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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


There's really no definitive reason why. But for some reason the American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana looks especially bright and pretty this year.

The (two) native beautyberry plants were added to the very back of the garden a couple of years ago. At that time it was dotted here and there with Serenoa repens, saw palmetto natives and giant (Florida-friendly) Philodendron bipinnatifidum with some room for additions in between.

The determination to capture the farthest back 20 feet of the property was to experiment with some plants that would firstly require less attention than the rest of the garden. Secondly, it was hoped the addition of more native plants blended with the tropical Florida-friendly plants would create a flowing native appearance more like we see in nature.
Beautyberry does just that. Long, arching, loosely open branches of leaves and bright magenta clumps of berries. So natural we see them on the roadside and in wooded hammocks most everywhere... likely where a bird has 'planted' them.

One of the characteristics I admire about this evergreen shrub is the ever-so dainty blush pink blooms it sports beginning in June of each year.
Those minutely tiny buds burst open into flowers so small the detail can be seen better after a macro photo is enlarged on the screen than with the naked eye.

The beautyberries were sited across from a mixed tropical setting of Alpinia zerumbet 'Variegata' shell ginger and cordylines. The idea was for them to border the other side of the pathway that winds through the long side of two large planting beds. It is clear (from the photo above) that the pathway has been narrowed by the exuberant growth of both plants. But trust me, it is a pathway ... we just scoot around the happy plants when passing.

In juxtaposition looking across a grassy pathway the Pseuderanthemum 'Black Varnish' echos the deep colors of the magenta beautyberries. The beautyberries, philodendrons and palmettos can be seen better in the background of the photo below.

Squeezing plants in tightly together and layering them by contrasting colors and sizes helps to acheive that tropicalesque view. Then tucking shrubs in (like the native beautyberry) underneath ages-old and taller palmettos backed by 8' tall and sometimes as wide Philodendron bipinnatifidum flows right into a natural woodsy appearance. Albeit controlled woods. *grin*
There are no fertilizers or chemicals used in these beds. Just organic materials broken down over several years of layering healthy doses of leaves for mulch and composting.

Seeing all those plump juicy berries that are not meant for human consumption has me wondering how much longer they will last. I sure hope the wildlife discovers them soon. Afterall, that is one big reason they were planted.

I do hope you are enjoying your gardens as much as I am enjoying mine during these mild days of autumn. Meems


  1. where did you get the black varnish plant I have one purple and one white beauty berry bush in my yard in Ft Pierce here tell of a light pink one can not find a source

  2. HI Meems.......they are such a wonderful colour and make a statement in the garden.

    I am sure the wildlife will find them eventually....they always do.

  3. Gorgeous photos of one of my favorites, Meems. We probably have more wildlife here on Pollywog Creek, but it is the mockingbirds that I see feasting on the beautyberry most often. I am thinking that catbirds and cardinals like them, too, because I often find them in the thickets where the beautyberries are most abundant.

  4. They really are a striking plant with those very purple berries. Beautiful shots!

  5. Even though there are plenty to share, a mockingbird will guard all those berries, chasing off any other hopeful diners. BEAUTIFUL setting, Meems! Thanks ever so for sharing some of your brightness today. It's all grey and dreary up here.

    Have a JESUS-filed day! ^i^

  6. I do believe this beauty berry bush is my favorite. Those little purple berries are such a surprise in the garden at this time of year. A flock of robins swooped in and cleaned out the beauty berries in just a few days. They are now working on the Hawtohrn berries. Many departed though. I guess they didn't like Hawthorn as much.

  7. meems...what a great addition to your wonderful back of the back yard. i was telling abbey about when dh and i had wedding plans for in your garden so long ago and how different it was back then. still beautiful but now is stunningly beautiful. i love the colour of these berries. i know i planted some of these but haven't seen any berries yet and don't know what colour mine are going to be. it is will be interesting to see who finds those delicious berries...i don't think armadillos like them, right? lol.
    loved seeing these today...we are all rain and overcast.
    happy autumn.

