Archive for ‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly

Berries for Fall

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, my garden, native plants, Shade Gardening, Shade Shrubs, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2013 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst'‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma

For fall and winter ornamental interest, you can’t beat berries.  They are incredibly showy and last much longer than flowers.  They attract birds to my garden when they come in flocks to feast on the bounty—sometimes sooner than I would like.  And this year seems to be the best year ever for fruit production.  All my berry producing plants are loaded.  Is it because of all the rain we had this summer?  Or does it portend a hard winter like the presence of lots of acorns?  Who knows, but I am enjoying them and want to share some of my favorites with you.


Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite'‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata


Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite''‘Red Sprite’


Winterberry holly is a must for fall interest.  It is a native deciduous holly that grows in sun to part shade and is salt and wet site tolerant.  Just remember that like all hollies, it requires a male and female plant to produce fruit.  ‘Red Sprite’ is more compact than most winterberries at five feet tall and four feet wide, it never needs pruning.  My plants drape down over the wall of one of my terraces and are stunning this time of year.  ‘Red Sprite’ produces more profusely than most winterberries, and its berries are larger and very showy.  Unfortunately the robins know this too, and they sweep in and strip the bush in one day.


Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst'‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry


Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst'The fruit clusters of Callicarpa dichotoma, an Asian native, are held away from the branch on a stalk, whereas the fruit of C. americana (photo below) surrounds the branch.


The fruit of beautyberries, both native and non-native, is such a striking purple color that it stops people in their tracks.  I have written about ‘Early Amethyst’ before in Woody Plants for Shade Part 3 so you can go there for all the details.  ‘Early Amethyst’ is a much more fine-textured plant than the American native and fits well in a mixed border.  In the last few years, I have cut my plants back to 12 to 24″ in the spring, and they have grown back to produce a 5 to 6′ plant with a beautiful habit (see top photo).


Begonia grandishardy begonia, B. grandis


Begonia grandishardy begonia


No, hardy begonias do not produce fruit.  But the persistent seed pods and pink stems remain quite ornamental after the flowers drop off.  They decorate my whole back hillside.  For more information on hardy begonias, read this post Hardy Begonias for Fall Color.


Crataegus viridis 'Winter King'‘Winter King’ green hawthorn, Crataegus viridis


Cratageus viridis 'Winter King'‘Winter King’ hawthorn


I have had my ‘Winter King’ hawthorn for over 15 years, and it has never produced like this.  It has a prime position outside my living room windows, and the view is amazing.  Green hawthorn is a native plant adaptable to many locations and soil types.  ‘Winter King’ is said to reach 30′ tall and 25′ wide in sun to part sun, although my mature plant is smaller.  In the spring, fluffy white flowers cover the tree, and its silver bark is also attractive.  ‘Winter King’ is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society gold medal plant.  For more information, read the PHS write up.


Callicarpa americanaAmerican beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, it is difficult to get a good distance shot of the fruit when the leaves are still on.  However, they will drop shortly and the berries will persist.


Callicarpa americanaThe fruit of American beautyberry surrounds the branch.


I have been looking for American beautyberry to add to my garden for almost 20 years and just installed three shrubs last fall.  Although I have the Asian variety and like it, there is something about the color (blackberry purple?) and placement of the larger berries on the American variety that I find more attractive.  As with a lot of North American plants, it is less refined and bigger than its Asian counterpart so not suitable for a mixed border.  For more information, go to Woody Plants for Shade Part 9.


Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii Amethyst‘Amethyst’ coral berry, Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii, I must have taken 25 photos in an attempt to show you how beautiful this shrub is even from a distance but could not get one that does it justice.


Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii 'Amethyst'‘Amethyst’ coral berry


New to me this fall, ‘Amethyst’ coral berry has everything I am looking for in a shrub.  It is a cross between two Pennsylvania native shrubs, and it grows to 3 to 5′ tall with a similar spread in part shade but is full shade tolerant.  It is deer resistant and the gorgeous and unusual bright pink berries are attractive to birds.  For more information, go to Woody Plants for Shade Part 9.


I have highlighted just a few of the plants that are making my fall garden as enjoyable as my spring display.  Enjoy the remaining warm days of fall and pray for rain.  Meanwhile, all new plantings and drought susceptible established plants should be watered deeply twice a week.



Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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Nursery Happenings: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed for the winter.  Look for the 2014 Snowdrop Catalogue in early January.

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Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

A Few Fall Favorites for Foliage and Fruit

Posted in evergreen, Fall, Fall Color, landscape design, Shade Gardening with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Italian arum, Arum italicum, goes dormant during the summer and comes up again in September so it is pristine in the fall and through the winter.  All photos were taken at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens this week.

“A Few Fall Favorites for Foliage and Fruit” was inspired by an article in a gardening magazine talking about dressing up your fall garden with mums because everything else is finished and the garden is looking tired.  Reading this sent me rushing for my camera and out the door to prove them wrong (I have a similar response to shade gardening articles that start: “Now you can’t have color in the shade, but….”).  In fact, my indignation has inspired a three-part post, the other two will cover flowers and hostas that look good in fall.  And none of the plants I am highlighting are relying on fall leaf color yet.  So here is some of what is fresh and beautiful in my shady gardens right now:

‘Brigadoon’ St. John’s Wort, Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’, has gorgeous gold foliage all season.  With the onset of cold weather, it will take on peachy hues.

‘Caramel’ coral bells, Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’, displays its lovely colors 365 days a year.  The native Heuchera villosa cultivars, including ‘Caramel’, ‘Citronelle’, ‘Bronze Wave’, and ‘Frosted Violet’, are the best coral bells for our area and remain colorful through winter.

‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, really comes into its own in the fall when its cascading yellow-variegated foliage shines in full shade.

The foliage palette for shade has been enlarged by the recent introduction of foamy bells, x Heucherella, which is a cross between native foamflower, Tiarella, and native coral bells, Heuchera.  This is ‘Solar Power’.

One of the many things I like about hybrid hellebores, Helleborus x hybridus, is that their evergreen leaves stay pristine through whatever summer throws at them.

The evergreen leaves of Christmas rose hellebore, Helleborus niger, are also lovely in the fall.

The leaves of ‘Black Scallop’ ajuga, A. reptans ‘Black Scallop, become darker and darker as fall progresses, ending up a deep mahogany.

‘Diana Clare’ lungwort, Pulmonaria ‘Diana Clare’, is another plant that can take whatever nature dishes out—it shines in full shade.

Unlike deciduous ferns that hit the decks in September, evergreen ferns are just getting going, here tassel fern, Polystichum polyblepharum.  To read my article on evergreen ferns for shade, click here.

The foliage of ‘Wolf Eyes’ kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’, is beautiful all season, but I especially appreciate it in the fall when other leaves are tattered.

‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’, is my favorite of all the native winterberry cultivars because it has a compact habit and produces copious amounts of very large berries.  For more information on this great shrub, click here.

Our native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is in full fruit right now.

The striking bright purple berries of ‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’, march evenly down the stems of its beautifully cascading branches.  For more information and a close up photo, click here.

I grow my tea viburnums, Viburnum setigerum, in the shade of massive 150-year-old London plane trees, but it doesn’t stop them from producing their spectacular bunches of shiny red fruit.

The foliage and berries highlighted above, along with many I did not include, make my fall gardens a showplace for my customers and a relaxing retreat for me.  They do not require any dressing up for fall because they are already fully clothed.


Stay tuned for Part 2, A Few Fall Favorites for Flowers, and Part 3, Hostas for Fall.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: Orders for woody shade plants will be accepted until  midnight on Wednesday, October 5.  Click here for the catalogue.  Our final fall open house sale will be on Saturday, October 8, from 10 am to 2 pm, and Sunday, October 9, from 1 to 3 pm.  Remember you can make an appointment to shop 24/7 by sending me an email at  The nursery closes for the year on October 16.

Woody Plants for Shade Part 3

Posted in evergreen, landscape design, native plants, New Plants, Shade Shrubs, shade vines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

‘Winter’s Joy’ Fall-blooming Hardy Camellia

My nursery specializes in herbaceous flowering plants for shade.   However, although no shade garden is complete without trees, shrubs, and vines, our local nurseries seem to ignore woody plants for shade.  To fill this gap, I offer my customers shade-loving woodies from a wholesale grower whose quality meets my exacting standards.  As in Woody Plants for Shade Part One and Woody Plants for Shade Part Two, I thought my blog readers who are not customers might be interested in learning about the woody plants that I would recommend they add to their shade gardens.  And doing an article in addition to the customer offering allows me to add more information so customers might be interested also.

