Fruits Of Autumn
Humans and birds alike enjoy the fruits of the season. John Stoa looks at what is available for seasonal colour.
John Stoa enjoys the bounty of the season
ALONGSIDE the brilliant leaf colours of autumn come berries, fruit and hips which can more than hold their own. When I was selecting suitable apple trees for my garden in Dundee I decided that they had to be bright red as well as having excellent eating and storing qualities.
Discovery is my early, Red Devil my main season and Fiesta and Red Falstaff my late apples which all provide a fantastic display of bold colour.
It used to be believed that Scottish rowan trees were necessary to ward off evil spirits. Old traditions die out but you will still find rowan everywhere, only now they are grown for their ornamental berries and autumn colour.
For example, the common species, Sorbus aucuparia, is grown all over Scotland and has eye-catching scarlet foliage in autumn with a huge crop of scarlet berries.
The yellow, pink and white berried rowans give a longer display as birds are not in a hurry to devour them like the red-fruited types.
Sorbus Joseph Rock has yellow berries amongst scarlet foliage, Sorbus cashmiriana has white berries and both Sorbus hupehensis and vilmorinii fruits start pink then slowly change to white tinged pink. And let’s not forget holly – no Christmas home is complete without a sprig or two for decoration.
Coming down the scale in size, the cotoneaster genus grows from a small tree, such as C. frigidus, to ground cover, such as C. dammeri. They all get covered in bright red berries that last well into winter.
Berries come in all colours from the white snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus, the violet purple Callicarpa bodinieri, the deep blue-black Mahonia aquifolium to the bright orange sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides.
The fruits are displayed on a silvergrey feathery foliage that is great in maritime places as it tolerates sea spray and dry sandy soil conditions.
Another excellent evergreen groundcover plant smothered in red, pink, lilac and white berries is the Pernettya.
The berries last all winter until they get sweetened up for consumption by birds in late spring when there is precious little else for them to eat.
The plants are female so you will need a male pollinator to ensure a good crop of large berries.
The Firethorn pyracantha comes in many varieties with red, orange and yellow berries. These are produced quite prolifically on tall thorny evergreen bushes which are usually treated by pruning to grow as a wall climber.
Birds love the fruit, so although the display is short-lived it is quite stunning for a few weeks.
Finally, the outdoor ornamental grape vine, Vitis vinifera Brandt, produces numerous small bunches of black sweet grapes. It is best trained along wires on a south wall and the autumn colour of the large vine leaves is brilliant.
Sorbus Joseph Rock.