  8. Natives just make a statement like nothing else. I haven't planted beautyberry here, but the birds bring them in. Butterflies enjoy the flowers in the spring where they are self planted with upright lantana and passifloras, a better planting that I could have designed.

    I wondered if you have calycanthus? Sweet shrub, we call it, another great native.

  9. I have always been taught that the early Florida pioneers used beautyberry for dye. Have you ever tried it?

  10. Hi Meems~~ It's really a shame that Beauty Berry isn't for human consumption. Your fabulous depictions make them look so tempting. You've done a beautiful job designing with this stunning plant.

  11. Love that Beauty Berry. I think that is what I saw in N.C. They were growing in the edge of woods near a creek. I will have to check & see if they do grow that far North.
    I sure could use one in my garden.

  12. The Beautyberry is gorgeous, Meems. I love that color!!!

    Sounds like life is great in Florida. I've had a busy couple of weeks --but hopefully am home for awhile now.


  13. I had no idea these beautiful berries are Florida-friendly (which means they'll be Mumbai-friendly too). I've only seen them in photos on blogs and have been craving them ever since . Does this mean there's hope?

  14. The colour of the Beautyberrries is amazing! A real treat for the eye!

  15. Meems
    I agree. The Beautyberry is the best it has ever looked this year. Great pictures! We must have had enough rain during the May pollenation to get all the fruit to set. As you said it needs no water or fertilizer and is adaptable to sun or moderate shade. If folks want the leaves to be more green than yellow and feature them more prominantly in the home garden they can use some Epsom Salt and here are some U of F guidelines.
    Magnesium will help all the plants as we have so little in our sandy soils.

  16. Meems, The callicarpa is gorgeous! I don't think I've seen bushes looking so healthy anywhere around here. It's layered branches are a perfect foil for the philodendrum giant cut leaves. Your macro shops show how sweet the flowers are...hardly noticeable during the summer! The wild ones in our parks and woodlands have all puckered up and will dot the plants most of the winter.

    meems, I don't mean to whine,well, not too much! We have hardly had the usual fall weather. It feels like November, mostly gray with wet cold weather.

    Maybe November will be sunny and warm!


  17. Love to see Beautyberries on blogs...your images are wonderful!

  18. Beautiful shots. Berries are looking so cute!!!!!

  19. Oh, those berries are wonderful! I want some for my yard, but wonder if I should wait until my kiddos are old enough to keep them out of their mouths. Why do kids act picky about greens at the dinner table but stuff weird plants into their mouths while out in the garden?

  20. Your plantings are quite amazing. I love the way you have both purple berried plants and purple foliage. I agree with Lisa that the color of those berries is a surprise.

  21. These berries are from a differenr universe.

  22. So good at all that you do, dear Meems, another informative post. So tempted to stay longer, I often feel I have overstayed my welcome and you might come out and offer me a refreshing toddy ... to leave :)

  23. Hey Meems, I am going to love this beauty berry by all these fantastic photos of them. I like how you care for them. Nice information.

  24. Anonymous,
    Thanks for visiting. I got the black varnish plants as very small seedlings from a local nursery. They root very easily from cuttings so I have made many more plants from the six I bought originally. I'll keep some rooted over winter in pots in case we have a frost this year. They don't like frost at all... which is probably not an issue for you down in Ft. Pierce.

    Their brightness is an eye-catcher and for a native plant they add interest almost all year in the garden.

    For some reason we don't see too many mockingbirds around here... but I've heard more than one person say they are the beautyberry connoisseurs. Maybe the catbirds are keeping them all to themselves.

    The wonderfully overcast morning helped with the intensity of the purple and the photos. :-)
    Thank you.

    I'm hoping the cardinals know what beautyberry is because they are more plentiful here than mockingbirds. It's been a strange weather week but I know you all have gotten more rain and no cool weather to go with it. ack! like summer again. Maybe cooler Sunday...

