Nellie Stevens

Merry Berry Christmas

This time next month most of us will be in the middle of a once-yearly “pandemonium” of shopping, cooking, cleaning and getting ready in general. It wasn’t long coming at all. So this week I have decided to touch up on berries, in the garden and in our homes for Christmas time. Because there is no Christmas without berries, so Merry Berry Christmas to you!

merry berry christmas
Cotoneaster Hybridus Pendulus

There is quite an extensive collection of plants that will produce beady fruit of different colours during winter. Some, like Cotoneaster cornubia, can be quite big and will need to be planned into the garden well. This tree is a great source of colour; evergreen, and so it will be there all year round, it will also deliver on the berry front. Bright red clusters decorate the tree each winter until all the local birds find out about them. Snip a few of the branches away before your avian friends come for dinner and enjoy the striking colour in your seasonal display.

We have one growing in the centre, it is possibly the best advertisement going, and I won’t complain. If however, you are on the lookout for a smaller variety Cotoneaster “Hybridus Pendulus” should be ideal. A maximum height of about 8 feet with gracefully bowing branches will definitely satisfy even the fussiest of gardeners.


Gaultheria procumbens
Gaultheria procumbens

Add a berry plant into your front door pots and containers to sprinkle some Christmas magic. Gaultheria procumbens is a low-growing shrub with dark green, shiny foliage throughout the year and big, bright red berries just about now. It is an easy enough plant to keep, whether in a pot or in the ground as long as you provide acidic soil and dappled sunlight. In return, she will definitely add a sparkle of festive cheer to your displays. If you feel this gal is getting slightly out of hand, split it with a shovel and gift away. It could not be any simpler really.


merry berry christmas
Calicarpa bodinieri Profusion

Stepping away from the tradition of red berries I would like to suggest a deciduous shrub that is so easygoing it will mind itself. Calicarpa bodinieri Profusion is one for every type of garden and gardener. Height wise it will possibly reach up to 10 feet, and it is easily pruned and shaped. What is so special about this shrub is the fact it delivers more than just for Christmas. I will not turn my nose up at the stunning purple clusters on bare branches. They are very showy. But just before the leaves fall down and reveal all those violet delights we can enjoy it in all its autumn glory of caramels, reds, yellows and oranges. So now, the real question is why haven’t you got one in the garden yet?


Nellie Stevens blog
Nellie Stevens

The last of today is Holy. We can’t mention this plant. Whichever variety one fancies. And there is plenty to fancy. I favour a self-sufficient Nellie Stevens. She is the only Holy plant that won’t need a male to produce berries. Dark green slightly serrated leaves are stunning all year round and we all know the red berries in the winter. I was a bit afraid last year when my girl started turning yellow in the summer.






Golden King
Golden King

She was on the poor side and I fixed her with seaweed with iron food. Now I know that all her energy went into flowers and berries because she is laden with them now and has been covered with blooms earlier on in the year. Can’t wait for the berries to turn bright! You might want to have a look at another Holy or two actually.





merry berry christmas
Silver Queen

Golden King and Silver Queen are a variegated pair that will be a constant show in your garden. And who doesn’t like to have a stunner or two outside one’s door? Those two will also sort themselves out and produce berries on the female Golden King 😉







That is us with berries covered. If you only have one of those in your garden that will be enough to supply you with a good berry display for Christmas decorations for your house. Unless you go wild, and in this case, you need to start growing a healthy supply of all of the above! For now, let’s enjoy November, another two weeks and the crazy will start. But a nice crazy nevertheless.

Thank you,

Magda O’ Byrne.

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