Will there be enough berries to go round?

Having just done a post about the lack of bees to pollinate our fruit bushes and trees has led me to wonder how the birds will manage this winter. If there weren’t enough bees to make our fruit, would there have been enough bees to pollinate all the flowers that make the berries in the garden – will there be enough berries to go round when winter arrives?

The red and orange berried pyracanthas have some berries on them, but not as many as previous years.

Pyracantha berries


Thr purple berberis at the front of the house is covered once more with its matching red berries. Last winter they were soon polished off by visiting redwings.


We have a few Hawthorn trees growing round the garden, probably from seed deposited by the birds, so far there are plenty of berries on them. We have seen blackbirds feeding here and now the only berries left are at the very tips of the branches where the blackbirds can’t reach because of their weight.

Lonicera nitida

Not many berries on the Lonicera hedge in front of the kitchen window this year. Had to really look hard for some to photograph.

Leycesteria formosa

No shortage of berries where Leycesteria formosa is concerned, the bushes are dripping with them. Too many seedlings are springing up in the garden, thanks to the birds again!

Rosa Wedding Day

Rosa Wedding Day has managed to make a few hips, but not very many unfortunately. This was planted to mark our daughter’s wedding 12 yrs ago and is climbing one of our ancient ash trees in the back garden.

Rosa glauca

Rosa glauca on the other hand is covered in berries, no shortage here, the bees must have been out and very busy when this rose was flowering!

Arum italicum marmoratum

Arum italicum marmoratum show where they are by producing these wonderful spires of berries. The seed is spread by the birds but also I believe by slugs!!

Osakazuki seed

Not berries I know, but Acer Osakazuki seed has got its autumn tints and I’m sure will be eaten by something.

Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens

Following on from its lilac coloured flowers, Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens produces berries exactly the same colour as its foliage. Does anything see them I wonder, hiding down among the strap like leaves?


The honeysuckle which I thought was dead because all the leaves dropped off in the ‘summer’, has managed to produce a few berries, nowhere near as many as usual. Is this a last ditch attempt to reproduce itself, we will have to wait and see if it sprouts next spring.

Cotoneaster hedge

The Cotoneaster hedge in the back garden has lots of berries, but this could be because I forgot to trim it! Must cut it back to the berries and make it look a bit more tidy or a certain person will be complaining  of being hit in the face when he goes past on the lawnmower!!

Cotoneaster horizontalis

This photo of Cotoneaster horizontalis was taken on 15th September, I have just been to have a look and most of them have been eaten already, once again by the blackbirds.

Dwarf berberis

Our dwarf berberis bush is covered with tiny berries, it might only be small but it makes up for its lack of size by producing hundreds of berries, lucky birds!

At the moment, I would say that we don’t have as many berries as last year, some bushes have plenty but others not many at all. From experience,  we know that the birds won’t save them for when the weather takes a turn for the worse. They will eat them soon and then it will be up to me to provide lots of extra food for them to stay alive! How about you, do you have lots of berries to keep the bird population happy ?



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22 Responses to Will there be enough berries to go round?

  1. Cathy says:

    What a great collection of berries you have throughout the garden, and sometimes it takes a photographic foray like this to notice them all. I was intrigued by the Ophiopogon as the berries looked metallic in the picture, like misshapen lead shot, which is probably a trick of the light – and are the lonicera berries really that lovely purple? Thanks for sharing with us – you won’t get much thanks from the birds!

    • Pauline says:

      Hi Cathy, yes the lonicera berries are a super bluey/purple metallic colour, couldn’t believe it the first time I saw them some years ago. Once again, it’s the blackbirds that eat most of them. The ophiopogon berries are exactly the colour of the leaves, black but shiny, being the same colour, they are hard to find. I wonder why there is such a variety of colours in the berries, books say that black and red are eaten first, followed by orange then yellow, but we have noticed that our orange pyracantha berries are the first to be eaten, that’s why there wasn’t a photograph of them! Maybe our blackbirds are colour blind!!

  2. Jason says:

    Wonderful pictures, and a wonderful selection of berries. What kind of Lonicera is that with the purple berries? We have a number of berries which are eaten just as soon as they are ripe – Lindera benzoin, Cornus racemosa, and Cornus sericea. Viburnum trilobum and Lonicera sempervirum last a bit longer. Also there are crabapples that are eaten over several weeks. Then the poor snowberries (forgot the latin) seem to be left until the birds are absolutely desperate!

    • Pauline says:

      Jason, I should have put the Lonicera’s full name – apologies, it is Lonicera pileata, grows just short of 3ft which we keep clipped to a hedge. Must go and have a look at the few cornus that we have, have never noticed any berries before but you never know. I’m sure your birds love your crabapples, do you ever make crab apple jelly from them?

  3. Your birds are more fortunate than mine when it comes to autumn berries. You have a good variety of them. Those purple berries of your Lonicera are especially attractive.

    My lily of the valley have good berries, but my Cornus canadensis didn’t produce any this year, or something got them before I spotted any.

    It would be nice to think that there is an upside to slugs for gardeners. I laughed as I pictured them diligently spreading seeds for you. Perhaps you could give them tiny tools and they could water and weed for you, too. My slugs are untrainable.

    • Pauline says:

      Had to laugh NS at the thought of my well trained slugs, they also spread the seed of Cyclamen ! They like the sweet sugary coating, no I haven’t tried them, just what I have read in a book, then drop the seed when they have finished eating the seed coating !!

  4. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    I think the birds are really going to struggle this year, there’s such a lack of apples and such so there will be barely any windfall, let alone the berries.
    Obviously a lot depends on when the plants bloomed; for example I have one Pyracantha that has a good number of berries on it, another that doesn’t have a single one as it bloomed during the worst of the rains, my third and mature bush has only a couple of clumps of berries. Meanwhile my Cotoneaster tree has the most berries I’ve seen on it yet. Rose hips – I’d say I have a fair few.

