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A berry good show; Time to enjoy the colourful fruits of winter as blossoms pollinated back in the summer finally spring into action.

Byline: GARDENING With Diarmuid Gavin

AS we approach the end of the gardening year, there's still time to enjoy subtle garden colour coming into its own in winter... in the form of berries.

Blossoms pollinated in summer by insects have now transformed into bright fruits, genetically attractive so they will be noticed and consumed by birds.

It's all part of nature's way of propagating species and ensuring continuity. The birds will eat the fruit and then disperse the seeds in hopefully appropriate growing places through their waste, often intact.

Birds eat propagate This is a good example of plants and animals working hand in hand. However, before the birds get them, they offer great ornamental value to the gardener and there is a rainbow of colours that can delight those animals who appreciate gardens...

us!Red berries contrasting against dark green leaves are a sign of Christmas and its accompanying holly bushes. But for berries that will last longer, try Cotoneaster lacteus, a handsome shrub with arching branches and clusters of red berries.

With sufficient space, this is also a good choice for hedging. The more commonly planted Cotoneaster horizontalis with its almost flat, spreading branches covered in berries, is now invasive in the UK - unfortunately birds love these berries and spread them far and wide so avoid planting if you have a berries and species small plot.

With hollies, the key point to remember is that holly bushes are either male or female, but rarely both, so you need to have one of each in the garden to produce berries.

Many of the male varieties have lovely variegation such as Silver Queen, but despite its name, it is male and won't bear berries. Female varieties such as Golden King - yes, somebody was having fun with these names - need a male partner to produce berries.

Crataegus, our native hawthorn, is a good food source for thrushes and blackbirds and makes a delightful ornamental tree for the small garden.

It's also the perfect choice for tricky situations as it can tolerate damp soil, coastal winds, exposed situations and even urban pollution.

'Rosea Flore Pleno' is covered in trusses of pretty pink double flowers in May which form red fruits in winter. 'Paul's Scarlet' has much stronger coloured deep pink flowers but for the best haws, as the fruit is known, choose the eastern thorn Crataegus orientalis which bears heavy clusters of orange fruit.

If you like pink, try the fruited mountain ash, again a good- sized tree for the average small garden, and the spindle tree Euonymus europaeus, whose bright pink seeds split open to reveal an orange seed.

For training up against a wall or as a burglar deterrent, it's hard to do better than pyracantha or firethorn.

An uninteresting wall can be transformed by this easy-to-grow plant and will provide plenty of food for our feathered friends.

Crataegus It is also one of the shrubs that the Royal Society for the Protection of t Birds recommend we plant to help birds through winter, along with hawthorn, holly, honeysuckle and guelder rose.

Birds are an added treasure to any garden - I have a resident robin redbreast who accompanies me when I'm digging, waiting patiently by my side for any worms that may turn up.

They are natural pest controllers, happily consuming snails and aphids.

If space is tight or you are only able to do container gardening but you'd like some ornamental winter berries, I'd recommend skimmia and gaultheria, both compact enough for pots, which put on a good show.

hawthorn Like hollies, they are both usually dioecious, needing both male and female to ensure berries.

However, there are some self-fertile varieties such as skimmia 'Temptation' and gaultheria 'Bell's T Seedling' if you've only room for one.

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Crataegus hawthorn

Birds eat berries and propagate species with now

Cotoneaster horizontalis
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Title Annotation:News; Opinion; Columns
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 10, 2015
Words:641
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