Leycesteria formosa

Pheasant berry

This has to be the best value shrub in my garden. Just now the purple berries are starting to darken to almost black, bringing this year-rounder to its peak. The year starts with brilliant green leaves emerging: later in the summer they develop a purplish tinge. The flowers start appearing early – about June – in fountains of raspberry ice bracts held demurely under the leaves, each one harbouring a tiny, relatively insignificant white flower. The flowers, though, develop into these fabulous, luscious berries which last well into autumn – unless, of course, you have pheasants in the area, in which case you’ll be besieged. The interest lasts through winter, too, as the vibrant green stems stand right through till spring. All this for the price of a little pruning in spring (remove about a third of the oldest branches to keep the youngest, brightest stems) – this is truly a plant which has it all.