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In Search of ‘Berried’ Treasure.

Published: 5th October, 2016

PyracanthaAs we move into autumn, many trees and shrubs in our gardens undergo a marvellous transformation with berries appearing in intense shades of purple and ruby red, white, orange and gold. These exceptional ornamental plants create a real autumn showcase for us gardeners as well as providing a wonderful feast for birds.

Our favourite berry bearing shrub for this week is the highly adaptable Pyracantha shrub, also known as a Firethorn. Its Latin name is a perfect description of the plant. Pyra which means fire refers to the rich colour of its berries and cantha means thorns which the plant has along it’s stems.

The evergreen Pyracantha delivers all year round interest to your garden.  It blooms in the spring with gorgeous little white flowers which transform into berries over the summer gradually ripening to a rich fiery orange-red colour in autumn.

It’s easy to cultivate, disease resistant, has a multitude of attributes and will grow in pretty well any soil except for very heavy clay. It performs best in full sun and is very drought tolerant. Watering is only needed for newly planted shrubs. In subsequent years the Pyracantha will survive very well on its own.

The plants can get quite large growing to about 2 -3 meters tall and 2 meters wide if left unpruned so you’ll need to leave plenty of space if you want a natural look. But with regular pruning they can be maintained to a far smaller size.  When it comes to pruning Pyracantha, they do take it very well. You basically can just trim the shrub to keep it where you want it. It can be cut back into hedges and borders, into small compact trees and even trained to grow relatively flat up walls and fences. TIP: Do not give them any fertilizer after spring as this would generate a second spurt of growth which would give you lots of shiny leaves but will cover up the showy fruit later in the year!

Pyracantha is an all-round winner. Its thorny stems make it a great choice for producing secure garden boundaries, the protection of the thorns means it provides a valuable safe nesting sites for birds, the berries feed birds into winter and the spring flowers attract bees and other insects.

It really is possible to fill your borders with berried treasure this autumn!

Here are our other top picks for shrubs with colourful fruits and berries:

Skimmia – Many female varieties produce wonderful displays of berries including Skimmia japonica subsp. reevesiana, Skimmia japonica ‘Nymans’ and ‘Obsession’. Male varieties are equally appealing with great flower displays, like ‘Magic Marlot’ and ‘Rubella’.

Gaultheria Mucronata (Formerly called PERNETTYA)

Cotoneaster – wide range of berrying shrubs including Cotoneaster horizontalis, Cotoneaster ‘Coral Beauty’, C. ‘Cornubia’, C. lacteus, and many others.

Visit Henry Street Garden Centre today for Pyracantha or other evergreen species.


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