Snow covered landscape

Snow covered landscape

The past few days have been absolutely frigid and most of us have stayed inside unless we absolutely had to leave the house. I’m grateful that most plants have been encased in thick layers of snow, thus insulating them from the below zero temperatures but also hiding their winter beauty. As we emerge from the polar freeze in the next week, we will again be able to enjoy some of the winter beauty in our landscapes.

Ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold'

Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’

Ilex verticillata 'Chrysocarpa'

Ilex verticillata ‘Chrysocarpa’

Many woody ornamentals have bright berries. I always enjoy watching the robins in the crabapple outside my office window. They tend to feast there when there is snow on the ground. They also eat the berries on my Ilex verticillata (Winterberry). The berries on my cultivar ‘Winter Red’ are, of course, red but other cultivars such as ‘Winter Gold’ have berries that are orange while ‘Chrysocarpa’ has yellow berries. Most winterberries grow approximately six to feet tall and wide although there are some shorter cultivars at four feet. Although native to swampy areas, they exist quite happily in soil with average moisture and in sun or partial shade but fruiting is better in full sun.

Viburnum opulus 'Xanthocarpum'

Viburnum opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ (Photo credit – RHS)

Malus 'Bob White'

Malus ‘Bob White’ (Photo credit –

Malus 'Harvest Gold'

Malus ‘Harvest Gold’ (Photo credit –

For other yellow fruits, try Viburnum opulus ‘Xanthocarpum’ (Compact Golden Fruited Cranberrybush). It grows five to six feet tall and wide in sun or partial shade and also tolerates very wet soils.  Excellent yellow fruited crabapple (Malus) cultivars are ‘Bob White’ and ‘Harvest Gold’. Both have disease resistant foliage, red buds opening to white flowers, and persistent yellow fruits. ‘Bob White’ is a rounded 20’x 20’ tree while ‘Harvest Gold’ is a 20’x15’ upright oval.



As mentioned a few years ago, Callicarpa provides bright magenta purple berries, a very unusual color during the winter. All of these colors stand out against the snow.

Ilex glabra 'Leucocarpa'

Ilex glabra ‘Leucocarpa’ (Photo credit –

Symphoricarpos alba

Symphoricarpos alba

White berries illuminate gray days but do get lost if there is snow. You can find white berries on Ilex glabra ‘Leucocarpa’ and ‘Ivory Queen’ (White Berried Inkberry Holly) and Symphoricarpos alba (Common Snowberry) while gray ones occur on Myrica pensylvanica (Bayberry). Ilex glabra has evergreen leaves and grows four to eight feet high and wide in full sun or partial shade; unfortunately, these cultivars are difficult to find.

Symphoricarpos alba is much more available. It’s a bit wilder looking with arching branches that grow three to six feet tall. I love looking at the berries on the shrubs that I inherited at the back of my driveway. Even though that area is now walled with snow from the plow, the branches and berries rise above.

Which of these plants are you going to add to your landscape?