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Ornamental Berries - Gems of the Garden

Every autumn in the Rogue Valley a multitude of shrubs and trees entertain us with their ornamental berries.

With the abrupt onslaught of cold weather, the berries swell and turn brilliant colors. With a little planning and smart planting, you can introduce these colors into your autumn garden, just as you might decorate a house for the holidays.

Despite the potential of messy fruit drop, many species of berry-producing plants are cleaned up nicely by the birds, a very convenient service to the gardener. Most berry-producing plants are brewing cold weather feasts to feed our feathered garden friends. We simply are blessed with the gift of colorful berries to visually enjoy until the birds determine it is time to eat them all.

The common, and deservedly popular firethorn (Pyracantha) demands and deserves attention well into the coldest days of winter. Its dense masses of glowing red or orange berries persist for several months (many varieties begin bearing fruit in summer) before the birds decide they are perfectly ripe for devouring. For a change, search out and plant the variegated firethorn, 'Harlequin,' having yellow and green leaves.

Less common, but no less showy are the following berry-producing shrubs, trees, and vines that will brighten autumn in any Rogue Valley garden. Search for them at your local garden center; if you don't find them, ask if they can be special ordered.

Giant Winged Euonymus <I>(Euonymus elatus var. monstrosus)</I> has orange and red hanging fruit that linger all winter totally decorating this large (up to 10 foot tall and wide) deciduous shrub.