Bisexual a safe bet if you don’t have space for formanii

Skimmia reevesiana.

Skimmia reevesiana.

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Ornamental fruits are perhaps the most valuable of natural attractions in the garden. Apart from brightening up dull days, they provide sustenance for birds.

There are different forms, from ground-hugging to ornamental tree proportions.

For example, three cotoneaster – procumbens, adpressus and dammeri – will cover a raised wall garden with low growth, whereas C lacteus, John Waterer and Rothschildiana will send arching branches up to five metres long with little encouragement, the latter having yellow fruits.

For a stunning display of red berries choose the giant C frigidus or its cultivar fructu luteo, which offers creamy yellow berries.

A bright display of long-lasting fruits comes from callicarpa when planted in a sheltered, sunny spot.

For something spectacular, plant a hedge of firethorn (pyracantha) against a wall or fence.

Mountain ash or rowan (sorbus aucuparia) is a familiar sight in the countryside. When I passed a group last week dripping with red berries, thoughts turned to the cultivated types in our gardens.

S cashmiriana has clusters of white fruits, those of S hupehensis are white-tinged pink, and S Joseph Rock’s a creamy yellow. Appearances, and labels, are not always to be trusted.

Some plants have flowers with only male reproductive parts (stamens), but others only have a female part (pistil).

This is important when choosing a variegated holly tree (ilex) which produces berries, because someone mixed up the sexes when naming certain cultivars years ago. Golden king is really a queen. It follows that golden queen is a king. As for ilex silver queen, you guessed correctly!

If you’re going for skimmias, remember that rubella is a male form, so you’ll only get red flowerbuds and no fruit.

Formanii is a female and fruits prolifically. If you like both and have the space, go for it, but otherwise play safe and buy skimmia reevesiana as it’s bisexual.