I keep trying and failing to have lots of autumn berries in the garden. Berries are good to have, in theory, because they attract birds and provide ornamental interest in fall and winter.
Of course, those two goals are to a great extent at cross purposes. If the berries are eaten by birds (or just as likely, squirrels) they won’t be around for us to admire in fall and winter.
We have three plants in the garden whose fruit gets gobbled up so quickly that it is totally useless late seasonal interest-wise: Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum), Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), and Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).
A few of our plants have fall fruit with ornamental value. First off, there’s Starry Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum stellatum). This is a low-growing shade perennial. Its berries start green with unusual dark stripes, then turn red when ripe.
Then there’s ‘Donald Wyman’ crabapple. Birds are not quick to eat the red fruit for some reason. We’ve also got a young ‘Golden Raindrops’ Crabapple. It bears small yellow fruits but so far in very limited quantities – and they get eaten almost immediately.
There’s also Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum racemosum). This plant has been a disappointment despite the nice red berries. In our garden, at least, the stems almost always fall to the ground by the time the fruit is ripe, which spoils the effect. All of my efforts to prevent this have come to naught.
Last but not least, there’s Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum). I like the fruit of this plant better than I like the flowers.
I really want to get a shrub or small tree that keeps its berries long enough to be appreciated. Preferably something that isn’t so attractive to squirrels. Maybe Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) or Winterberry (Ilex verticillata). It will need to tolerate at least part shade. I lean more toward the Chokeberry because it has more going on in terms of flowers and foliage. What do you think?