, Newburyport, MA

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December 5, 2012

Tim's Tips: Wondering about the winterberry

Where are all the red berries? This has been a common question from all the people who use the red berries, also called winterberry.

The berries are often found on the edges of marshy or other wet areas. Last year, there was a huge amount, but this year, there are very few. I think the reason is multifold.

If you remember back to late last winter, we had a spell of warm weather and there was a lot of concern that a frost might kill the flowers on the apple trees. In some areas, the warmth was followed by cold, and the apple flowers were killed. In our area, this happened with the winterberry. Not all of the plants lost their flowers; many were spared the frost.

At the critical time of flowering; however, bees may not have been able to get out to pollinate. A drier summer also meant that the berries didn’t get the water that they needed to grow to a mature crop. I guess that, ultimately, it all goes back to the weather. I found some berries from one of our wholesalers in Boston, but the supply is pretty limited. If you want berries for decorating, you best grab them soon.

This weekend is usually the most popular time for buying a Christmas tree. When you buy your tree, remember that you need to cut about an inch off the bottom of the trunk. This fresh cut allows the tree to take up water. Once you put the tree in the stand, be sure to fill the stand and keep it full of water.

Trees usually take up a lot of water during their first few days indoors. It is advisable to check the water level twice a day and to add to it as needed. If the tree drains the water out of the stand, the bottom of the tree seals off. You will need to make a new cut in order for it to take up water again. Imagine how much fun it will be to take a fully decorated tree out of the stand and then make a new cut on the bottom of the trunk! As I said, make sure to keep that stand full of water.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.


Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.

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