Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I love the woods in winter because you can see in and through them. When they're leafed out in the summer they're just a solid mass. My back yard is planted all around with trees and shrubs, some with winter berries, some with colored stems.

Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Cardinal')
From TTH200812

I planted these first around the base of my big pine tree. They didn't do well, maybe because the tree sucked all the moisture out of the soil. I moved a few to the back yard hedge and gave these to my neighbor. They're planted along our joint lot line. He was surprised to find that they grew about 8 feet in one year and is eyeing them nervously. I told him if he gives up on them to let me dig them and give them to a friend who is planning hedge in a wooded area.

She has some dreadful neighbors who actually cut down a mass of trees and laid out a road on my friend's property. They've erected a fence and now want to plant it thickly with fast growing shrubs. These are incredibly easy to propagate. In the late winter, just as the buds begin to swell, you cut a bunch of long stems, bundle them into fascines and bury them in trenches. They sprout all along the length of the stem. These are supposed to be great for erosion control on stream and pond banks. I suggested that she include plenty of pokeweed so the birds will eat the berries and then poop purple all over the neighbors' house.

Viburnum trilobum (Cranberrybush viburnum) and more Red twig dogwood
From TTH200812

I have three kinds of viburnums in this back hedge. The dentatum berries are gorgeous, gun metal blue, and get eaten as fast as they ripen. Th nudum are beautiful when they are ripening, shading through green, pink and dark blue. They dry to raisins that hang on and get eaten slowly. The trilobums are the showiest, starting out bright red, freezing to a rust color and hanging on through the winter. They'r a food of last resort for the birds and get eaten by the returning flocks in late winter.

Viburnum trilobum
From TTH200812

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry Holly)
I think I love winterberry the best of all. I have at least half a dozen cultivars. This one was a surprise with its pale orange berries. Only the female plants set berries and there are two major groupings with different bloom times. You have to have male plants with bloom times that match. The Forest Farm hard copy catalog has a very helpful chart. Request one here.

From TTH200812

From TTH200812

From TTH200812


  1. Hi, Susan, I just found your blog today.
    This comment is not meant for publication on your blog; I would like to correspond with you, but I see you do not give an email address.
    I'm in Bridgewater frequently and while there often take impromptu garden inspection tours/walks in the older part of town.
    Please take a look at my blog:
    and my web site:
    I would like to meet you and see your garden during one of my visits.

  2. Hi Jim,
    I hope you got my email. I would be glad to correspond with you at svhagen at verizon dot net.

  3. Susan, just wanted to thank you for posting pictures of the winterberry holly hedge. I'm planting one this spring and although I can picture what I'm trying to create in my mind, I needed to see it to be sure its what I wanted. Your pictures reassured me that it will look just as I imagined.

    Again, thank you for posting pictures, not many people take the extra time to include pictures.

    Marcy from PA


I'm sorry to have to ask for the word verification. I started getting spam comments recently.