In my enthusiasm showing off the red berried hollies last week I failed to mention the shiniest, reddest, and most abundant berries in the garden. One of my favorite plants is the common, but beautiful, nandina (Nandina domestica), sometimes called heavenly bamboo for its bamboo-like stems and foliage. I have planted several handfuls of nandina cultivars, but most have only scattered few berries (if any at all).
Each stem of the tall growing Nandina domestica has a large bunch of berries that turns to red in early autumn, and then slowly fades through the winter months. Though they are noted as a food source for birds I find that they are eaten only reluctantly, so that most berries remain at winter’s end.
The clusters often become so heavy that the stems arch under their weight, and after a wet snow it’s not unusual for a six foot stem to bend to touch the ground. When the snow is shaken free the stems usually bounce back to their original shape, but with a heavy snow I’ve sometimes been forced to cut off the berries, and then they spring back.
I’ve planted a dozen or more of the tall growing nandinas in part shade and full sun, and unsurprisingly the heaviest berry set is on plants growing in the sun. Each berry cluster has several dozen berries (or more), and on a large nandina there will be eight or ten clusters, so that today there are thousands of bright red berries in the garden. And not only on hollies.