Winter berries

A painting of winter berries, wet from a recent shower, give welcome colour to a late January scene. Watercolour and coloured pencil on paper – 31 x 23 cm


Here’s a painting of some winter berries, cheering up a late winter scene.

I had grown tired of winter, and the wet mud of late January in England, so these berries drew my eye. They are a species of cotoneaster (Cotoneaster franchetii I think) and their brash scarlet was a welcome relief in the grey misery. The berries have started to split open and they carry water droplets on them from a recent shower. Sometimes the effect of the droplets is to make the berries look peculiarly swollen, as if with some disease. At other times they glitter with reflected light.

Cotoneaster is widely planted now as an ornamental shrub, or as hedging. The genus comes mostly from Asia and has adapted particularly well in some areas of Europe and New Zealand. The term ‘invasive’ is one that I regard with great distaste. There should not be any need to explain why. There is one native cotoneaster in Wales, the appropriately named Cotoneaster cambricus – called in Welsh Creigafal y Gogarth “rock apple of Gogarth”.

I did not realise, until this painting was complete, that it would be a companion to this solitary winter leaf. You might also like these strawberries in a sink.