Long, arching stems ornamented with clusters of white berries emerge from a tangle of foliage behind the koi pond. Oakleaf and mophead hydrangeas nestle tightly beside an ‘Okame’ cherry, with little space to access for maintenance through crossed branches. Somewhat worse than the typical mess in this garden, but considerable effort would be required to weed out volunteer seedlings, and why, with such delightful berries?
Here, the yellow flowered Passion flower vine (Passiflora lutea) sprawls and climbs through the hydrangeas, then far up into the cherry’s branches. In late summer, white berries of the beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma f. albifructa) seedling stand out against the mostly green background, though the white flowered ‘Tardiva’ hydrangea is nearby with blooms that are a month past their prime.
White berries of the variegated beautyberry, ‘Duet’, are slower to form, and considerably smaller than other white and purple berried beautyberries. The planted white beautyberry (not the seedling) and ‘Duet’ are just off the edge of a swale that remains damp, with standing water since mid-spring in this rainy year. Three purple berried shrubs are planted in dry shade where they grow less exuberantly, though not that you’d notice if another was not close by for comparison.
To my thinking, beautyberries are appropriately placed, to the back and edges of the garden where berries can be seen, but where the otherwise unremarkable shrub can be ignored for most of the year. Small summer flowers are pleasant, but not significant.
Evergreen and deciduous hollies are more prominently placed, and in the second year since a small male holly was planted, Winterberry hollies (Ilex verticillata) are covered in berries that are now ripening to red. A few years ago, the grove of several hollies displayed few berries, dispelling the notion that certainly there must be a nearby pollinator for just about anything. I suppose that years earlier a male was removed along with a patch of bamboo that encroached on the group of hollies, and happily, the berries of beautyberries and hollies in late September are clear evidence of the value of planting for berries in addition to blooms.