This summer was tough on plants.  I lost several shrubs that I planted this spring.  That is why fall is the best time to plant.  The soil temperature is elevated for good root development through December, but new plants don’t have to contend with scorching temperatures, severe drought, or an excess of rain.  The plants that I add in the fall are always the most successful in my garden.

Included in my offering are three evergreen shrubs, five deciduous shrubs, and one vine.  Of the nine plants I have chosen, three are native.  Please read my article My Thanksgiving Oak Forest to see why I think planting native plants is crucial to our environment.  My article New Native Shade Perennials for 2011 explains why I think native cultivars are valuable native plants.  With that introduction, here are the plants I am offering highlighted in green:

The fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Snowman’ shines in the winter sun.

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I love camellias, especially fall-blooming varieties.  There is nothing like going outside on a cold November or December day and being greeted by large showy flowers backed by gorgeous evergreen leaves.  Camellias really light up the shadiest parts of my garden during the time of year when flowers are most appreciated.  For more information on and some beautiful photographs of fall-blooming hardy camellias, see my articles Fall-blooming Camellias Part 1 and Fall-blooming Camellias Part 2.

‘Winter’s Snowman’ blooming in December

In a very shady place on the terrace outside my front door, I have a ‘Winter’s Snowman’ fall-blooming hardy camellia.  At maturity, it will reach six feet.  Its semi-double white flowers glow when displayed against the glossy evergreen leaves in November and December.  It is a vigorous plant with a narrow upright habit.  Although it is fully hardy in our area, I have sheltered it from winter sun and our winter winds, which come from the northwest.

‘Winter’s Joy’ fall-blooming camellia

In a similarly sheltered and shady location outside my back door along the path to my compost “pit”, I have planted another fall-blooming camellia.   ‘Winter’s Joy’ fall-blooming hardy camellia has semi-double, fuchsia-pink flowers elegantly displayed against glossy evergreen leaves in November and December.  It is a vigorous plant with a narrow upright habit, reaching six feet at maturity.  Right now both these fall-blooming camellias are covered with buds.  I can’t wait for the display to begin.

‘Winter’s Joy’ is loaded with buds just waiting to produce its showy flowers, and look at that immaculate foliage.

I really like leatherleaf viburnums.  They are evergreen, deer resistant, grow in full shade, have lovely flowers and foliage, and are big enough to screen unsightly views.  The plants I have in my garden are the straight species Viburnum rhytidophyllum and that’s what I intended to offer to my customers.  However, when I saw ‘Dart’s Duke’ lantanaphyllum viburnum (what a name!), V. x rhytidophyllum ‘Dart’s Duke’, and did some research, I realized it is a superior plant for foliage, flowers, berries, and vigor.   A comparison of the nursery stock confirmed this.

‘Dart’s Duke’ showing its majestic leaves and reblooming to produce some of its very large flowers for fall.

‘Dart’s Duke’ grows to 8’ tall by 8’ wide in full sun to full shade.  It has very large, 6 to 10”, showy white flowers in May and can rebloom in the fall.  The flowers are followed by very nice red fruit.  The beautiful, clean dark green, leathery evergreen foliage is deer resistant and winter tough.  It is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant for 2012, one of only four plants honored.

‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry is dispalying its amazing purple berries right now at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

‘Early Amethyst’ beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’,  has attractive pink flowers in spring.  But the real show is in the fall when huge amounts of unbelievably colored purple berries run down the center of the beautifully layered branches.  When the leaves drop, the persistent berries are even more showy though they are attractive to birds.  Beautyberry reaches 4’ tall by 4′ wide in sun to part shade and is deer resistant.  I have grown this plant successfully in part shade for years.  If desired, it can be cut back in spring, but I usually leave mine alone.  Beautyberry is a Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal Plant and Missouri Botanical Garden Plant of Merit.

