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Christmas is about to take centre stage and it's good for the soul to rejoice in positive sights, sounds and celebrations. So let's not forget those that are taking place all around, unaided by LEDs. Nature has its own #festivedisplay which doesn't need to cycle through various flashy patterns in order to impress. What's more, berried bushes are for life, not just for Christmas. There are many wild creatures that depend upon the feast during deepest, darkest December.
Here are six of the brightest and berry best berries don't miss their festive glamour!
At this time of year the bare branches of this charming shrub are adorned with the most amazing technicolour berries in red and pink, splitting open to reveal bright orange seeds. These really are the berry best. There's really nothing quite like this dazzling delight that acts like a beacon on the woodland edge. It's a great shrub for a garden too, as there are several cultivars, such as E. 'Red Cascade, that have been bred not only for the best berry colour but also for its autumn leaf display too.
This charming shrub has red or yellow berries which are loved by birds. Some, but not all, forms of this versatile plant are considered to be an unwanted pest as they tend to spread over the garden wall and escape into the wild. This is because the berries are so delicious and birds scatter the seed all around. This doesn't detract from the fact that it's an uplifting sight for our winter-weary soul, particularly Cotoneaster lacteus and C. Cornubia which can retain their red berries through even the heaviest frost and snow.
Skimmias (above) are splendid evergreens that are true stars of the borders and outdoor pots during December and January, providing glossy foliage and luscious berries like Christmas tree baubles. In fact, these are shrubs with a multi-season display. Their winter berries are undoubtedly their berry best asset and it's rare to find a compact shrub which is robust, disease-free, beautiful and prickle-free. Just make sure you buy a male and female plant as the female generally needs a male nearby in order to produce the best berries. See, men ARE useful.
probably the best-known species of the month. There's even a song about it. Holly berries are the hallmark of winter and when set against its glossy green or variegated foliage, there's nothing that shouts as loudly.
Loved by birds and by florists and festive decorators, it's hurrah for holly all winter long.
Sorbus aucuparia, the rowan or mountain ash (above). The Sorbus genus includes many superb berry-producing trees that are top bird attractions for early winter. The rowan trees are manageable, small and rather dignified, being adorned in berries as soon as autumn commences. They are generally stripped bare by Christmas, so enjoy a feast for the eyes before it becomes a treasured meal for birds. The red berries are always the first to be snapped up, but there are pink, orange and yellow berried varieties too.
usters almost like mini bunches of grapes. What's more, they will hang around for ages. Birds do like to eat them but they are a winter dessert rather than main course and they tend to be left until later.
Berries, fruits and blooms happening behind closed doors too
Many indoor plants spring into life in December. Here's our round-up of some of the best uplifting house plant sights:
Pendulous, luscious lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit and 'limequats', growing indoors during our cold, dark days, give a boost to the spirits. These plants generally flower during winter too, and the fruits can subsequently take up to one year to ripen. They need warmth and light. Conservatory living often suits them very well, but they do like high humidity if you can manage it.
The popular winter cherry, Solanum capsicastrum, is another bright light for December.
It's often called the mini orange tree as the berry best fruits look rather like tiny oranges. If kept in a cool indoor position, the berries of this house plant will stay red and orange for many weeks to come.
includes the pineapple. The majority of bromeliads are epiphytes and this means they grow in the wild on other plants and rocks, rather than in the soil. The long-lasting flower bracts look unreal and last for up to six months. Once the bloom has faded, the mother plant will produce little pups and these will make a new generation of bromeliads, even though the parent plant will die.
There are house plant flowers bursting into life everywhere. Take Clivia, for example.
Clivia have strappy, glossy leaves and charming tubular winter flowers in shades of apricot, orange, yellow and red. They originate from South Africa and certainly bring a touch of the exotic to homes in deepest, darkest December, through to January and beyond.
Their tubular, bell-like blooms appear just when we need them the most, in colours of luscious white, yellow, orange, pink, red and purple. Absolutely top banana!
Enjoy all the colours of the season, especially the flowers and berries.