December E-News from Viette's               Volume 10: No. 12

Lori Jones, Editor                                                                                       December/2014

Christmas front porch at night
Happy Holidays
from your friends
at Viette's
We wish everyone a beautiful
and safe holiday season
filled with joy and good cheer!
Enjoy this festive time and
may your new year be filled
with peace and happiness! 
Join Andre and Claire for a personal tour of
their beautiful Christmas wonderland.
Quick Links
Plant of the Month
Bright purple berries of Callicarpa
Bright purple berries of Callicarpa
Callicarpa spp. 
Callicarpa or Beautyberry is a fantastic, though often underused, shrub that is covered with colorful berries in the late summer and fall. Callicarpa dichotoma, Purple Beautyberry is one of the most popular varieties. Vibrant lavender-purple berries line the arching stems of this 3-4 foot deciduous shrub from late August through the fall and into winter. Stunning!
Callicarpa shrub
Callicarpa dichotoma in early fall
Every fall people visiting the Viette gardens ask, "What is that beautiful shrub along the driveway with the bright purple berries?"
You can't miss it! The berries are brilliant! They catch your eye even from a distance and in the late fall, when the leaves drop, the show of vivid purple berries is even more spectacular! The berries persist into winter and the leafless, fruit laden branches can be used to create attractive natural arrangements for both indoors and out.
Callicarpa in late fall
The berries stand out even more once the leaves drop.

There is also a beautiful white berried variety, Callicarpa dichotoma var. albifructus, which produces pure white berries. Both the white and purple varieties are outstanding in the garden and in my mind, should be used much more than they are in our gardens. When planted en masse, the effect is stunning!      

White-berried callicarpa
Callicarpa var. albifructus has beautiful snow white berries.


American Beautyberry,
Callicarpa americana, is a large understory shrub that is native to the southern United States. It is taller and more open than the C. dichotoma and is commonly found at the edge of swampy areas and in moist woodlands. This species also produces attractive clusters of lavender-purple berries in the fall.
American beautyberry
American beautyberry
Easy Culture
Callicarpa is easy to grow and the berry production is very reliable year after year. Plant them in full sun or light shade and fertilize them with Espoma Plant-tone organic fertilizer in early spring and again in the fall. Since they produce flowers and fruit on the current year's growth, pruning and thinning should be done in the early spring before growth begins. They can be cut back to 8"-12" from the ground just like Buddleia (Butterfly bush).

More Colorful Berry Shrubs
There are many other wonderful shrubs like hollies, Euonymus, Nandina, Pyracantha, and Viburnum which bear a wealth of brilliant berries that bring welcome relief from the drabber hues of winter. Besides looking beautiful in the garden, many of these berries are tasty to the birds in your backyard and also make attractive decorations for fall and at holiday time.
Colorful fruit of V. lantana
Colorful berry clusters of
Viburnum lantana
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Did You Know?  
A pair of cardinals
A colorful pair of cardinals feasts at the sunflower seed feeder.
Backyard Bird Feeding
Even in winter when your plants are "sleeping", you can still enjoy your garden!
Our wild bird friends can be very colorful and are fun to watch from the comfort and warmth of your home.
our house, we have strategically placed several different feeders off our deck so we can watch them from the den while we are sipping coffee by the fire, from our breakfast room while we are eating, and even from the kitchen.  
of the tricks to attracting a variety of birds to your home is to provide a variety of feeders and food choices (great gift ideas!!).
A variety of different feeders brings a variety of different birds.
A variety of different feeders brings a variety of different birds.
We have several platform feeders for the ground feeding birds such as juncos, mourning doves, and sparrows. Tube feeders filled with black-oil sunflower seeds bring in the titmice, chickadees, cardinals, and both white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches. The finches love the thistle seed feeders and our suet feeders attract 4 different species of woodpeckers as well as nuthatches, chickadees, and wrens.
Downy woodpecker at the suet feeder
A male downy woodpecker
at the suet feeder
A chickadee perches on a platform feeder full of cranberries and seeds
Once you begin feeding the birds, be sure to keep your feeders full throughout the winter as the birds will come to depend on this source of food.
In addition to a variety of feeders, it is very important to provide a source of clean fresh water for the birds throughout the winter. We use a simple birdbath heater to keep our big water trough from freezing. The bluebirds and a variety of other thirsty birds flock to this open water source all winter long! 
Bluebirds enjoy fresh water in the middle of winter.
Tip of the Month

Berries are for the Birds!


Winterberry in winter
Winterberry holly in winter

Trees and shrubs that produce berries are wonderful in the garden - especially the ones that hold their berries into the winter. Berries brighten the landscape and provide a splash of color at an otherwise drab time of the year.


But these berries offer more than beauty in the landscape. They supply a natural source of food for birds and other wildlife through much of the winter and many of these trees and shrubs also provide them with some great winter "hiding places".   

One of the secrets to creating a wildlife and bird-friendly landscape is to plant a diversity of trees and shrubs that will provide food and shelter for a wide variety of furred and feathered critters. There are loads of beautiful berry producers that feed the critters and also make wonderful landscape plants. Beautyberry (Callicarpa) and Winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) are great choices and there are many of these planted in the Viette gardens but there are some other excellent options as well.


These beautiful orange crabapples brighten the fall garden.
Colorful crabapples

One of the best trees to plant for wildlife is the crabapple. The fruit lasts well into the winter and provides an excellent source of food for many different wild birds including waxwings, bluebirds, cardinals, grosbeaks, wrens, robins, and mockingbirds. According to Andre, the small fruited varieties (fruit less than 3/4") are preferred by birds. The squirrels, chipmunks, and deer enjoy the larger crabapples especially after they fall from the tree.

