For an accent or edging, shrubs are right at home

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Home grounds planted with a generous supply of ornamental shrubs are always pleasing in appearance. Also, they add value to the house, because an attractive shrub is a decided asset.

A single specimen may be set out as an accent, while a group can be combined to provide a boundary edging or to form a garden background. When a decision is to be made as to the choice of shrub varieties, consideration should be given to those that bear colorful berries.

Conspicuous berries can add vividness to green foliage in the same way that flowers do. And berries, following the earlier flowers, prolong the color -- sometimes well into the winter months. Many berries are eaten by the birds; therefore, this type of shrub is bound to attract a variety of feathered friends , with their cheerrul songs and cavortings.

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If, in addition, a feeding station or two is provided, success in bringing welcome birds to the neighborhood is virtually assured.

Different shrubs bear berries of almost every color. Some are large and showy, others inconspicuous until the leaves fall from the plant in the fall. A few of the colored fruits are practical for taking indoors for long-lasting bouquets, where their novelty will create distinctive arrangements of one or several collors. And some shrubs bear edible fruits that can be enjoyed in jams , jellies, and even pies.

When planning for the purchase of a berried shrub, consider the varieties available and make a selection for appearance as well as potential use.

Red is the most common color among shrub berries.

The honeysuckles (lonicera) are hardy shrubs suitable for specimen or border plantings. Pink flowers in May are succeeded by succulent red berries in early fall. These tall-growing plants will attract birds to feed upon the bright berries.

The rugosa rose, amenable to the salt air of the seaside, has large, red hips that in Colonial times were widely used for making rose jams and jellies. The trailing cotoneasters bear masses of brilliant red berries that provide a beautiful appearance among its glossy green foliage.

Coralberry, the Indian currant, is liked by birds, which feed upon the berry clusters that hang on the branches into the winter months.

Many of the viburnums have bright, red berries that are conspicuous and eaten by the birds. The tall cranberry viburnum is beautiful in May, with showy white blossoms. Its tart, edible (in jellies) red fruits form in late summer. The low-growing thorny barberry (berreris) is an old-fashioned shrub with red berry clusters that cling to the bare stems most of the winter.

A scarlet berry that literally covers the branches of a tall native shrub is the winterberry (ilex). Its shiny fruits are really hollylike and add a bright spot to the home grounds as soon as the foliage falls. These berries are ideal for Christmas decorations if they are not first consumed by hungry birds.

Two shrubs will provide orange or orange-red berries.

One is the firethorn (pyracantha), the berries of which form in thick clusters and remain on the branches for use as Christmas decorations. Occasional pruning will keep this shrub in compact form unless long trailers are desired as supplementary vines to cover wall areas. Since the firethorn can endure dry soil and complete sunlight, it can make an effective foundation planting, where its orange berry clusters, thick on the stem, will become subjects for admiration.

The second is the burning bush (euonymus). The orange-red berries are hidden in the fiery red autumn foliage and are not very showy even when the leaves fall. But birds find them and they seem to be favored especially by the striking and popular cardinals. There is also an evergreen euonymus vine that can be trained easily into a low shrub. It, too, has orange-red berries that provide a brilliant contrast to the dark-green foliage.

A yellow fruit, larger than a berry, is that borne by the small quince plant, once a part of many old-time gardens. Its conspicuous fruits are used for making jellies and quince preserve.

The fast-growing privet has blue berries. They appear in clusters of small hard berries that are interesting for their uncommon color. The edible-fruit blueberry (vaccinium) is a very satisfactory ornamental shrub. Not only are its berries enjoyed as a separate fruit and in pies but, in addition, its fall foliage is spectacular when it turns a vivid scarlet.

Blueberries prefer an acid soil, but will grow in an average garden soil with a mulch of peat moss or sawdust.

Purplish berries are found in huge clusters on the native elderberry bush (sambucus). Elderberries form in August and may be used for making jam when either green or in the purplish form.

Another shrub with purplish-black berries is the low-growing grape holly (mahonia). This is a shade-loving plant that will not thrive in the sun.

Among the many colored berries on shrubs, the black fruits of jet-bead (rhodotypos) are curious. They resemble beads in size, and their unusual black color makes them desirable for indoor arrangements together with yellow chrysanthemums or any other bright flower for contrast.

Berries of the jet-bead reseed readily, and many seedlings will be found springing up here and there near a parent plant. This shrub is tidy and useful as a foreground in a border for taller specimens.

One more berried shrub should certainly be considered for part of a collection. It is the snowberry (symphoricarpos). This 5-foot shrub puts forth pinkish-white flowers in June that usually go unnoticed because they are small and hidden among the leaves.

Before summer is over, berries of a pure white, waxy texture form in clusters at the tips of the branches and become food for some birds. Because the berries are succulent, they deteriorate in below-freezing weather. But until December, snowberries are showy outside and useful indoors with floral arrangements.

This shrub tends to "walk," so it is best to put it in a shrub border where its spreading habit will fill in the space between other shrubs.

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