Blueberries, my edible ornamental darlings.
“”One berry two berry, pick me a…. blueberry!” Do you remember “Jamberry“, the classic children’s book by Bruce Degen? My kids loved the cheerful illustrations and rhythmic language in that book. When we were planting blueberries this fall for a client on Black Lake, Bruce Degen’s language kept going through my brain. “Hatberry, shoeberry, in my canoeberry!” (I couldn’t resist the way Patty’s canoe creates the perfect color echo for her new blueberries.)
We love to incorporate edible crops into our landscapes! For those who are hands on gardeners with a passion for local food and the time to harvest, cook and process the bounty of their little piece of earth, we design gardens comprised almost exclusively with edible plants and good pollinators. For many others, busy lives mean a food forest isn’t feasible. The edibles in their landscapes must earn their keep in terms of flavor, nutrition, ease of culture, and good looks.
Blueberries WIN in all of these categories. They are lovely plants, with pink or white flowers followed by blue fruits, often stunning fall color, and red stems in winter. They come in a wide variety of sizes, from super dwarf ‘Top Hat’ at just 18″ tall to compact but slightly larger ‘Northblue’ and ‘Northsky’ (pictured above), to the delicious ‘Olympia’, at 4-6 feet tall.
My personal darling is ‘Sunshine Blue’ (photo) because in addition to being highly productive and a very useful size at 3′ tall and wide, they are EVERGREEN! They still get some nice fall color on their leaves, but then the leaves hang on. How cool is that?
There is even a newer cultivar called ‘Pink Lemonade’ with PINK fruits! Fun for surprising your friends. Or perhaps for delighting the ‘pink princess’ in your life.
Blueberries require evenly moist acidic soil and adequate sunshine to produce well, so give them a spot where you can meet their requirements. They typically need to be pollinated by another variety for best production, though some like ‘Sunshine Blue’, are self fertile–another reason I love it. If you choose early, mid-season, and late varieties, you can be filling your cereal bowl and your freezer from late July through late August or early September.
Here is a chart showing fruiting times from Bryant Blueberry Farm: http://www.bryantblueberries.com/Images/PDFs/BryantBlueberries_Plants_InfoChart.pdf
For more information on a great number of good choices for our region, check out Burnt Ridge Nursery: http://www.burntridgenursery.com/fruitingPlants/index_product.asp?dept=31&parent=28