Friday, May 10, 2013

Some Native Berry Plants

I'm giving Lingonberries, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, another try. Years ago I planted some next to the Gooseberry/Currant shrubs but the area proved to be too dry over the summer time and they were dead within the year. They were just four plants that came in 4" pots but were obviously recent cuttings that had rooted because it was just one little stem poking out of the ground. So I decided to try them again, and somehow or other I ended up buying 18 of them! This is excessive even for me and my plant spending habits, though I want to say the bill was something like $60 in total so that's at least an okay deal. The plants arrived in 4" pots (from a different nursery) and looked like very healthy Box Wood-like plants. So I'm very happy with what I got in the mail. From planting them I see they spread some by underground runners so they might eventually pay for themselves. I've planted them into two groups, one is sunny and damp, while the other is shaded, slightly dryer, and also right next to the garden hose. Their flowers are very much like the white bells we see on blueberries, but with earthy orange and red pollen inside. 

Lingonberries are native to the US, despite how prized they are in Scandinavia. Though I'm sure some variation of them must occur in northern Europe and Asia. Basically they're like a cranberry and I'm told with a similar flavor. Unlike cranberries though, these should flower twice a year and produce two crops of berries each year! I had thought this was universal but I notice it's not listed for all varieties making me think it could have been bread out of some cultivars or not a trait in all species, hmm.... 

My Blueberry shrubs are also flowering, though I don't believe I'll be getting as many berries as I got last year. One of the six plants actually died. The ones that remain have dead limbs on them that I believe I should prune off. For as much as I love blueberries, I sure wish I could grow them better. I do add acidity to the soil each spring and autumn, but it doesn't seem to be enough. Hopefully it's just them establishing their first year.

The Gooseberry/Currants flowered too. I think this is one of the western varieties I bought a few years ago. They really took their sweet time just growing to be waist high, but are now flowering at pretty much everywhere that pushed out a leaf. They're very productive plants when they get going.   

One variety that was supposed to be 'Pixwell' but clearly isn't, is already puffing up its berries. These turn into bright red orbs like Red Currant if I recall right. I'm reasonably sure this is Red Currant, which is probably one of the few plants I complain about the most. Their berries are very tart and sometimes bitter, and yet they're addictive. In other words the perfect plant for your masochistic grandmother.