Friday, November 11, 2005

Strange new favourite

I have shocking news. The common Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus, is a beautiful bush. I know, I know. It grows like a weed. It is found in almost every public planting that have been planned by a technician rather than a garden architect. I know all that and I don’t deny it.

But - you knew a ‘but’ was coming and here it is - I forgive all that because of one thing, the pearl white berries on naked branches. A year ago I was on my way back to the car after having visited a nice restaurant. It was a dark November evening. All leaves had fallen and it was rather cold. As I turned from the street and into the car park I threw a glace sideways and there they were. Glowing in the streetlights, hanging like jewels. I had to stop and just look. I couldn’t really believe what I just experienced. It was a moment of beauty, right there, in the car park, in the darkest month of them all and the supplier of it was nothing less, and certainly nothing more, than the most common bush of them all - the snowberry.

Rather amazed I sat in the car and drew home.

For a year now I have tried hard to deny its beauty thinking it was just the late night, the lights and so on. I won’t blame it on drinking though as I hadn’t been drinking at all. But denial is no longer an option. The other morning as I drew to work I saw another bunch of snowberry bushes, this time in the morning light. Cold morning. Bleak November sun. Snowberry pearls on naked branches. Beautiful.

I don’t think I will start to grow snowbushes in my garden. I don’t like them most of the year and they are a bit too aggressive for me. I will continue to enjoy them in late fall and in the winter though, and this have made me curious. What other plants, trees, bushes are waiting to be discovered as things of real beauty? Things like roses, lilies and magnolias everybody knows are beautiful but what about the rest of the plant population? Are there plants that show their best side in January? October? March? I want to go out and discover! It is pitch black outside. Will the neighbors wonder if I start walking around with a flashlight? If I am not back within twenty-four hours, please tell the police I wasn’t planning on breaking and entering - I was merely gardening.


Kathy said...

Here in the U.S. it is regarded as an old-fashioned shrub and isn't seen in public plantings. As a matter of fact, I had never seen one before we moved here in 1989. My neighbor also had one and she said she didn't know the real name of it. Their family called it the popcorn bush.

It seems to be tough as nails but rather scraggly. I did see a nice one once at a newly landscaped house, so I suspect there is an improved variety out there.

I am really enjoying your blog--don't stop!

Linn said...

Popcorn bush - that's a really great name! I am glad to hear it isn't so heavily used everywhere as it is here.