It has been my ambition to have red fruits adding to our garden’s fall and winter appeal, particularly in the shade garden in back.
My main plant for achieving this goal was supposed to be Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum). On this score, the effort was a complete failure, mainly because squirrels eat all the fruit in late summer as soon as they get a hint of red. Apparently they have not read that the fruit is supposed to be unpalatable until after a freeze or two, though squirrels are not known for their delicate palates.
(Though I should point out that otherwise Cranberrybush Viburnum is still an admirable shrub.)
It’s still possible to find red fruits in our garden, however. Except that you have to look down, not up.
Most notably, we have the red berries of Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum racemosum). This is a handsome plant with frothy white flowers in spring. My only complaint is that the arching stems tend to flop with the weight of the ripe berries, despite my attempts to provide discrete assistance.
This year, though we did manage to avoid total floppiness.
There’s also a close cousin of Solomon’s Plume, Starry Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum stellatum). This is a shorter plant, not quite as elegant, but without any floppy tendencies.
Earlier in summer, Starry Solomon’s Plume berries are green with interesting dark stripes.
The spring flowers are attractive. I should make clear that both of these plants are best in the shade garden.
There are some other plants with red fruits in the garden. Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) has red berries but songbirds eat them by early September, so no winter interest there. I don’t begrudge the songbirds, this is partly why I planted Spicebush. The ‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapple has long-lasting red fruits most years but this year it had almost no fruits at all.
Also, this year I added a couple of Red Chokeberries (Aronia arbutifolia). They’re still quite small, though, so I’m waiting to see how they do.
Do you have favorite plants for red fruits lasting into fall and winter?