This week is my One year anniversary of this blog. I have endeavored to bring you the best plants which I can find each week which look their best. Each season has brought its challenges in doing this, the weeks of cloudy weather or rain, the color drought during the middle of summer and weather which is too icy and snowy that I can not go out to take pictures or find new specimens to write about. I thought I would start of this year with a splash of unusual color not only for this season but for in the garden. This is a plant which I was introduced to at Park & Tilford Garden while i was still in school and am alway on the lookout for it. Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’ (Beautyberry) brings a jaw dropping display of color to the garden.
There are many species of Beautyberry with most of them growing in tropical and subtropical areas. Most of them are in the form of shrubs or small trees. Several species come from more temperate areas. Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii is found in central and western China. It was collected by French Missonary Emile Marie Bodinier (1842-1901) who was a known botanist and was stationed in Peking for some time. He collected more that 3000 herbarium samples during his lifetime of which about 200 are named, Beautyberry is the most important of these.
Callicarpa are from the Verbena family (Verbenaceae) and has aromatic leaves, this makes it less attractive for Deer to browse upon. In China and Japan it has been used medicinally. The fruit of this particular species is not considered edible do to it’s poor flavor. The American form of this plant (C. americana) or French Mulberry in the past has been used to make delicious and popular jellies and jams.
Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’ was selected for its more compact growth and better crop of berries. It was awarded an AGM(Awrd of Garden Merit) in 1984. Emerging spring foliage has bronzy tints and later in the fall the leaves turn shades of madder and pink before they are shed. Leaves are elliptical with a sharp point and are 2-5in. (5-12cm) long and half as wide. Flowers are small with a faded mauve color and are not really that showy when in bloom. Bloom period is from June to October depending on where you are, here it is fairly early.
Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’ is a undemanding plant and you get several seasons of interest from it. They prefer light well drained soil which is on the acidic side. They tolerate some clay or even heavy soils as long as it is not too limey which will cause yellowing of the leaves. To produce the best berry crops Beautyberry needs full sun, but will do very well in part shade. A spot in the winter that shows it off will be fantastic. These plants are often planted in grows of 3 or 4 as this produces the best show of berries. Beautyberry plants are are used in shrub borders, mass planting, in winter gardens or a specimens.
Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’ is surprising hardy and takes -20c (-4f) easily and is rated at zones 6 through 8. Berries are not damaged by freezing. They do not do well in warm climates. Can you imagine going outside after a snowfall and seeing this bush loaded with berries… beautiful. These shrubs grow 1.8-2m (6-8ft) tall and have a slightly arching habit. They can be pruned to promote more branching and better berry crops.
More on Beautyberry:
Paghat’s page on this plant: http://www.paghat.com/beautyberry.html
Until we meet again later…