Now that the flowers of spring and summer have long been gone and the colors of autumn have faded and fallen, we look to the fruits for a seasonal display in the garden. The fruiting shrubs that we have on site are known more for their berries than their flowers. The Japanese holly, Japanese privet, and the beauty berry along our fence line all display small white flowers starting in the late spring. The flowers of the Japanese holly are hardly noticeable besides the swarms of honey bees that come to collect nectar. The holly and privet both display berries so dark that they appear black, while the beauty berry has a more delicate grape-purple color to its fruit. The beauty berry is also a deciduous native plant which helps to set it apart from it’s non-native evergreen counterparts. Collectively, the berries of these shrubs begin their display in August and persist throughout the winter. Another prominent berry that pops up around the garden is from the liriope. Purple spikes of flowers rise out of the clusters of grass in late summer giving way to black fruit that clings to stiff stems through the winter months.
The nandina shrub that we have in our entrance courtyard also sports white flowers in the early summer, but it’s the only plant in the garden that produces showy red berries that appear in autumn. The berries are so attractive that they are frequently used in ikebana arrangements and New Year kadomatsu displays. Many of the decorations displayed in and around the house this past weekend used the fruit and foliage of the nandina plant – both of which are quite charming.