A big display of fall berries provides a striking seasonal note and also adds a range of colors, from bright red to yellow and white. In time most, except the toxic ones, will get eaten by birds. Meantime, as the fall mists descend and then lift, they will reveal beautiful clumps of tiny colored balls high up in the trees and down on the ground, attracting extra wildlife.
The best berrying trees include ash (Sorbus), which provide a range of colored fruit and several specimens that will not grow too high. The slow-growing Sorbus x kewensis only grows 2.5m (8ft) high and 2m (6ft) wide, and its late spring flowers are replaced by bright red berries.
Sorbus cashmiriana eventually grows much higher, reaching 8m (25ft), but it will take over 20 years to do so. It has white berries with a black dot or eye. If you have room for a slightly taller tree, try S. ‘Joseph Rock’, which has yellow berries that become rich in color towards the end of the fall.
Pyracantha coccinea (also known as Firethorn) produces small, bright red 0.25″ diameter berries. The fruit is bitter and astringent, making it inedible when raw. The fruit can be cooked to make jellies, jams, sauces and marmalade. Berries persist into winter for a short while. In the fall semi-evergreen foliage will bronze, turn brown and drop as the winter advances.
Many roses have outstanding hips, these include Rosa moyesii and Rosa rugosa, which make excellent hedges and have large, rich red flowers. They are disease-free, tough and hardy, and grow extremely well in sandy soils by the sea. The purple-rose flowers of Rosa moyesii start opening in early summer. The light pink flowers of Rosa macrophylla are eventually replaced by incredibly striking, long hips. The climbing Rosa helenae grows 6m (20ft) high; train some stems to dangle out of a large tree so that they clearly display their orange-red fruit.
No garden is complete without the showstopping bright-purple berries of Beautyberry (Callicarpa). The attractive, arching branches of this ornamental shrub provide berries that persist until well after the leaves have fallen. Highlight beautyberry by planting it as a specimen plant, or in front of evergreens or other solid backdrop. American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, is a taller species that grows up to 6 feet tall. This species also produces attractive lavender-purple berries in the fall.
Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’