Paper Bush, Edgeworthia chrysantha

Paper bush, Edgeworthia chrysantha, is a rare and unusual shrub that has just been discovered by collectors within the last few years.  However, it has so many great ornamental features that it is sure to become very popular.  Its very fragrant clusters of tubular bright yellow flowers bloom from January to March.  The buds, which form in the fall, are as ornamental as the flowers.  They remind me of the tassels on the corners of Victorian pillows.  Paper bush has an elegant and symmetrical upright, branching habit, growing to 6’ tall in part to full shade with protection from winter winds.  It is an exquisite and rare shrub that is ornamental 365 days of the year in my garden.

The buds of paper bush are ornamental all winter.

The unusual fragrant flowers of paper bush

The flowers of ‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea start out a lovely pink and mature to a bright maroon.

‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea, Hydrangea serrata ‘Preziosa’, produces numerous lovely pink, small, mophead-like flowers in June and July, which darken with age to a gorgeous maroon (see link below for photo).  The flowers are reliably pink and don’t turn blue.  The beautiful burgundy fall color of the leaves and stems only adds to the show.  ‘Preziosa’ reaches 4’ tall and wide in part to full shade.  The Hydrangea serrata species is one that thrives in full shade.  Unlike many hydrangeas, ‘Preziosa’ is very tolerant of the cold temperatures in our zone 6.  For a raving review of ‘Preziosa’ and more cultural information (note that the winter protection recommended is for zone 5), click here.

The leaves of ‘Preziosa’ sawtooth hydrangea have already started to turn burgundy.

This photo shows the berries on my ‘Red Sprite’ winterberry holly right now—they get much larger as the season progresses, but the show is already breathtaking.

One of my all time favorite native plants is winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata.  It grows wild all over the island in Maine where my family vacations and is always covered with berries in the fall.  Here in Pennsylvania, my preferred winterberry holly cultivar is Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’.  It produces copious amounts of very large red berries on relatively compact plants that never need pruning.  The birds love the berries too, but they leave enough behind for it to remain extremely showy late into the winter.  ‘Red Sprite’ reaches 5’ tall in sun to part shade and is wet site and salt tolerant, and deer resistant.  All hollies require a male pollinator, in this case ‘Jim Dandy’, for good fruit set.  Winterberry is native to the entire eastern half of North America, including Pennsylvania.

The flowers and foliage of native ‘Cool Splash’ southern bush honeysuckle, Diervilla sessifolia ‘Cool Splash’

‘Cool Splash’ southern bush honeysuckle is a native shrub whose bold green and white variegation really stands out in the shade.  Its honeysuckle-shaped yellow flowers appear in July and August with rebloom in the fall.  ‘Cool Splash’ grows to 4’ tall and wide in sun to part shade.  It is tough, cold hardy, and deer resistant, and integrates well into perennial borders.  This species is native to the southeastern U.S., but a closely related species, D. lonicera, is native to Pennsylvania.  It is one of four plants honored with a gold medal by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 2011.  Nan Ondra at the blog Hayfield has written an excellent profile of this native shrub (with many photos), click here .

In late spring and early summer, ‘John Clayton’ trumpet honeysuckle is covered with these delightful tubular yellow flowers attractive to hummingbirds.

I love vines, and one of my first acquisitions was the native ‘John Clayton’ trumpet honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton’.  It is my most vigorous trumpet honeysuckle vine, completely covering the lattice under my deck.  Its bright yellow tubular flowers are beloved by  hummingbirds in late spring and early summer and  rebloom through fall, forming attractive red berries.  ‘John Clayton’s’ semi-evergreen, bright green leaves remain attractive through the season.  It reaches 10’ in sun to part shade.  It is deer resistant and very low maintenance.  Trumpet honeysuckle is native to the eastern U.S., including Pennsylvania.

I grow most of these plants in my gardens so I know you can’t go wrong by adding them to yours!  If you are a customer, see Nursery Happenings below for details on how to order these wonderful shade plants.  If not, now you have some plants to ask for at your local independent nursery.

For a great video demonstration of how to plant a shrub put together by my cousin, Jay MacMullan, at the blog Landscape Design and Gardening Resource Guide, click here.


Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: Orders for woody shade plants will be accepted until  noon on Thursday, September 29.  Click here for the catalogue.  Our final fall open house sale will be on Saturday, October 8, from 10 am to 3 pm.  If you can’t make it because of Yom Kippur or other reasons, remember you can make an appointment to shop 24/7 by sending me an email at


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