    Oh, I remember now when you talked about your robins last year stripping the beautyberry. I would surely love to have robins find mine.

    I remember that so clearly ... there would be no seating space now days where we had it set up for your wedding. But all the plantings that have taken the place of the lawn was there could make for some great wedding pictures. hmmmm...

    I do hope your berries pop out for you. Actually around your place the birds will most likely plant a few for you... or check in the woodsey areas ... might already be some there.

    Having fun with your girls this week I know... hugs and love to everyone.

  25. Nell Jean,
    Do you know beautyberry isn't even sold around here in our local nurseries. I bought mine down on Captiva Island (3 hrs south)where there is a native nursery. Seeing it is a nice reminder of a great little get-away time with Mr. Meems. I don't have calycanthus but googled it and will keep my eye out for it now. Thanks.

    I've not ever tried the dye.It would make a gorgeous color if it is true and someone was industrious enough to try it. :-)

    They DO look tempting and it makes me wonder what happen to the early folks who were the 'tasters' to discover what was edible and what wasn't. *grin*

    It would be a great addition to your garden and yes, you probably did see them in NC... (Z 6-10)

    You have had some stuff going on ... I sure hope you are comfy and enjoying being home for a while, too. No place like home.Hugs.

    Oh... wouldn't that be great if you could find this beautiful berry for your garden! I think it would definitely work for you.

    The ultra-violet intensity is so unique even down here in the sub-tropics.

    We did have that unusual week of rain in May. The veggie garden hated being overwatered but the beautyberry must have loved it. I've seen so many pretty ones over at the beaches in Manatee county recently too. Thanks for the great link and tip on the Epsom salt. We use that product regularly around her for aching muscles... I always find a place in the garden to discard it. Good to know.

    I know your fall has been lack-luster with all the dreary rains. Hopefully over the next month or so there'll be some redemption if the colors peak for ya'll. I keep wondering if next spring is going to be gorgeous up there after all the rains you've sustained this season? Does it work that way for ya'll like it does here?

    Thank you. Beautyberry is a vivid color and makes for a pretty visual in life and photos.

    Thanks... they last right through winter, too.

    Ha... it is SO true. Maybe we should try taking them out to the garden to feed them? Not the berries but the stuff they need to eat. :-)

    When I look around my garden it is quite noticeable although not particularly planned that I lean toward deep purples and reds... it's just turned out that way and it works for me.

    You make me chuckle. Is the south a different universe? It sure feels like it sometimes.

    Never. Stay and linger as long as you like. Always good to hear from you and share some gardening love.

  26. Hello Mania,
    Do you grow them in Pakistan? It's so interesting how you have many of similar plants as we do.

  27. I have no idea but we didn't grow it here in out garden.

    Hey I want to ask you a question as the word meem is also the 31tt letter of the Urdu alphabet.
    Just for curiosity, I want to know, is meems your real name or a nick?

    see it here

  28. mania,
    Most interesting.

    No, not my formal given name... it is a family-friendly name bestowed on me from my grand-kiddos. I started using it when I first began blogging and it has stuck. Thanks for the information and the link. Learn something new every day. :-)

  29. if birds and other creatures can feast on the beauty berry, what harm will they do to humans? just curious!

  30. WOW Meems ~ those beauty berry photos are the bomb. The color of the berries is fabulous. I have never grown this shrub but I always admire them. You have worked so hard on your gardens and I love the evolution. The pathway in your latest post is just great. I need to work on adding more form and structure to my garden too.
    Isn't it interesting that it's snowed so much in Colorado and you've had so much heat in Florida? I hope it moderates for both of us. I know I'll be visiting your blog a lot more now that it's winter. Your garden always help me make it thru the cold days.

  31. Hi I live in North Central Florida. We have tons of these beauty berries. This will be my 2nd year making jelly. It is a fresh flavor. The squirrels love the berries also.
    Just though you'd like to know they are harmless.


Have a blessed day,

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