Newspaper Columns

Oct 9th colKeith Hansen, Smith County Extension Agent, writes a column each week which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Keith HansenKeith Hansen’s blog

 The link above is to Keith’s blog which includes his column and other gardening news and tips.

Dee Bishop, Smith County Master Gardener, writes a weekly column which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph each week.

October 16th Column

Many of the very showy plants in our gardens come from all over the world, but manyDSCN4567 copy that are equally as showy come from right here in America—right here in Texas even.  This American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) with its little clusters of bright purple berries up and down the stem is a star in my garden.  All of my life, it has been a favorite.  I remember it being one of the first plants to catch my eye as a very small child.  My Dad told me it was called Spanish mulberry but better known as ‘coon grapes’ in our neck of the woods.  Coons and other wildlife do love the berries.

Beautyberries grow rampantly here in East Texas.  People from other countries always notice them.  Isn’t it funny how people are the same everywhere—we want what’s in Europe or Japan and they want what’s here.   If you don’t have one, hold your breath a second or two  and a bird will plant one for you.  I allow several to grow in strategic areas of my yard, where I want fall color.  I love the bright purple berries with the bright yellow color of their leaves in fall.  Have you ever seen a Beautyberry that is bright yellow with its brilliant purple berries?  Absolutely stunning!  I have tried cutting the berries to bring in for arrangements with no success.  They shed once they’re cut.  Such a shame as they would win a prize in a fall arrangement.

I like to cut my bushes to the ground every year once they shed the leaves and the berries are gone.  That way when they come out new, they will be much more compact, if you can call a 4-6 ft. bush compact.  If you let them alone, they will grow huge and get raggedy.  I doubt you can buy Beautyberry anywhere but native plant nurseries, but don’t despair—-the birds will plant one for you!

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