The 5 Best Hybrid Berries
For those who love to try the more unusual fruits these recommendations will be of special interest.
The key is all in the title; ‘hybrid berries’ being usually specially raised varieties from two parents. This small and select group often get forgotten because they do not ‘fit in’ to any of the more recognised and popular groups. But you could be missing out on something special as the following 5 nominations confirm. These all have something special about them, and qualities that ought to recommend them to any gardener! Infact, I had trouble shortlisting just 5, but this was eased slightly by being in the privileged position of being able to grow them all!
1] THE THORNLESS BOYSENBERRY
The Boysenberry has achieved a certain level of esteem. The fruits are superficially in taste and flavour, like a really good blackberry. But to sample a perfectly ripe specimen is a revelation for there is a certain subtle aromatic quality to the flavour that raises it above the average blackberry. The stems are completely smooth, making this an easy to train fruit. Grow it just as you would a Blackberry – training along post and wire, or grow it against a wall. Even a North or East facing wall will do. The canes should be cut back to the base after fruiting has finished in September. Plant 8’ apart; it has been said that jam made from the Boysenberry is the finest of all.
2] THE MEDANA TAYBERRY
Possibly the only hybrid berry to achieve wider popularity, which eprhwpas speaks volumes of it’s star quality. This cross between a hybrid blackberry and a raspberry has yielded stunning results. The Tayberry is quite unique, if I had to compare it to anything, it would be the Loganberry, although the fruits are Logan-shaped and a deep claret purple in colour, there the similarities end. The Tayberry has berries that are much larger, the flavour is stunning, powerful and distinct, irresistible eaten fresh but versatile too and perfect for pies and jams. They freeze really well which is a good thing because this plant is extraordinarily heavily yielding. A mature plant can be simply smothered in fruit! The canes are bristly with spines, but not terrifyingly so. It needs some support, like a blackberry but isn’t fussy about where it grows. Plant 8’ apart. If you haven’t grown the Tayberry yet – you should. Make sure you plant only selected plants grown from the foundation Medana prefix stock. Inferior strains are available.
3] THE JAPANESE STRAWBERRY
A name that was shamefully coined on the Nurserya few years ago that doesn’t seem to have any basis in fact, but this rather lovely small and easily accommodated little fruiting plant deserved a snappier moniker than it’s latin mouthful, which is Rubus illecebrosus! So maybe we are forgiven. A cross between a Strawberry and a Raspberry sounds like a match made in heaven and so it proved. This is a low bushy little sub shrub which may disappear completely in winter but invariably springs back with restrained vigour each spring. It only grows about 12” in height but will spread, it’s pretty pinnate leaflets and large white flowers are quite attractive as is the brilliant autumn foliage. The fruits can ripen in succession throughout the summer, are a very brilliant red and sweet and juicy. Suitable for the border front, or container, it’s easy to grow in any reasonably drained soil and well worth a punt!
A Blackcurrant x Gooseberry cross, which resulted in a bush that leans on the side of the Blackcurrant parent. It should be grown and pruned in just the same way. The fruits are like a blackcurrant and suited to the same uses, but sweeter and much larger. The bush is vigorous and should be spaced about 6’ apart and shows very useful resistance to Mildew.
5] JAPANESE WINEBERRY
Rubus phoeniciolasius! Quite likely the most attractive fruiting plant you will ever grow, infact it has been planted purely as an ornamental ‘though it would be a shame to waste the lovely vermillion button-like fruits which ripen in August. Sweet and tasty but not especially memorable except that they are said to reach their perfection when sprinkled with a little red wine which sounds like a wholeheartedly attractive idea! The main stems are densely bristly with brilliant orange red hairs. This is what makes the bush so attractive, and is especially a feature during the winter time. The lime green veined leaves are nice too and usually display good autumn colours. The bush may be grown as a free standing specimen at the back of the border, or trained against a wall. It doesn’t mind too much shade. Plant 6-8’ apart, the height is about the same.
So that’s my roundup and personal 5 favourites of the more unusual fruits you can grow. I’d be glad for your suggestions or comments.
Picture 1 Boysenberry:
Picture 2 Japanese Wineberry: