A very berry French Christmas

In her French garden dispatch, Cathy Thompson offers tips on winter colour

In the dark month when Saturn rules the northern hemisphere, the garden celebrates its own festival of lights with a crown of berries. There’s nothing like the sharp intake of breath and lifting of the spirits that comes when we round a corner and come face to face with the blaze of colour that was a hitherto demure and retiring tree or shrub, now covered in glory. 

But we have a choice here – are we feeding the birds or contriving to plant so that berries give us pleasure instead?

Red and black berries are most attractive to birds, with the blacks of ivy (also useful for foraging bees in early spring) the most obvious and seasonal choice. Add flashes of red with hedgerow European natives such as roses, hawthorn, spindle bush (Euonymus europaeus), guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) and barberry (Berberis spp). I ...

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