form and foliage

Year round garden interest with minimal care

A Berry Happy New Year from Form and Foliage!


foliage gardening, broadleaved evergreens

California buckthorn (Rhamnus californica) ‘Eve Case’ has deep purple berries in winter.

The solstice has passed and the new year is upon us. This is supposedly the drabbest, dreariest time in the garden. To disabuse all of the belief that that must be so, we present a gallery of berries to enjoy as we wave farewell to the old year and welcome the new.

malus, ornamental fruit

‘Professor Sprenger’ crabapple is known for its lovely springtime apple-blossom pink flowers, but oh the fall and winter fruit!


‘Professor Sprenger’ fruit up close


crabapple, Malus

Even the immature fruit of ‘Professor Sprenger’ is decorative.


Berberis wilsoniae, Berberis wilsonii, ornamental berries

Wilson’s barberry berries range in color from flamingo to salmon, and contrast beautifully with the glaucus foliage.

The genus Berberis, or barberry, has some of the most ornamental berries of any group of plants. From the subtle tones of the Wilson’s barberry pictured above, to much larger, robust fruit on our native California Berberis aquifolium, these plants decorate the winter landscape. When lacquered by raindrops even the berries of the most common species, Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), are strikingly beautiful. (note: Japanese barberry is invasive in many areas. Seek sterile cultivars if you wish to add this plant to your landscape.)

American barberry, foliage gardening, ornamental berries

The berries of Berberis aquifolium (formerly Mahonia aquifolium). It’s easy to see why the common name is Oregon grape-holly!


Berberis thunbergii, berries, foliage gardening

Japanese barberry fruit on a rainy winter day.

Berries are a great way of adding purple to your fall and winter garden, and there are a variety of trees and shrubs that bear berries of regal hues.

Chilean myrtle, foliage gardening

Luma apiculata has shiny purply-black berries that last for months.


'Profusion' beautyberry

For purple punch, though, it’s hard to beat beautyberry! (This specimen is Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldi ‘Profusion’).


foliage gardening, evergreen plants

California native Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) can hold its own in a berry contest.


ornamental berries, foliage gardening

Cotoneaster berries can be very decorative, but make sure to select only non-invasive species.


foliage gardening, ornamental berries

Cotoneaster buxifolius is commonly called bright bead cotoneaster. It has an attractive low, spreading habit and wears its berries for months in winter.


foliage gardening

Sarcococca ruscifolia (sweet box) is grown primarily for its fragrant flowers, but don’t forget the ensuing berries !


Nandina domestica is overplanted, and paradoxically, under-appreciated. Try the ‘Compacta’ version for a more manageably-sized shrub. The cultivars with dramatic foliage generally do not bear fruit, so go with the old standby for winter berry interest.

Heavenly bamboo

Berries on Nandina domestica ‘Compacta’ last for months in the garden, weeks if brought inside as holiday decor.


And of course we cannot leave out the traditional holiday berry, the holly! There are many kinds of holly, most with red berries, but some have golden or yellow fruit. Some even have variegated leaves.

Ilex, foliage gardening

Holly is the traditional winter holiday berry.


So if your garden is dull on a winter’s day, put ‘berries’ on your gardening shopping list for spring. We have a tendency to buy plants when they are in bloom and most of us don’t visit nurseries during the off-season, so you need to think ‘winter’ even when you’re shopping in April. You will be rewarded when December rolls around.

Here’s to a berry wonderful 2016 from Form and Foliage!

(Note: some berries are poisonous to humans or certain animals. If you have concerns about children or pets, please read about any plants that you are considering.)







14 thoughts on “A Berry Happy New Year from Form and Foliage!

  1. Happy New Year!

  2. Really lovely colors! Thanks.

  3. Happy New Year to you guys too. May it be healthy, prosperous and filled with joy and peace.



    Nicholas Boonin 856-858-9729

  4. And the birds love all these berries! Gorgeous photos and great ideas. Wishing you all the best in 2016, Sara.

  5. Beautiful!!

  6. and a happy New Year to you and yourn including Professor Buckthorn, Purple Punch, and the whole Sprenger family, as well as Form and, not to be forgot, Foliage. And the dogs. Love your New Years display!

    Nat Boonin 7418 Spring Village Drive, Apt 302 Springfield VA 22150

  7. Berry Berry nice!

  8. Happy New Year Janice. Hope your visit to Bellingham is/was berry nice.Did you make it up some snowy peak? We enjoyed Hurricane Ridge’s 3 ft new powder snow. Which Berry veriety is poisenous to animals? Berries really do add a punch to an otherwise winter blah yard. Thanks for the delightful Blog. Lili

    • You are welcome! You should check out the toxic issue on each berry – different people have different levels of concern (Poinsettias are poisonous, yet most people have them in their homes!) and we’re not experts on this issue. Happy New Year!
      Jan and Sara

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