• Saul Abbott


Updated: Nov 3, 2019

As the garden’s high usage months come to an end and the abundance of flowers is on the wane, one might think that there is little left, bar the last few Dahlia’s and the odd Nerine, to enjoy.

Our belief that there is little to alleviate the dreaded feelings of winter’s onslaught can be assuaged, however, by a greatly underappreciated element of the garden; the humble berry.

Although for millennia berries were put to good use across many cultures, be it in food preparation, medicine or as fabric dyes, amongst other applications, certainly in our culture today they are viewed as not much more than bird food, as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop.

As a garden designer who believes that every month of the year should have plenty to offer in the garden, I think that the berry offers a great opportunity to not only prolong seasonal interest but also to tie-in accent colours that may have been used in the garden design. Afterall, they come in a rich array of colours, some even consisting of more than one. Although I don’t know of any gardens that have been designed around berries, for they’re not particularly abundant at many other times during the year, they can be a key feature over the colder months and due to the position of the sun in the sky, appear as colourful and as striking to the eye as the most vibrant flowers are at other times of the year.

Although the majority of what we call seeds are actually fruits enveloping the true seed of a plant, we use the term seed or seed head to identify that which is usually left over after the flowering part of its cycle has finished. What we refer to as seeds might also be referred to as fruits, hips, pods, husks or berries.

Here are a selection of my favourites that are as common in our gardens in the UK and, therefore, as easy to grow, as a rose or a birch.

Top left to top right:

Clerodendron Trichotomum, Euonymus Europaeus, Rosa Canina

2nd row, left to right:

Lunaria Annua, Callicarpa Bodinieri

3rd row, left to right:

Malus x Zummi 'Golden Hornet', Arbutus Unedo

4th row, left to right:

Solanum Pseudocapsicum, Symphoricarpus x Doorenbosii, Viburnum Opulus

Bottom row, left to right:

Berberis Thunbergii, Pyracantha 'Orange Glow'

So in future, whether you're a garden designer looking to add something special to a garden during the colder months or a gardener who would like to see some colour against the grey skies of winter, whilst also playing your part in providing food for the birds, consider the under-appreciated stalwart of the autumn and winter garden; the humble berry.


Designing out of Sevenoaks, Kent