I am in my element now. It is winter. I like to say, whatever season is happening at the moment – it is my favorite, but truth be told, winter is really my favorite. At least for the next few months! I love the stark landscape, very little color (with the exception of black, gray, white, and browns), skeletons of trees. I get to see the unveiled character of trees. Their personality is exposed. They talk to me. But along with that starkness, it is nice to see a rare sprinkling of brilliant color. Much like a black and white quilt. Add just a few crimson patches to all those blacks and whites, and you have a quilt that sings.
A bush that accomplishes that splash of color in my “garden” is winterberry, Ilex verticillata.
I must explain why I have put quotation marks around, “garden.” I live in the mountains, in the middle of the woods. I don’t really have gardens. Things just grow, with very little guidance from me. On occasion I will plant something, or trim something, but I love natives, things that already grow in my woods.
Winterberry fits the bill. A native to eastern North America. Winterberry perhaps, would rather live in a wetland habitat, but after several years at my cabin, it is doing well for me. And doing well for the birds that enjoy its berries, and its shelter, and for insects that benefit from its nectar.
Winterberry is in the holly family. You will see in the picture below, it does not have sharp points on its leaves, but it does lose those leaves during the winter. The winterberry bush is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers are found on separate bushes, and you must be sure you have at least one male bush. for pollination, to get these beautiful berries.
Winterberry, is perfect for this season. Perfect for brightening up a gorgeous, bleak landscape. And yes, bleak is good!
Happy winter to you and yours!