Friday, 6 November 2009

Blazing Red Berries and Fuchsia Pink Fireworks.

When we think of Autumn in the garden we think foliage, we think evergreen and we think berries.  This plant has all of this and much, much more.

Often overlooked the Cotoneaster is somewhat of a garden stalwart.   It provides everything you want in an evergreen shrub.  It has form, provides structure, year round interest and it is also very versatile.  The species pictured here in my garden, which I believe is Cotoneaster salicifolius, is particularly great. 

An example of it's versatility is apparent in my garden where it has been grown as a hedge and layered above a brick wall.  I inherited the hedge in a rather sorry state.  It was incredibly overgrown and had not received any love or attention for many years.  Branches from the shrub, dangling over the wall, had started to consume much of the precious space left within my small garden and I couldn't afford to lose any space at all.  After the discovery that there was a lovely * red brick wall under all that foliage I set about pruning the hedge back to a more manageable state.  It was only when I finished pruning that I discovered I had managed to free up a further two foot of garden.

The ability of the Cotoneaster to be used as a hedge, stand alone shrub, or ground-cover is not, however, why I value this plant so much.  I love the fact that it has something for all seasons.  It is evergreen, providing colour all year round, it has oodles of white flowers throughout Summer which provides plenty of food for insects and it has masses of beautiful berries in the Autumn/Winter which provide an abundance of food for birds, insects and small mammals.  It also acts as a place for animals to over-winter.  At present I have noticed many Ladybirds, British species not Harleqin's, beginning to set up camp here.  Other insects, too many to mention here, also use this shrub as a retreat.

I always recommend this plant, not only because of the fantastic qualities discussed earlier, but because the plant itself is so tolerant.  It is fantastically drought tolerant, able to grow in sandy soils and it will also thrive in full sun.  On the other hand it can also be grown in heavy clay soil, exposed coastal situations or moderate shade.

I don't however appreciate the company it sometimes keeps.  As we can see in the picture above it associates itself with the garish and brash Fuchsia, the plant equivalent of Vicky Pollard's shell suit.  The only problem I have is that however hard I prune it it keeps coming back and of course it does belongs to next door.

So, along the same lines of the Cadbury's Cream Egg slogan, how do you grow yours?  Have you grown Cotoneaster?  Do you have an inherent distaste for the plant?  I would love to read your comments.

* I am  aware  that the pointing on this wall is horrendous however I did not do it and I don't have the time or inclination to change it.  I like informality and will say that this is intentional or arts and crafts style!


  1. I agree with what you say about the Cotoneaster. It's a plant that looks especially good when laden with red berries in autumn. But as with any plant it's got to be used in the right setting. And I think yours above that brick wall Ryan looks really good. Don't change the pointing. It enhances the green in the Cotoneaster!

    Another Cotoneaster I must recommend is the Cotoneaster 'Hybridus Pendulus'. Looks fantastic if encouraged to grow as a small tree, with arching branches that drape to the ground, full of red berries.

  2. I love cotoneaster. We have three and they always lose their berries to the birds in the same order. Love the structure of them. I have a very lovely and delicate white fuschia, don't know what it is as we inherited it, but it has become the only fushcia I have ever really loved.

  3. I like Cotoneaster too, good value shrubs. The Fuchsia is the loud, pushy friend who never stops talking!

  4. I have a cotaneaster horizontalis planted under the living room window Ryan. Although it's a bit of a thug it's great to watch it smothered with bees in the summer. I quite admire that fuchsia for flowering its socks off so late in the day so can forgive it its colour.

  5. We are not supposed to grow Cotoneaster over her in new zealand it has become a bit of a pest as it seeds freely ... But I do have a bush - the bees love it when in flower and the blackbirds and others eat the berries in autumn ....

    We have a native substitute that is better for the environment here and indeed I have a number around the garden ... Google "Corokia cotoneaster" if interested ... may even be in your shops these days


  6. Well, fuschias are annuals in my neck of the woods so it's funny to think of them as brash. I love getting a perspective from such a different gardening environment.

  7. I love both the cotoneaster and fuchsia. I don't have a cotoneaster in my garden, but I've got plenty of fuchsias.

  8. HI Batman,
    The fuschias are to do die for. I don't know much about cotoneaster, but I will look into growing it, if it can survive our cold winters. Thanks.

  9. I'm sure I've seen photos of stunning espaliered Cotoneaster, if you have a bare wall to fill and a bit of patience. Then again, they may have been pyracanthas...

  10. I really like your Cotoneaster. It is nice to have a plant that gives all year. I love red in the garden.

  11. We have a cotoneaster outside our front door... quite a substantial shrub...nowhere near as beautiful as yours.. In fact I don't like it much at all...not sure what sort it is... looking at google images it looks either like cotoneaster cotoneaster or cotoneaster horizontalis.The berries are pretty in winter I guess.. but this summer it's covered in wasps and also 'green bottle' flies! It is literally writhing in them and because it's by the front door it's a nuisance. Anyone encountered this problem..? No sign of a wasps nest or of anything dead or dying nearby! Quite bizarre.. It's been attractive to bees in the past.. but as my daughter is getting married in 3 weeks I'd love to know what I can do about it...Don't want her walking out of the house for the last time to a swarm of wasps and flies! HEEEEELP!


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