Some late autumn colour: berries CAUTION – addendum could cause offence

Cotoneaster franchetii hedge

It was ironic that, because I am not a huge fan of cotoneasters, the first plants that were planted here in the new garden, were cotoneasters. They were not even rare or special. It was a hedge of bare-root, Cotoneaster franchetii. I chose it because it is a tough plant and I wanted a hedge that would be good for wildlife and might be able to cope with the awful soil and windswept site. It just shows how much pleasure a common plant can give because I have been encouraged by the growth of the plants and now they are covered in berries. Of course the blackbirds have not eaten the berries, presumably because I don’t want to. But there is still time.

Cotoneaster franchetii berries

The fruits on the Malus toringo ‘Freya’ are finally revealed now the purple summer leaves have changed to rich orange and finally dropped. They are small and bright and not at all like an apple. They are not especially profuse but then the tree is small. I planted two, to replace the Sorbus cashmiriana I moved after one died. I wanted a pair of trees at the front of the house and these have so many seasons of interest. Purple leaves all summer and rich pink/red flowers in spring too. So far I am very pleased.

Malus toringo ‘Freya’ apples

Malus toringo ‘Freya’ leaves

The third berrying plant is Callicarpa ‘Profusion’.

Callicarpa ‘Profusion’ berries

Callicarpa bodinieri is almost always seen as the cultivar ‘Profusion’. The main reason for this is that, from seed, the plants do not set berries well unless grown as a group whereas ‘Profusion’ is self fertile so you only need one plant to get a good crop. This Chinese shrub, introduced to the UK by Wilson in 1907, is unlike any other and although the clusters of tiny pink flowers are nothing to write home again the berries are bright and glossy, adorning the bare twigs like jewels, a phrase that is far to often used but very appropriate for this plant. The foliage turns shades of lilac over yellow in autumn before it drops.

Now, an update on chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’ that I posted about a week or so ago. I criticised it for flowering so late but here it is, after frosts and days of torrential rain, looking remarkably spritely. I would sink in the mud trying to pick some today but it shows just what a late bloomer it is.

Chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’ in full flow



May cause offence to those who need to be offended


And lastly… Anyone in the UK knows that Christmas starts when… the John Lewis advert airs.

It is as traditional as the Queen’s speech. If you are Irish and don’t understand, it is as important as the Toy Show.

I always keep ads off this blog and I certainly don’t want to upset people by criticising them but I think John Lewis have produced a good one this year. Yet there are complaints and I believe John Lewis have had to apologise because the dragon has traumatised children.

Well, to be honest, what could they put in an ad and not offend someone? It has to feature a girl or it would be slammed for being biased towards males and if they featured a real animal it would create a rush of people burning fossil fuel to go and visit them in the wild – or vegans would be in uproar at expoiting animals. CGI fantasy animals are all that are left. It could not feature anything to do with traditional Christmas or it would offend non-Christians.

Well I am sorry but if you want to be offended by vulgarity, contempt of the ordinary person, bad taste, sexism or hypocrisy go and watch Boris Johnson giving a speech or look at the Daily Express or Daily Mail.

For the rest of us, the ad is a gem and makes the day a little more magical. That is a good thing in a world that is full of horror, lies and disappointment.


If you didn’t shed a tiny tear there is no hope ๐Ÿ™‚



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12 Comments on “Some late autumn colour: berries CAUTION – addendum could cause offence”

  1. derrickjknight
    November 22, 2019 at 10:43 am #

    Our blackbirds haven’t touched our berries yet. Jacki and I both thank you for the advert which we hadn’t seen. It is wonderful. I wonder if the complainants have ever seen Bambi.

    • thebikinggardener
      November 24, 2019 at 10:44 am #

      We don’t seem to have many blackbirds in the new garden. I think it is because we are surrounded by farmland rather than gardens though there is plenty of hedges. Also I have not got the soft fruit in yet – it is still in pots – so there have not been many berries yet that I don’t want them to have! Most garden birds here are rooks and pied wagtails though I have just identified the cute little brown birds that march across the dug soil in small groups as meadow pippits which I am not aware of seeing before. It is usually described as nondescript but I find them very entertaining. They are ground-nesting and apparently the most commonly sought nest by cuckoos.

  2. Kathy Larson
    November 22, 2019 at 10:16 pm #

    Oh,that ad is lovely!

  3. thelonggardenpath
    November 23, 2019 at 12:58 pm #

    I would like to make a comment regarding your addendum.
    My sentiments entirely! And so brilliantly put! I applaud!

  4. digwithdorris
    November 26, 2019 at 8:36 am #

    Thatโ€™s rather funny.
    Nice berries

  5. tonytomeo
    December 2, 2019 at 12:21 am #

    . . . anyway . . . I hope to finally get beautyberry this winter, but would prefer the native American species. Someone mentioned that there is a cultivar of it with white berries! I had earlier thought that those with white berries were exclusively Japanese. Beautyberry is not native here. I see it only in pictures.

    • thebikinggardener
      December 2, 2019 at 4:11 pm #

      I am not sure of the point of white-berries callicarpas – a bit like white agapanthus.

      • tonytomeo
        December 3, 2019 at 3:12 am #

        If white were not my favorite color, I would not be interested in white beautyberry at all. The ‘normal’ color is so perfect for it. I just happen to really like white. I really like white agapanthus too. Except for one dwarf agapanthus, I grow only two types. The blue one is the same that I have been growing since junior high school. The white one, which I got in the early 1990s, looks just like it, but it is white. I work with smaller sorts, but will not mix them with what I have in my own garden.

        • thebikinggardener
          December 3, 2019 at 5:52 am #

          Perhaps I am being just a little hard on white agapanthus. It is just that here they are slightly tender and need a little extra care and blue is such a valuable colour in the garden and the whites just seem a little less special. In fairness at least they are a white flower that dies cleanly. I agree about the dwarf ones though – totally!

          • tonytomeo
            December 3, 2019 at 6:27 am #

            Agapanthus is such a common perennial for us. No one notices which ones are hardier than others because they all grow like weeds. Blue is the most popular because it is such a nice blue, and there are not many other nice blues. There are plenty of whites. White is sometimes used just as a bit of variety if there are too many in blue. I just happen to like white.

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