Winter Berry bushes for our Summer AND Winter Gardens…
My husband and I live in New England.
The New England winters of cold, often frigid, bare-trees stark. The winters of glorious, snowy painted white, but one-dimensional white just the same.
Of months of the same.
Enter Winter Berries.
I remember my first true experience with Winter Berries. Of course, I had seen this bush and these berries, mostly along stretches of highways and in a lawn here and there, but had never before this one day truly experienced this bush.
I was driving to the high school where I taught, a good 45 minutes north from where I lived at the time. Driving north in New England brings more cold, more wind, more WINTER to winter. It was all of this and more when I pulled into the very large parking lot of my school, very early on this very cold December morning. I was unlucky enough to get a parking spot way at the back/bottom of the lot.
I gathered my “teacher” bag and all my stuff, pulled a hood over my head and opened my car door, turning kind of half around to close the car door.
THAT’s when my eye caught a brilliant patch of bright RED settled deeply into some fall-turned-winter brown weeds off to the rear side of the parking lot. I stopped in my tracks, mesmerized by this color. This RED. I thought how lovely this color, these berries, were and how glorious they would look in my Christmas window boxes, mingled with pines and cones.
But the school bell would soon be ringing and off I went.
I told my very good friend and fellow teacher about the Red Berries deep in the weeds off the parking lot, and we headed outside at lunchtime to check them out. Well, we not only checked them out, but headed INTO the weeds (like a field trip, LOL) and broke off branches of those stunning RED BERRIES… not for study of science or botany or ecology or anything like that (anyway, I was an English/Reading teacher and my friend a Special Education teacher).
No, we ripped off some red berry branches for our respective home winter window boxes.
And the next day, we high-stepped again into those deep weeds and broke off more branches… never all the branches, because we loved the brilliant red color while driving into the parking lot, too.
We were hooked on Winter Berries, and they were absolutely glorious additions to our window boxes.
Fast forward to the next winter. The next winter. And the next winter after that. What my friend and I had discovered was that our rudimentary “pruning” had brought more and more lush RED each year.
No-one ever questioned what we were doing in those deep weeds.
Until one year, when we discovered one winter day that ALL the BERRIES were gone.
“Pruned”… missing… but for the tiny stumps of branches (believe me when I tell you that we know who did it, a person with whom we had shared our enthusiasm for those berries, oh well), and my friend and I knew that our joy in that Winter Berry had been forever compromised.
That’s when I planted my own luscious Winter Berry bushes in my own back yard. My husband and I have moved twice since then, and we planted Winter Berry bushes in the yard of our first move.
My husband and I have been in our current home going on our 5th winter (and I’ve been retired since 2003), but the thoughts and designs and work of renovations (trucks, digging, stuff like that) prevented us from really, really adding to the existing gorgeous gardens of our home.
Until this summer (all renovations complete), when I went out one day in search of Winter Berry bushes. I bought 3 females in June (no males were available at that time), planted them on the driveway side of our home and have truly enjoyed the green-ness of the little darlings.
Today, I went out on a Birthday mission (my birthday is in less than 2 weeks), and came home with these darlings… 1 very berry “Red Sprite” female and 2 male “Jim Dandy” (love this name & necessary for pollination, which is necessary for BERRIES!)…
… and this is where they will live and thrive and bring the great Joy of Red Berries all winter long during our very long New England winter…
Ah… I feel home again!