The oil tank re-fuel guy who just left was easily the tenth person in as many days who wanted to know what that shrub is by my garage door. It is Callicarpa Americana, commonly known as American Beautyberry, and everyone is asking because right now, it is extraordinary.
A few days ago it still held its yellowing leaves, but yesterday they all fell off and I am left with stark naked branches covered in clusters of bright purple berries.
If you have never seen this plant, it is quite surprising. The berry clusters, which are about an inch in diameter, cover the long, arching branches from top to bottom, and they are an excellent source of food for birds —as well as fodder for plenty of inquiry and comment.
Not that I wish to deprive my feathered friends, but this is the first year that my shrub is large enough to confidently cut away enough branches to use in some extensive holiday decorating. I've been casting around for ideas to use them and am inspired by these pretty arrangements.
This Wedding Mantel features magnolia leaves, lilies, and lotus pods along with the callicarpa. I think if I removed the lilies and added some pomegranates or roses I would have a pleasing holiday arrangement.
This collection of Snowberry, beautyberry, and Japanese forest grass by Jacki-dee is so wild and naturally beautiful I couldn't imagine adding anything to make it more seasonally festive.
This arrangement, also by Jacki-dee, featuring Callicarpa Berries, Dogwood berries, and a white aster, looks like a great starting point for a Thanksgiving sideboard type of arrangement. I would perhaps add some persimmon to the mix, and perhaps the orange berries of bittersweet to make it seem a bit more like fall.
Do you grow Beautyberry? What to you pair it with?
(Image credits: Rochelle Greayer; James Theodore Farmer III ; Jacki-Dee under CC BY-ND 2.0; Jacki-dee under CC BY-ND 2.0)