Microbiota’s Winter Color Change

You like it or you don’t. For many winters I’ve hated this particular planting of bronze-hued Russian arborvitae (Microbiota decussata) and winterberry (Ilex verticillata), but recently I changed my mind. The old me thought that the bronze microbiota looked drab and sickly (it does), but this year I changed my thinking. Winterberry and microbiota bring color to the winter landscape. The planting, after all, is in southern New Hampshire, where winter used to last five or six months. Seeing the bright red fruits makes me smile, and even if dull olive-bronze and clear red make a jarring pair, the microbiota complements the stone wall over which it drapes. And the pairing doesn’t last all that long. Sooner or later, birds eat the winterberries, and only the bronzy microbiota foliage remains. Both plants are tough, hardy, and relatively care free. So I’m curious. Does this combination appeal to you?

2 Responses to “Microbiota’s Winter Color Change”

  1. Bob Scherer says:

    Hi Penny,
    I’ve never seen them together so I don’t know. It’s an interesting combination from the deer-problem perspective. Winterberry is known to be a favorite of deer, but Russian Arborvitae is the opposite. So – my question to you is – will the winterberry or the Russian Arborvitae prevail in the battle for affection/repulsion?

    I have several Microbiota in my garden. Most winters they are buried in snow so I don’t see the drab & sickly color. In any case they are not in a prominent location for winter viewing.

    I’ve thrown in the towel on winterberry. The deer have consumed the plants down to a 2′ high branch-less stick.

    • Penny OSullivan says:

      We grow many winterberry cultivars. I’ve noticed that turkeys like the berries, but deer have so far not been an issue.

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