When the leaves have fallen and you are left with the prospect of bare black branches a splash of bright red berries adds color to the winter garden. “Jim Dandy” and “Red Sprite” are the plants responsible for this display. They are both varieties of holly as Martha Young explains in her article from The Master Gardeners website.
Here it is the middle of winter and there are still lots of interesting plants and landscaping features to look at. Actually in some cases winter makes attractive plantings stand out more. The distraction of leaves can hide the bones of a garden. If your garden satisfies you now, it is probably because there are evergreen plants to see in the winter. With or without snow, bare branches and evergreen branches can hold your interest and give you a reason to go outside or at least look out the window.
One plant that will attract you is Ilex verticillata ‘Jim Dandy’ for the male and ‘Red Sprite’ for the female. These plants are deciduous holly shrubs and many people call them by their common name winterberry. When they lose their leaves in the winter the outstanding feature is the mass of red berries that will last till almost spring. Only the female produces berries, but the male is necessary for fertilization. All hollies need male and female plants to produce berries.
Another plant that is attractive in winter is Gaultheria procumbens ‘Very Berry.’ Winterberry is its common name. This plant is a low-growing evergreen perennial that is suitable for slightly acidic, organic-rich soil in sun to part shade. Its height is only 8 inches and it will spread to 12 to 18 inches. Because of this small size, you may want to grow it in a container that can stay outside all winter (concrete or metal to prevent blowing over in those winter winds). You may be familiar with this plant as the small teaberry plant that grows in the forest. If you are lucky enough to find them before the animals get them, the teaberries are good to eat and they smell like teaberries. This newer plant is the cultivated variety-it has larger leaves and berries. They are also edible and taste like teaberry gum. To see this plant growing, you can visit the Warehime-Myers Mansion in Hanover. The cement urns that are on either side of the front steps contain these plants. They were planted last July and if they are successful, we will probably fill all the urns on the porch with them.