Plants with colourful fruit or berries are a great way of introducing an extra burst of seasonal interest within the garden and are especially useful at times of the year when some flowering plants are looking less than their best. Whether it’s an autumnal blaze of vibrant pyracantha berries, some late-season interest with the much-loved crab apples or the fabulous fruit of the strawberry tree, you’ll find there are plenty of options available for adding some extra visual zing.
Best of everythingViburnum tinus has to be one of the most popular hardy garden shrubs around, providing permanent structure with its tough evergreen foliage and attractive growth habit. ‘Gwenllian’ (pictured) is an especially popular cultivar for the small- or medium-sized garden, reaching an eventual height and spread of about 1.2m and producing a stunning display of pinkish white flowers in late winter, followed by a profusion of attractive blue/black berries. Good in most garden conditions.
Golden wonderMalus x zumi ‘Golden Hornet’ is a favourite crab apple of many gardeners, providing a fabulous display of showy white flowers in spring followed by a profuse crop of attractive, rich-yellow fruits that last well into winter. Its compact habit makes it an ideal candidate for where space is limited and its tolerance of most garden conditions make it a useful choice for many situations. Prefers moist, but well-drained, soil – and a spot in full sun will ensure its eye-catching fruit is displayed to its best advantage.
Incredible edibleOrnamental and useful, the self-fertile ‘Pepino El Camino’ rewards on both fronts producing large egg-shaped fruits that turn pale yellow, with attractive purple stripes when ripe. This vigorous plant resembles a tomato vine, reaching a height and spread of approximately 1m and prefers moist, but well-drained, soil, in a sunny spot. Flowers in spring and summer are followed by a heavy crop of fruit from December until the first frost.
Hot stuffIf you fancy a glorious burst of hot autumn colour then look no further than the long-popular pyracantha with its stunning display of showy berries in shades of red, orange or yellow. Best grown as an espalier against a sunny wall, this extremely hardy evergreen shrub is also good for providing extra security along vulnerable boundaries with its spiny branches. ‘Orange Glow’ is an especially attractive cultivar with rich-orange berries and white flowers in spring (much-loved by bees) or for a yellow splash of autumn berries look to the equally attractive ‘Shawnee’.
Keeping busyThe much-admired strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is a dense evergreen Mediterranean shrub with attractive dark-green glossy foliage and white bell-shaped flowers. Its real party trick, however, is the clusters of attractive red/ orange strawberry-like fruit that appear once the weather starts to cool. Left unchecked it may eventually reach a height of up to 10m (though judicious pruning will keep it at a smaller scale). The fruit is edible (if a little bland), but it’s usually grown as an ornamental specimen. For best results plant in full sun in moist, but well-drained, soil.