Blues and berries

Berries of several beautyberries (Callicarpa) have turned to purple and white in recent weeks, though the variegated ‘Duet’ and two new introductions are tardy in turning. In contrast to their unremarkable, tiny summer flowers, the berries provide a long and beautiful display. Beautyberries must be planted prominently to properly appreciate their berries, but the shrubs are ordinary and green before flowering and berrying, so planting to the side or behind lower growers is best.

A white berried seedling grows above the koi pond, with long, arching branches supported by an Okame cherry. While I fully encourage a degree of wildness in the garden, this beautyberry is testing the limits. It is overdue for a severe pruning if I can somehow manage to reach branches without tumbling into the pond. Other beautyberries require only a single pruning of dead wood in late winter, but this one by the pond demands a watchful eye.

The various Blue Mist shrubs (Caryopteris) are now at peak bloom. In late spring a variegated ‘Snow Fairy’ was planted, and while it is small I am quite happy to have it in the garden again. Another, behind the seating wall by the koi pond, was lost after a long battle with an Oakleaf hydrangea. The ‘Snow Fairy’ should have been moved instead of fighting the inevitable spread of the hydrangea, and I am fortunate to have found another.

‘Snow Fairy’ will never have the heavy blooms of other Blue Mists, but now it is safely tucked into a partially sunny spot with only easily managed toad lilies (Tricyrtis) for competition. The variegated beautyberry should get a head start on growth each year, and perhaps this will not require my attention, or at least that’s the plan.

‘Sunshine Blue’ (above) has seemingly recovered from a mysterious ailment in recent years that reduced the shrub by half. With brighter foliage color than the vintage, yellow leafed ‘Worcester Gold’ (below), the blue flowers stand out even more, but all are favorites of the late summer garden.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeane says:

    I just bought my first beautyberry to plant in the garden this past week- but I was disappointed could only find Japanese beautyberry. I really did want an American beautyberry, however the nurseryman said he’s never seen one available on the supplier’s list. Do you have an American variety? (Very pleased I did find ‘chocolate chip’ bugleweed, and several other varieties new to me as well!)

    1. Dave says:

      There’s no doubt that the Japanese beautyberries are more commonly found in garden centers. They bear fruit more heavily, though I see little difference except that berries on the American native surround the stem instead of being only on the top side of branches. All the beautyberries in this garden are Japanese, or hybrids, but I can probably jam a native in somewhere since it’s likely to be stuck in the background.

      1. tonytomeo says: The Arbor Day Foundation sells American beautyberry. When I first noticed this, it was described specifically as American beautyberry seedlings. Even if they are grown from cuttings now, they would likely be from plants found in the wild. Otherwise, cultivars would be described as such. Plants that I have purchased from the Arbor Day Foundation have been very small, but very satisfactory. As a horticulturist, I prefer the small plants that get established more efficiently. If I were to purchase beautyberry, I would likely first confirm that they are American, rather than a garden cultivar, which might not be American.
        Anyway, what I am curious about is if there are any American beautyberry that are white. If not, I will likely acquire a single specimen of white Japanese beautyberry to grow with the common American beautyberry.

      2. Dave says:

        Callicarpa americana lactea is the white berried native. I occasionally plant small if that’s all I can find, but I do better with more substantial roots.

      3. tonytomeo says:

        ?! A WHITE American beautyberry?! That is RAD! I should see if Forest Farm has it.

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