Monday, August 16, 2010


I planted this one
I generally don't buy plants I don't like.  I mean, who would do that?  Spend money on something they didn't at least like?  Not me!  So of all the plants in our various spaces around here, I can truthfully say to varying degrees I like them all.

Occasionally my emotional response to a plant will move past appreciated, rush through admired, hustle past adored and go straight to obsession.  Some plants occupy the obsession shelf for a season, some only until their invasive nature or their failure to thrive becomes manifest.  Rarely, a plant acquires obsession status that only seems to get deeper with every passing year.

Such is the case with the Beautyberry.  Callicarpa americana, sometimes called French Mulberry, first caught my eye in the piney woods of East Texas.

The birds planted this one
And this one, too
I was happy to plant one here in our Central Texas space, and happier still when it became obvious the birds were going to help out by planting a few more specimens over the years.

This one had been planted by birds in the nursery container of a yew tree we bought that promptly died after we planted it.  The beautyberry bush (which we originally overlooked) is not so picky.
I initially appreciated how these plants take cold, heat, drought and even the rare year with record rainfall all in stride.

I admired that they grow well in shade though seemingly tolerate a fair amount of sun if watered regularly.  I came to adore that they survive the occasional trim by the deer in our neighborhood (or the "keeping it out of my way" trimming of the the Dear, here at Gardenista).

But I became captivated, totally obsessed, with these plants, for their berries.

Every year I get caught up all over again, staring at the pale first berries in wonder, watching them ripen past pink through to deep purply magenta.

I stand and gaze, watching them through my windows in wonder, until the birds have eaten every last one.


  1. I can't believe I don't have one of these! I can certainly see how one would be obsessed with watching the beautiful color changes. I wonder if I can find a shady enough spot in my yard for one!

  2. Iris - I have one that gets a lot of sun but since it is in an area that gets automatically watered regularly it seems to do just fine. And most importantly, it comes with berries in your colors! Ought to look great with your house, right? : )

  3. I love American beautyberry too. I have a baby one in the lower garden but need to find space for one closer to the windows.

  4. You can go off people.
    A whole bush and only one hole in only one leaf.
    Not natural, I say.
    Do you reckon those birds can cross the Atlantic? With seeds in their crop.
    Showing off your butt :-). Nice one. And I like the glimpse of the wooden gates.
    Ah, I noticed a few fly-hopper speckles on some of the leaves. Good. I can control my envy now. I love the last picture in particular.
    Callicarpa, I'll remember that name.
    (Who am I kidding?)

  5. Pam - I took a long time discovering how key it might be to purposefully plant in a way to shape window views. I got it just right in a couple of spots, anyway. Something with late summer/fall interest can be key and beautyberry fills that niche nicely. Maybe your birds will get a few new plants started for you.

    Jo - you have nothing to be envious about here. Seems I recall you being awash in snowdrops and splashes of color from irises that I've had little to no luck with here. I'm battling grasshoppers and deer - they just haven't messed with the berry bushes. Yet. No matter where you garden -its always SOMEthing...yes?

  6. So glad you're able to get into your garden again!

    Your cardinals, phoebes, wrens, robins and mockingbirds love you beauty berry plants too. It's one of my favorites but requires some water and babying to survive our tough Hill Country terrain. So mine are up close to the house, which is even better for the cats to birdwatch through the windows.

  7. Watching our cats watch the birds is one of my favorite activities. Especially this one very cheeky hummingbird who will hover outside a patio sliding glass door, about a foot away and another foot above cat eye level, fanning his tail and challenging both cats to a face off. It is all very exciting.

  8. My Mother would say that there is no name for the color of beauty berry fruit. It just falls in between all known colors.

    I have two that are growing by my biggest pond. It makes it look a little Japanese I think.

  9. Hey Bob - good to see you here!

    Your Mother may be where you get your smarts... I think you are right about the Japanese look to them. The way the branches drape fills whatever space they are given very artistically.

  10. Hi Deb,
    I love your Beautyberry shrubs. I would love one but I've read they don't like my zone 4 climate. Bummer!

  11. Hey there G. Lyn, thanks for dropping in. I get what you're saying - I feel the same way when I read a post about some amazing restaurant in a city I'll probably never get a chance to visit. That said, there are cooler clime loving plants I'd love to try but they'd never survive our summertime temps.


About Me

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.