Fruit of Cornus kousa
Fruit of Cornus kousa
, both the native (Cornus florida) and the Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa), are beautiful in the landscape especially in the spring and they produce wonderful berries/fruit that the birds love. The fruit of the Kousa dogwood is fleshy; more like a cherry than a berry and the birds just devour these!


Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) is a very hardy deciduous tree that provides food for birds and wildlife. The fruit ripens in the late summer and persists into winter. Wild turkeys, woodpeckers, waxwings and even little mice find the fruit of hackberry irresistible!

Juniper berries
Juniper berries


There are many evergreens that provide food for birds through the winter. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a beautiful native cedar that produces attractive blue berries that are a favorite of Cedar Waxwings and many other birds.

The red berries of the American Holly (Ilex opaca) mature in October and persist on the tree well into

Ilex opaca berries
Ilex opaca berries

winter - at least until the birds eat them all! These evergreen hollies are a wonderful addition to the garden and provide great nesting sites for many species of birds including mourning doves and robins. Berry laden holly boughs can also be cut in December for use in holiday arrangements - an added bonus!  

Many ornamental species of Sumac (Rhus) and Viburnum produce berries that ripen in late summer or early fall and remain on the shrubs into the winter. These shrubs attract a variety of different birds to the garden including flickers, woodpeckers, cardinals, robins, bluebirds, sparrows, and grosbeaks.  


Pyracantha berries. Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft.,
Pyracantha berries 

There are several beautiful cultivars of Scarlet Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea) that have spectacular berries in shades of red, orange, and yellow. These shrubs can be used as a specimen in the garden, as an informal hedge, or espaliered on a wall or trellis. In addition to feeding on the berries, many birds also like to nest in these shrubs because the branches are covered with sharp thorns which provide protection from predators.


Moose eating mountainash
Moose eating mountainash
(Sorbus spp.) produces spectacular clusters of brilliant red or orange fruit that is a favorite of many different birds and even larger critters. I was sent some photos of a large bull moose noshing on the berries of Mountainash outside an office building in Anchorage, Alaska!
"He doesn't come everyday, but when the snow gets thick and it is harder to forage in the woods, he comes into town for a snack." 
How crazy is that to see outside your office window - and in the middle of the city. Never a dull moment!


Rose hips
Rose hips

Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa) and many varieties of honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) also produce loads of rose hips and berries to feed the birds and other wildlife during the winter.


Consider adding some of these wonderful trees and shrubs to your gardens next spring. You will not only be rewarded with a beautiful and colorful landscape but your wildlife friends will love you forever! 
Don't forget to provide your feathered friends with a source of fresh, unfrozen water over the winter!
If you enjoy our newsletter, please pass it along to your gardening friends!


From the Viette's Views Blog ...
young figs    11-14-2014 16:20:50 PM
Figs - I've never tried growing them but we get numerous calls and e-mail questions about them from people that do. They seem to be quite popular little fruits to grow. Apparently if your only exposure to figs has been Fig Newtons or dried figs, you have been missing out on a real treat by [...]...�


young holly tree    11-07-2014 15:41:57 PM
Recently, we've been talking about transplanting some of our trees and shrubs. I'm not talking about digging them and replanting them in OUR yard but digging them, potting them up, and eventually planting them next summer at my mom's in Vermont and at my son's new home in Maine. We have some special trees and [...]...�

HouseToursHoliday House Tours! 

Viette House Tours 


Saturday, December 13 - 1:30pm 
Wednesday, December 17 - 1:30pm  

Join Andre and Claire Viette for a personal tour of their beautiful home decorated for Christmas!  

The crystal tree

Back by popular demand, Andre has added 2 house tours this year. He will show you his extensive outdoor displays and then lead you from room to room indoors explaining about each of his unique displays; the history behind them, how he creates each one, plus other tips and techniques for holiday decorating.
This Christmas wonderland takes Andre a full two weeks to complete and includes: 
  • Christmas birdhouse A live Christmas tree with snow and colorful ornaments
  • A live Christmas tree with crystal, pearls, and crocheted ornaments
  • Loads of beautiful arrangements with live greens 
  • Gold mantle arrangement
  • Antique, hand-made ornaments
  • Bell collection and colored glass collection
  • Santa collection with over 100 Santas
  • Beautiful manger arrangement
  • Old Christmas card collection, and lots more . . .
  • Plus, many wonderful outside arrangements with beautiful greens and colorful berries combined with antique farm tools, sleighs, and sleds!
The beautiful
Tour fee is  $10.00
Reservations are suggested but not required.

Call 800-575-5538 for more details.
Gardening Questions?
Andre  answers a listener's question during a broadcast of 'In the Garden'
Listen to Andre
on the radio every Saturday morning from 8:00-11:00 on 
"In the Garden  
with Andre Viette"
Click for a station list or listen live from our flagship station WSVA in Harrisonburg, VA.
Listen to podcasts of the show.
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Aloha - Join Mark on a Trip to Hawaii  
Hawaii Four-Island Agricultural Tour
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
Lava flows in Hawaii
Join Mark Viette on this unique tour of Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Hawaii

Tour highlights include:
Oahu - Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, Punchbowl Crater, Iolani Palace, Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial with shuttle boat ride 
Kauai - Opaekaa Falls, Wailua Riverboat Cruise, Fern Grotto, Steel Grass Farm 
Pineapples Maui - Iao Valley State Park and Iao Needle Lookout Point, Old Whaling Capital of Lahaina, Maui Gold Pineapple Plantation
Hawaii - Hilo, Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa & Kilauea Volcanoes, Jaggar Museum, Giant Ferns, Thurston's Lava Tube, Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, NELHA, fish farm

PLUS two gardening presentations given by Mark Viette.


Click for more information about this exciting trip.
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