As autumn arrives and the leaves are starting to fall in the garden, I appreciate my Callicarpa (Beautyberry) shrub.
It produces a “fruit” in the form of a berry, which is a gorgeous purple colour with a metallic luster. It looks like the berries are painted with metallic automotive paint! After the branches have lost their leaves, the berries remain through the winter, contributing bright colour to the otherwise gray garden. I’ve learned that these purple berries are important for birds as a survival food, although they don’t eat them till other sources are depleted. The berries are quite astringent; apparently some varieties are used for wine and jelly.
I always remember the first time I ever saw this shrub, in the garden of my late friend Kwiam Choi. Kwiam was a wonderful artist and framer and he built most of my canvases and framed much of my artwork in my early days. He was a wonderful, joyful spirit and he was a great, supportive resource for me. On the eve of one of my first art shows, searching for some floral accoutrements to dress up the bare warehouse space for the show, he let me cut many big long branches filled with those berries.
I do miss him.