BERRIES JOLT WINTER LANDSCAPES with bright color while offering local and migratory birds a much-appreciated snack. Traditional Christmas holly with its glowing red fruit doesn’t thrive here, but this quartet easily fills the gap.
Firethorn (Pyracantha) (pictured above): Often confused with cotoneaster, firethorn is distinguished by thorns and glossy leaves. Clusters of orange-red berries hang for months, often fermenting and turning feasting birds tipsy. New hybrids generally are more compact than species.
Cotoneaster: One of legendary nurserywoman Kate O. Sessions’ favorites, this varied family ranges from groundcovers (bearberry cotoneaster) to 6-foot-tall shrubs (spreading cotoneaster). Berries are generally bright red.
Beautyberry (Callicarpa): After leaves drop on these deciduous shrubs, brilliant amethyst berries line their bare branches for weeks in winter. Grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide.
Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia): This native is often called Christmas berry or California holly for its red berries that birds can’t resist. Grow as a shrub or small tree to 25 feet tall.