels.
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