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

Skimmia reevesiana.
Skimmia reevesiana.

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.