Here are some of my favorite berry-bearing shrubs and trees that will add beauty and interest to your winter garden, and at the same time, serve as an important food source for winter birds.
Enjoy our avian friends and do all you can to make life good for them. -- Ciscoe
OK, they're kind of weeds around here, but anyone who has ever had a female holly in their garden knows how much the birds love them. They are the birds' favorite fall and winter restaurant until all of the berries have been stripped from the branches.
Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)
These are gorgeous, easy to grow shrubs that can reach 6-foot 6ft tall and 4ft wide., but it's more than worth the space. Long inflorescences of white flowers with purple bracts hang from the shrub for an extended time in summer and fall and are followed by berries that start out green, turn deep red and then purplish black with all three colors on the plant at once. Birds feast on them until they can barely fly. Hardy to Zone -10 degrees.
Beautyberry (Callicarpa bodinieri)
The botanical name means beautiful fruit. The exquisite violet to purple berries in mid-winter stop people in their tracks. This shrub puts on a good display at the back of the border where its 6-by-6-foot stature has room to develop. The cultivar 'Profusion' exhibits an especially abundant amount of berries. Hardy to Zone -20 degrees, this plant was introduced to the U.S. about 20 years ago. For the first 10 years, no birds ever ate the spectacular berries because the birds weren't familiar with them. Then evidently the birds made some bird no one liked try one. He survived, and now the birds feast on them. Enjoy them until the birds eat them up. They are spectacularly beautiful.
Twig Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
Beautiful colored stems are topped with spectacular berries that birds can't resist. These tough plants thrive in clay and drought. They're so loved by birds the berries don't last long, but it doesn't matter because twig dogwoods have great fall color, and the colored stems add color and interest for the rest of winter.
Superb low hedge or groundcover plants formed by spreading branches that display an interesting herringbone pattern. Small, pink flowers in spring are followed by large, beautiful red berries that brighten the winter landscape and drive birds in to wild feeding frenzies. Some are deciduous, while others are evergreen. All are tough, easy to grow shrubs.
Hawthorn Tree: (Crataegus) & Junipers (Juniperus)
Birds Don't seem to like the berries on these plants and never touch the berries of junipers and hawthorns until the heart of winter when they're really hungry and need a nutritious food source. Then whole flocks of hungry bushtits and other birds descend onto the berry-covered branches to strip them clean.
Dwarf Cranberry Bush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum 'Compactum')
Quick-covering low hedge valued for brilliant display of edible, bright red fall berries. Excellent fall color. Attractive white lacecap flowers on a compact, upright form.
Finally, the birds don't touch the attractive fruit of Firethorne until the berries ferment in early winter. Then every bird from miles around flies in to join the festivities. At Seattle University, the birds used to get so drunk, we had assign student employees to stop traffic to allow our inebriated feathered friends to stagger across the road. Party Time!