‘Autumn Brilliance’ Indeed

Right now the showiest foliage in my yard is displayed by ‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’).  I have six of these upright, multi-stem shrubs in a couple different spots in my yard, and I consider them pretty much indispensible. There are few shrubs that are happy in shade that have as much to offer.

serviceberry Amelanchier autumn foliage autumn brilliance
Serviceberries along our east property line.

The foliage turns to glowing red and orange fairly early in the season. Powdery mildew is an occasional problem, but never too serious for me. I think the color is just as striking as that of Burning Bush (Euonymous alata), which is considered invasive in some areas.

Serviceberry foliage shows even brighter against the green hedge on our west property line. Some misguided pruning accounts for the odd shapes.

Serviceberry covers itself in white flowers in early spring. This year it was very early, the flowers were open by the last week of March.

Serviceberry flowers on March 24th of this year. The neighbors’ crabapple makes for a nice contrast.

And in June there are berries, which look very similar to blueberries. The berries are edible, some say they taste like a cross between blueberry and almond. They are also well-timed for the many birds nesting at that time. We like to watch the Robins hopping from branch to branch, helping themselves to the berries. They’re also a favorite of other fruit-eating birds, such as Cedar Waxwings.

Serviceberry berries, not quite ripe. They’re a deep blue-purple when ready to eat.

While the books say this shrub grows 15-25′, the specimens I planted almost 10 years ago have grown from five to about twelve feet high.

What has the most colorful foliage in your yard right now? And have you had good or bad experience with Serviceberries?

33 Comments on “‘Autumn Brilliance’ Indeed

  1. I’m inclined to replace my Burning Bushes with Serviceberry, but I hate pulling out plants and shrubs while they’re still alive. A lot of Burning Bushes didn’t make it through the drought this summer–I hope people will replace them with native shrubs.

    • I actually like taking down shrubs as long as I have a reasonable excuse. Some of my Serviceberries have taken the place of Buckthorn and shrub honeysuckles.

  2. Beautiful, and more than one season of interest. We have a small Euonymus alatus, I’ve glimpsed bright red through the towering flowers that surround it at the minute. I’m looking forward to more colour when it grows up! Would like to find somewhere on the boundary line to squeeze an Amelanchier too…

  3. My serviceberry was girdled by rabbits its first winter, which permanently stunted its growth. I keep thinking I should replace it, but never get around to it. It’s in a far corner of the yard, so I usually miss the feeding frenzy. Maybe I will plant another one closer to the house, for my viewing pleasure.

    • The rabbits have chewed on my Chokeberries, but not my Serviceberries. Two of our Serviceberries are right outside our back porch window so we can watch the robins and other birds feeding.

  4. HI Jason, The serviceberry in my front garden is displaying the lovely glowing red leaves you describe. I like the tiny flowers in spring, but my favourite thing about serviceberries has to be the fruit. It is a beautiful multi-colored berry. My serviceberry attracts the robins, who pick the fairly small tree clean the moment the berries are ripe.

  5. When I first started gardening here, I wanted a serviceberry because I had read so much about how the birds love it so. I couldn’t find one at any local nursery. In fact, most didn’t know what I was talking about. I guess they don’t grow around here. Yours are lovely. I may have to start asking around for them again.

    • ‘Autumn Brilliance’ is supposed to grow in zones 4-9, so they should grow in your area. You could always order one on-line from a mail order nursery like Nature Hills or Forest Farm. I’ve done that, and been happy with the results. My experience was that it was best to order bare root.

  6. I adore Serviceberry, and have been really happy over the past few years to see more and more of them planted around our neighborhood…such a fabulous plant, especially right now 🙂

  7. Service berry is a great understory tree. Sometimes they are called June berry in some areas. I think they are also referred to as Saskatoon berry. Holleygarden might have to try asking for them by the Latin name or one of the local vernacular names, of which I think there are several more.

  8. So much prettier than burning bush! I lived in a house with a serviceberry right along the front pathway. I loved it except when it dropped its berries onto the walkway, leaving a terrible sticky mess. I’ve been determined to put one in my garden . . . but well away from concrete pathways.

  9. Serviceberries (called saskatoons here in western Canada) are extremely popular landscape plants – plus they grow wild nearly everywhere. They are very hardy and have so many features to love, as you have pointed out. Fantastic autumn foliage, pretty spring flowers, and supremely delicious fruit – I’m a huge fan!

  10. We love our serviceberry! Ours is a native, and it’s just as pretty, though we’ve never had a mildew problem with it. I’ve tasted the berries, and to me they’re like a cross between blueberries and strawberries. Ours is at least 20 years old and still going strong.

  11. Hi Jason, Amelanchiers are really pretty small trees/large shrubs and I wish we could have a few. They really show out in the autumn where you have put them in front of a dark green foil and their blossom in the spring looks beautiful and delicate. I’m not surprised these trees seem to be gaining in popularity.

  12. Hello Jason, this looks like an Amelanchier, I’ve been wanting an Amelanchier in the garden for a while now because of their spring flowers, autumn colour and winter berries, I’ve got a spot ear-marked in a border to plant one, but I’m going to have to create the border first. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy yours.

  13. I am interested in purchasing a Serviceberry and would like to know what soil and other growing conditions they prefer. Our soil is alkaline and clay based. We are replacing an amur maple that did not do well in these conditions.

    • Hi Marilyn. I don’t think alkaline is a problem, as my soil is the same. Serviceberry likes loam best, but I think can tolerate some clay.

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