Apparently I Need a Southern Gentleman

Berries in the snow, just what the doctor ordered.

No, I’m not advertising for a mate with a charming drawl. It’s only me letting out an inner “D’oh!” after a spot of Googling.

It’s all to do with winter interest in the garden, or lack thereof, in my own. Four years ago, determined to get serious about eradicating the dreariness of my winter landscape, I planted a Winterberry shrub, Ilex Verticillata “Winter Red”.

A specimen at the Toronto Botanical Gardens inspired me to plant one of these hardy deciduous hollies that sports spectacular red berries in winter.

I also picked up a male pollinator, “Jim Dandy”, as hollies need a male and a female to make berries. To my dismay, years went by with a berry count of zero, nothing, nada. I waited, thinking maybe it takes time for the magic to happen. But this year, with no berries again, I began to wonder, how long does it take before you see berries, perhaps I planted the pollinating fellow too far away? In general, what gives?

Well, turns out that compatibility really counts in the plant world. Today’s googling told me that I brought home Mr. Wrong for Ms. Winter Red. What I needed for her temperament was an Ilex “Southern Gentleman”. And no, the original tag didn’t have this info. So, all these years Red’s been ignoring the phone calls, avoiding the approach, and crossing the street whenever hopeful “Jim Dandy” came wafting by. Sigh. A match never meant to be. And now I can’t wait to install a new shrub in my spring garden; Ms Red’s waited long enough for her “Southern Gentleman”.


  1. Deciduous hollies are great; soon your's will brighten the gloom! Another deciduous holly that produces many berries (not sure if sex matters on it) is Possumhaw / Ilex decidua. Should make it there…

  2. Hoping also for red berries, I planted a thornless hawthorn. Red berries in the first year. After that nothing but weird thingys that look more like tiny chestnut pods (round and spikey) and are a sort of drab yellow. Does Ms. Hawthorn need a British Gentleman?

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