Our favorite fruit shrub here in the nursery will always be the blueberry! It is a fruit that belongs to the heath family, whose cousins also include azaleas, rhododendron and huckleberries. Our weather patterns and acidic soil make the Northwest a great place to grow this natural “super food” plant. Full of antioxidants, natural fiber and vitamin C, the blueberry would make a great addition to the backyard landscape. Blueberry varieties range in size, color, flavor, harvest time and ornamental value. In the past few years, new varieties including the Pink Lemonade Blueberry have been introduced with wonderful results! A pink blueberry that holds its pink color even when cooked, with a sweet taste and good size. Other favorites include, Blue Crop, Blue Ray and Chandler. The fall foliage color, which is a beautiful vibrant red, is almost as spectacular as the food value! Be sure to plant blueberries with lots of organic matter in a well-drained sunny area of the garden. They need ample water during the growing season, but never constant wet feet. Do not use manures since they tend to make the soil alkaline. A good organic fertilizer like EB Stone’s Rhododendron, Azalea & Blueberry fertilizer for acid plants is a great choice for the organic gardener.
Raspberries are another favorite local fruit from the bramble family, with Meeker and Willamette topping the list as long time favorites and great performers. This fruit requires posts strung with sturdy wire for years of easy growing, pruning and harvest. Fresh from the garden raspberries are far superior to any store bought varieties unless you are buying fresh and local.
Other favorites include currents which provide outstanding color in our gardens in early February when it’s a little bleak and dreary in the PNW! A favourite for the hummingbirds, King Edward and Brocklebankii are just 2 great performers for our area. Brocklebankii has chartreuse leaves and pink flowers, and King Edward sports bright pink flowers that do well in full sun to part shade. Gooseberries are another good choice for berries in your yard. You can mix either one of these shrubs into the landscape and enjoy years of beautiful spring color, interesting fruit and outstanding fall color!