At the start of autumn, the landscapes are marked by the presence here and there of colorful shrubs . On closer inspection, it’s not the flowers that catch the eye at this time of year, it’s the fruit . Some botanical families such as Rosaceae, which include the hawthorns that line our roads, are even specialists in fruiting. But they are not the only ones! Many other families have ornamental fruiting shrubs in their ranks . They are precious allies for coloring and enlivening the garden at the end of the season and they can be used as hedges, at the bottom of a bed or isolated.
Here is my personal and non-exhaustive selection of the best decorative fruit shrubs in autumn.
Ornamental apple trees
We love ornamental apple trees for their abundance of flowers in the spring, but also for the profusion of fruit that results from them in the fall. Big as cherries , edible, but only appreciated by birds, they have very colorful fruits, green, yellow, orange or ruby red, depending on the variety.
Rustic, easygoing, these decorative apple trees are not demanding. They grow, in the sun, in ordinary soil even if they prefer frank, deep, loose and cool soils.
Very famous, the mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia) is a small tree that is literally covered with clusters of small shiny red fruits at the end of the season. They persist in the tree for quite a long time and feed the thrushes. Rarer in cultivation, the Kashmir mountain ash (Sorbus cashmiriana) would go almost unnoticed in gardens, as its flowering is discreet in the spring. But that’s without counting on its superb white, milky fruits, which appear from September to November !
These two rowans are planted in any soil, cool to moderately dry, acid, neutral to slightly calcareous, but well drained. They like the sun, but accept partial shade.
Les Cornus kousa
Much better known for its large flower bracts, Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa) produces beautiful pink, lychee-like fruits. It is a hardy shrub that grows perfectly well in our climates. However, it will particularly appreciate soils rich in humus that are rather acidic, cool, but well drained than light shade in a hot climate.
It is when it is covered with its small fruits as big as currants that we understand why this shrub has been named ” the turquoise tree” ( Clerodendrum trichotomum ). Midnight blue when ripe (more than turquoise…), its fruits rest on a pink-red chalice, like pearls in their cases.
Also called “Tree of the clergy” or “Tree of luck”, it is a shrub that requires little maintenance. It is planted in partial shade or in the sun, in cool, well-drained soil. Left free, it is perfect in hedges. As a tree, it will form a remarkable tree in isolation.
Viburnums have a large number of fruit – bearing varieties, among which Viburnum opulus or Viburnum obier , much better known for its white spring flowers than for its orange-red autumn fruits . By the way, do not expect anything from the Viburnum “snowball” ( Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’), its flowers are magnificent but they are sterile and therefore do not bear fruit.
Equally interesting for its evergreen foliage and ivory-white flowers, Viburnum (x) hillieri ‘Winton’ is a real marvel in autumn when its elongated, intense red fruits appear.
Rather accommodating, Viburnums adapt to a fairly wide range of soils. It is in rich soil, remaining cool in summer, but well-drained in winter that they succeed best. In terms of exposure, partial shade is ideal.
The Callicarpa called “candy tree” is a shrub that has made its fruit its business ! It is remarkable from the beginning of autumn when its small flowers give way to a multitude of small purple balls , a very rare color in the plant world. It is at its peak in winter, when it is totally bare.
In the garden, in beds or in hedges, it is planted in the sun (this favors its fruiting) except in hot climates where it will be more comfortable in partial shade. It is a shrub of rather cool and rich soil, but a little compost and a good layer of mulch allow it to be grown almost everywhere .
In the register of bizarre and original fruiting bodies, Decaisnea fargesii stands out with funny turquoise blue pods in autumn. You won’t be surprised to learn that it is also called “Blue bean tree”! This small shrub native to China, in its appearance of a tropical plant, is well adapted to our cold climate. It presents, in spring, creamy yellow flowers which are transformed in autumn into fleshy pods containing black and flat seeds. They are surrounded by a translucent flesh with a very surprising taste (a mixture of watermelon and banana…), because, yes, it is edible !
If all these shrubs present a pretty spring or summer flowering, there is a shrub which, like the Callicarpa, presents a dazzling fructification in autumn. This is Euonymus phellomanus . This large shrubby spindle bears a multitude of candy pink fruits. They loosely release small orange-red seeds in early fall. Hardy, will do well in ordinary, humus-rich soil, not too dry to cool. Full sun or partial shade will suit it perfectly.
All these shrubs contribute to the ornamental appeal of the garden in autumn and winter, but they also play a very important ecological role. A large number of species of birds and insects feed on their berries in autumn and winter. This ecological niche is a valuable ally for the garden because it contains many predators which, as soon as spring comes, delight in snails, slugs and worms of all kinds, thus avoiding the gardener’s untimely use of products of all kinds. .