Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii
Winter treat & autumn spectacular
There are many reasons for growing the lovely Beauty Berry, but chief amongst them must be the profusion of purple berries in winter. They are like necklaces of purple beads all along the arching branches of this hardy shrub.
The bright purple shiny berries are indeed a winter treat on the bare branches, but they become a breathtaking sight when they are contrasted against the rose pink and golden shades of the autumn foliage.
Those of us who have visited Japanese gardens in the autumn will appreciate the Callicapa’s elegant beauty to the full. Japanese garden designers love it and use it frequently in prominent garden positions.
Fluffy mauve summer blooms are a bonus on Callicarpa bodinieri var giraldii known as Beauty Berry – the common name says it all – the berries are the thing.
A graceful shrub
A graceful, arching, fountain shape of the Beauty Berry contributes to the architecture of the garden all year round. It forms a rounded shrub to approximately 2m. high by 1.8 metres wide.
Branches in full berry are wonderful to cut for vases to decorate the home, because they last so well in the vase.
Elegant value all year round
Not many deciduous shrubs can contribute through the seasons as frequently as the Beauty Berry. Spring brings purple flushed young foliage on the graceful branches; summer brings masses of mauve flowers; autumn is spectacular with shiny purple pearls glistening amongst rose pink foliage; but for me the highlight is winter when the arching branches are bare to show off necklaces of vivid purple berries to their best.
Easy & undemanding
Beauty Bush is very easy going and undemanding.
A position in 1/2 Shade, Morning Sun to Full Sun is optimum, but Beauty Bush will still perform well in less than ideal conditions.
Beauty Berry is very undemanding about soil. It will tolerate a wide range of soils, from sandy through to clay; from acid through neutral to alkaline lime soils. Ideal pH is somewhere from 5 to 7.5, but it can tolerate beyond this. It will let you know when there is too much lime by showing yellowing in the leaves. But it does not enjoy being waterlogged, and performs best in well drained soils.
As tough as old boots
The list of things Beauty Bush will put up with is long; they tolerate drought, heat & humidity, periods of dry. air pollution, rabbits and deer , sloping and windy sites.
Frost hardy. water-wise & low maintenance
Beauty Berry is renowned for being hardy, easy, low maintenance, and troubled by very few pests and diseases.
It is very frost hardy and survives degrees of frost well below -10C.
Beauty Berry is not a thirsty plant, and can tolerate dry periods well as long as a deep watering is given occasionally when needed.
There is virtually no maintenance to be done. Pruning is not required unless you wish to re-shape, as it naturally grows in a graceful arching form. Bloom and berry production is best on new growth so you are doing yourself and the bush a favour by cutting older branches full of berries for vases to decorate your home. What a sacrifice!!
How to use in the garden
Beauty Bush make lovely informal hedges or screens, or can be used as a central specimen planting. If you are making a specimen planting it is a good idea to plant two plants in the same hole, as berry production is better if you have two bushes so they pollinate each other.
The arching bushes and fine twiggy growth provide excellent nesting sites and protection for small birds such as Wrens, and so encourage birds into the garden.
– Height with flowers: Rounded arching shrub to 2 metres approx.
– Width: 1.8 metres approx.
– Position: Part Shade is considered optimum, but Callicarpa is extremely hardy and adaptable to a range of positions including Full Sun or Dappled Shade.
– Soil: Tolerant of a wide range of soil types, from sandy soils to clay. Tolerates a range of soil pH , from acid soil, through neutral to alkaline lime soils.
– Fragrance: None.
– Frost: Very frost hardy even beyond -10C.
– Growth: Deciduous shrub adorned with wonderful winter berries, lovely autumn foliage colours, summer flowers and pretty spring foliage.
– Beneficial for wildlife: Bees and butterflies are very grateful for the nectar in the clusters of flowers in spring and early summer. Their arching form and twiggy growth provide good cover for nesting birds and protection for small birds like Wrens.
– Care: Very hardy and low maintenance.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Very low on the menu choice for bunnies and deer. The berries are not poisonous, but they are very bitter, so not pleasant to eat.
– Origin: Native to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, central and western China, where they grow in woodland and mountain slopes.
– History, myths & legends: The name Callicarpa actually translates as “beautiful fruit” so the common name is no surprise. The name bodineiri honours Emile Marie Bodinieri (1842-1901) a French missionary and avid amateur botanist who collected plants in China.
Various parts of the plant are used in traditional Asian medicine to treat colds, flu, urinary disorders, bruises and internal bleeding.
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