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Growing berries and birdies on a Viburnum Plicatum


When I looked out of my window this morning I was rewarded with a perfect christmas image: a bare Viburnum Plicatum full of red berries and tiny little songbirds – blue tits, great tits, a red robin and a nuthatch. The cold weather drives the birds into the garden, but I dont think they much like the seeds when it is too cold – far better to have a few juicy berries – or better still a worm from the compost heap.

My Viburnum is one of the plants that I will sorely miss when I leave this house. It was already an established shrub when I came ten years ago but I have allowed it to grow no taller. Instead each year I snip off all the shoots at the top and shape it into a vague lollipop shape. It responds well to the treatment by bulking out producing lots of leaves and flowers – no doubt it would make a good hedge, but I think it looks prettier suspended with bare legs than it would if I let its skirts sweep the ground.

This Viburnum is a real doer – the leaves in spring are a nice bright hazel green and the flat sheaths of white flowers smother the branches. On occasion it suffers a lot of damage from those little green caterpillars that suspend themselves from a single thread and wind themselves down to the floor and the leaves become like a green lace – not that attractive, but for those years the bird food the Viburnum produces is really excellent and the sparrows nesting by the house welcome having such a short flight to the nearest deli.

We have had such wickedly awful summers the last few years that I appreciate any shrub that turns a nice orange red, and this one does – keeping its leaves for a reasonable length of time.

But best of all I like the shiny brown twiggyness of the shrub in winter and the pillar box red berries which remain on the bush for ages – simply because the birds only eat them when they have given up on everything else. Last year I had a mistlethrush who patrolled back and forth all January keeping the other birds off. I dont know why it bothered as it clearly did not like the berries. Each time it ate one it would carefully wipe its beak back and forth as if in disgust at having to get rid of the goo.

Occasionally – every three or four years or so there is a little patch of seedlings which can be dug up and given away, so I went out to explore whether there is a baby I can take to the new house and there is. So much nicer than having to start again with a stranger.

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Yes, good to be able to take plants with you when you move house.
I hope you find some baby shrubs... maybe take a couple to be sure one will survive in your new garden. :o)

4 Dec, 2009


Your's must be the most appreciated Viburnum in the UK and it has rewarded you with a baby. I'm sure it will grow happily in your new garden, cos it knows you loved it's mother so much, I do hope you will be happy in your new home and your baby Vi grows up as beautiful as her Mum.
Very nice blog ss.

4 Dec, 2009


Are you moving far, Sarah? I'm not familiar with this particular Viburnum, but I do hope your baby thrives. :-))

4 Dec, 2009


I'm hoping to move to Hassocks, a large village at the foot of the South Downs, so no not far for me. However there is many a slip twixt cup and lip so I must try to keep my expectations down till the money has finally passed hands!

6 Dec, 2009

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