I recently mentioned that winter days may be gray but planting colorful conifers will brighten your spirits. So will deciduous plants (those that lose their leaves in the fall) with colorful berries.

Callicarpa berries


On Sunday, my husband and I visited a friend whose walkway was planted with Callicarpa (Beautyberry). Even though it was raining, the copious, bright magenta berries really caught our eyes. This shrub grows 3-4’ high and wide with graceful, arching branches that are loaded with berries.

Callicarpa flowers


The berries are preceded, in mid-summer, by small lavender flowers. Callicarpa needs full sun or light shade and average moisture.



Ilex verticillata in winter

Another option is one of the hollies. Deciduous hollies, Ilex verticillata, are called Winterberry. There are several cultivars. Most grow 6-9’ high and wide and have bright red berries although a few are shorter and a few have yellow berries while there is one with orange-red berries. Winterberries are swamp plants but they will also grow quite well with average moisture in full sun or light shade.

Ilex verticillata flowers and foliage



The berries of Ilex verticillata are preceded in June by small white flower


Evergreen hollies, Ilex x meservae, are large, growing 10-16’ depending on the cultivar, but can be kept quite a bit shorter with annual pruning. Their glossy foliage is lovely but prone to winter dessication so siting on the east side of a building lessens their battering by winter winds and high respiration by strong winter sun (when it appears). They have small, almost inconspicuous, white flowers in May but relatively large, red berries in fall and winter.