I garden for wildlife, so many of my favorite shrubs—serviceberry, elderberry, grey dogwood–are the ones whose berries the birds devour the second they ripen. But there’s something to be said for a shrub that holds on to its abundant and very pretty berries all winter long. And few shrubs can beat coralberry.
Coralberry (also called Indian currant–the Latin name is in the first photo caption above) would be a useful plant even if it didn’t provide so much winter interest. It’s a low-growing shrub (most commonly no more than 3 feet tall, although older plants can be taller) that suckers to form large colonies. It prefers full to partial shade and is not fussy about soil. I use it to fill in shrub islands: I plant it between and in front of taller shrubs and trees to eliminate bare spots. Because it puts up lots of slender stems, it does a good job of holding groundcover or mulch in place, and it would be an excellent plant to use to hold a slope.
Coralberry blooms in late summer with tiny greenish-white flowers that are inconspicuous to humans but highly attractive to pollinators. According to the Xerces Society, it’s a particularly useful plant for attracting native bees. Add to that its usefulness at providing winter cover and winter color. How about adding some coralberry to your garden next spring?