Everyone says the birds like these, but in my garden it is the deer who strip the berries off before I can enjoy seeing their festive red against the snow. They'll be gone by Christmas, but they make a fine Thanksgiving treat right now.
These are on offer for Thanksgiving, but nobody really likes them. The birds will not touch them until late winter, either because there is nothing else left then, or because it takes that long for these fruits to mellow and become tasty. They are not a favorite but they are on the menu.
Viburnum berries (Viburnum prunifolium)
There are only a few of these navy blue fruits. This young viburnum only had a few flowers last spring, the first year it bloomed. This picture was taken in late October when the leaves were still on. Now, with all the leaves down, there are actually only a few raisin-like berries left, so this will be a rare Thanksgiving treat for just a few birds.
Holly berries (Ilex x meserveae hybrid 'Blue Princess')
Several years ago I planted four blue holly shrubs and they were supposed to be a mix of male and female. But all four have dense crops of red berries, so all four are females. They are being pollinated by another type of holly nearby, either the winterberries in my garden, which seems unlikely, or some other holly in the neighborhood. Thanksgiving is a family holiday, so we won't fuss about paternity right now.
American holly berries (Ilex opaca)
This is a newly planted female holly tree, and I am thrilled to see berries. I did plant a companion male Ilex opaca nearby, but the little sapling had just three or flour blooms this June. But that was enough. This Thanksgiving a small quantity of American holly berries are on the menu.
Dogwood fruit (Cornus florida)
They look yummy and there are plenty for this holiday. This dogwood is a pink flowering variety and it has stunning fall color that starts out mahogany purple and becomes fiery red, so it's a visual treat in many seasons. The leaves are down now, but there are still some berries left for Thanksgiving.
Eastern Red Cedar berries (Juniperus virginiana)
The tiny blue fruits are so pretty, and quite blue when photographed in shade. The junipers grow at the far end of the meadow, out back where I can't see them easily, so I don't know if cedar waxwings have found them. I have not seen waxwings, but that doesn't mean they haven't been there. I hope so. They are invited guests for Thanksgiving.
Bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica)
I did not realize bayberry is dioecious, like hollies. You need a male to pollinate the female shrub to set fruit. Apparently my bayberry is a male, because there have never been any waxy, aromatic gray berries. Alas. But I make up for it with another winterberry holly with delicious red berries right next to it. No one will starve. Although there will be no traditional handmade bayberry candles to decorate the Thanksgiving table.
No one will starve indeed. In addition to all the juicy berries, there are so many seedheads, with plenty of good things to eat on the black eyed Susans and many other perennials still standing.
Rose hips are plump and red, especially the hips on the redleaf rose, Rosa glauca, which are huge.
Cotoneaster has red berries and deep purple foliage. It is down at ground level, tucked in below a big spruce that offers protection for skittish feeders.
And I have three young native persimmons (Diospyros virginiana), which will someday produce orange globes that only a hard freeze will make edible. How I long to see those some year.
That would be excessive, wouldn't it? Already I have too much on the menu for a holiday feast for birds and rodents and deer and people.
How grateful I am for the utter abundance of my garden and the grace in my life.