Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a native holly that drops its leaves in the fall. That’s what enables them to survive in colder climates. If your winter landscape seems dark and dreary, you will want to plant some of these shrubs where you can see their profusion of colorful berries from the heated side of your home’s windows. One way I knew that my next-door neighbor was a gardener before I ever met him, was that he had a hedge of winterberry screening his house from the road.Yes, I have a gardening neighbor! I have already given him some colchicums, and he has promised some divisions come spring. Mike tells me that winterberries grow wild on the land behind both our houses, but I have yet to see them for myself.
Planting winterberries is a good way to feed the birds in winter without filling the feeder. Many kinds of songbirds eat the berries, though my neighbor’s hedge doesn’t appear to be touched. Some say that the berries have to be frozen several times before the birds like them. If that is true, then it is not surprising that the berries haven’t been eaten, as we have had a surprisingly mild winter so far.Mike tells me the deer like to browse the tips of the branches. That’s why they are much fuller at the top, where they have grown beyond the deer’s reach. I am looking forward to seeing winterberries in the wild around here, and planting some of my own. One thing to keep in mind is that these plants are dioecious, so you need a male winterberry to pollinate the female shrubs that will bear the berries. I just might be able to get away with planting only females, trusting my neighbor’s male shrub to pollinate them. But it’s best to have a male that blooms at the same time, so maybe I will buy my own.
Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”