    The birds have already descended on my garden, they feeders need refilling daily again after enjoying only refilling every few days. I can’t keep up at this rate.

    I’ve noticed my sweet box has berries on it this year but it’s still only small (got damaged in the heavy snow a few years ago and I’m not sure the birds would eat them anyway) and its blooms are forming, ready for winter.

    • Pauline says:

      Liz, I agree, the birds aren’t going to find as much food in our gardens this year unfortunately. Not many windfalls at all from our Bramley tree, normally they are everywhere. Haven’t noticed berries on sweet box, must go and have a look in the woodland where I have 2 plants, would be good to find some more berries.

  5. Christina says:

    Pauline, what a terrific collection of berries, I feel ashamed that there are nothing like as many berries in my garden for the birds to eat. Actually they don’t really seem to eat many berries (apart from raspberries, that is!). Maybe beacause the winter is not so hard here there are other things they prefer to eat. When I put out some fruit last year, when there was snow on the ground, none of it was eaten! I will have to watch to see what they do eat. Sadly my Rosa rubifolia died in the heat, but even its hips were not eaten in past years. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      Sorry to hear Christina, that your Rosa rubrifolia ( much nicer name than glauca ) has died. I think small animals like our dormouse must eat the hips as well as the birds, they never seem to last very long. I wonder what your birds eat in the winter, do your insects survive to feed everything?

  6. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    At work I was pleased to see the Pyracantha are full of berries, so hopefully something at least for the birds in that area! Last year there was a pair of Mistle Thrushes on them; must remember to take my camera this year 🙂

    Do you have any Hawthorn or Rowan? I remember seeing lots of Rowan berries a few months ago, but think they must’ve all been eaten already because I haven’t noticed any recently.

    • Pauline says:

      Wonderful Liz, Mistle Thrushes on Pyracantha, you can’t get much better than that, will look forward to the photos!
      Yes, we have quite a few young hawthorn bushes which will need to come out as they are growing in the middle of other bushes, seed deposited by the birds no doubt! We also have some old ones incorporated in the old hedge boundary and have all got plenty of fruit, one was in the post! A Rowan seed must have been deposited by a bird on the Devon bank in the veggie garden, I was wanting one but didn’t know where to plant one, the decision was taken for me! It is only young at the moment, so hasn’t flowered yet therefore no berries.

  7. debsgarden says:

    Your birds have a wonderful buffet of berries! I especially like the purple lonicera ones. I just planted a lonicera sempervirins, a native vine which has pinkish red blooms and orange berries. Overall, I am seeing fewer berries here, too. We do have lots of dogwood berries, which the birds love.

    • Pauline says:

      Deb, I must go and have a look at my dogwoods, I have never noticed any berries in the past, maybe I don’t have the correct varieties. My lonicera is a shrubby one, lonicera pileata which only grows about 3 ft and we grow it as a hedge, I had no idea that it had such gorgeous berries until I saw one of our blackbirds frantically feeding one autumn.

  8. So sorry to hear about your problem with the bees and birds…. I missed reading the original post so I will have to catch up! I am glad that you do have some berries to offer your birds. It is so nice to see them adding some color in the winter months!

    • Pauline says:

      I think WMG, we are all realising just how much we depend on the bees to provide most of our food and of course to provide the berries that the birds eat in the winter, we must look after them! Berries do look nice in the garden at a time of year when the flowers are finishing and there are so many different colours!

  9. pbmgarden says:

    I just loved seeing your berries. Here there are a few berries on the Dogwood, but haven’t noticed them on anything else. Just restocked the bird feeders for the first time since spring. We used to keep it filled year-round but squirrels and crows took it over last spring. Of course, they’ll probably return but meanwhile Northern Cardinals were feasting tonight.

    • Pauline says:

      Must check my Dogwoods PBM, hadn’t realised that they have berries! I put a bit of bird food out each day, just enough for them to have breakfast, then they can eat all the creepy crawlies in the garden! I am wageing war on the squirrels here, trying to make it as difficult as possible for them to reach the food, surely my brain is better than theirs, I ought to win this war!! Cardinals are such beautiful birds, your garden must be very colourful when they visit!

  10. as others have said what a beautiful array of berries Pauline, my dogwoods never have berries either but someone said to me last year the birds probably take them before I look so I was going to keep a closer eye this year but haven’t, the birds here never bother much with my dogrose hips and we do have some inscets around in winter, winter here is never as cold as when I lived down south, I’ve even seen the occasional slug on very mild winter days, I too love the purple berries of the lonicera, the second photo down of the purple berberis is beautiful, Frances

    • Pauline says:

      Frances, have you ever made rose hip syrup from your rose hips? I’ve never had enough to try but would love to someday. The birds are busy eating the berries every day, at this rate they won’t last very long.

  11. Hi Pauline, thank you, I am off to explore the subtle wonders of ophiophogon berries, which I didn’t realise even existed! It is always worrying when the bees have a bad year. Not many berries in my garden at present, though I hope in future years I can help the birds out a little as shrubs and trees grow to maturity.

    • Pauline says:

      Janet, the ophiopogon berries are certainly well camouflaged, don’t know if the birds find them or not. I think I have noticed the problem with lack of bees in spring and early summer, mostly on the fruit trees. Not much fruit at all on trees that flowered early and then I noticed that the same was for the bushes and trees that had berries, I can see us having to put out much more bird food this winter. Your new trees and bushes will soon grow and help to feed all your birds in the future, wonder if you will get any unusual ones, being on the coast?

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