Friday, 17 January 2014

Unusual fruits for the garden

Why not try something different? Fruit plants guaranteed to excite the imagination – and the pallette – these make an enjoyable change to the norm and are our 5 recommended picks for the keen amateur and more experienced fruit grower alike.
1] JAPANESE STRAWBERRY [Rubus illecebrosus] A very little known Strawberry x Raspberry cross that has resulted in a strangely attarctive small sub-shrubby fruit plant that is hardy for gardens everywhere. The prickly pinnate leaves are held on short 18” or so stems, the large single white flowers appear on and off all summer long, producing sporadic flushes of long brilliant red sweet and juicy fruits, from June to September. The leaves have most attractive orange and red autumn tints. This is an easy to grow plant in any reasonably drained soil, and it will spread.
2] LINGONBERRY [Vaccinium vitis-idaea] A major player in Scandinavia where Lingonberry juice is a big seller, but curiously still finding fans here. This close relative of the Cranberry wins on many fronts. It’s both extremely hardy and rather attractive [infact it has previously been grown purely as a dwarf decorative shrub] Its pearl like white bells flowers appear in May and are set against very glossy deep green evergreen leaves. The brilliant red fruits ripen in Autumn and are so pretty you might not want to pick them! These fruits have an extyremely high vitamin and antixoidant count. They are traditionally made into juice but you could also try them added to yogurts and as a jelly. This plant doesn’t get very big – 18x18” or so and can also be grown in a pot. Needs ericaceous soil.
3] BOYSENBERRY This Blackberry lookalike is legendary for it’s excedingly rich and complex flavour. The thornless growth needs a post/wire support, or the Boysenberry can be grown against a north or east wall. Easy to grow and hardy, the fruits are ideal for dessert or made into amazing jams!
4] JAPANESE WINEBERRY Probably the most decorative of all the wall plants, the Japanese Wineberry is a unique looking fruiting climber that can also be used to utilize a north or east facing wall. Its fuzzy vermillion-bristled stems and deeply veined lime green leaves are a treat to the eye. The orange-red fruits are a treat to the mouth too and it has been said that they achieve a pinnacle of hedonism when springkled with a little red wine! This species looks great in the winter too when it’s red bristled stems can shine in the winter sun. Plant 8’ apart & easy to grow, also a self supporting specimen at the rear of the shrubbery.
5] ASIAN PEAR A cross between and apple and a pear resulted in one of the most distinctive new fruits for many years, the Asian Pear or ‘Nashi’ as it is also known. In looks it resembles a Pear tree but the fruit is a definite cross between apple & pear. Circular, somewhat rough-textured the crisp yet juicy white flesh has a sublime subtle and sweet flavour that is immesneely enjoyable. The fruits ripen to a warm bronzy gold and are ready in October. The tree likes a sheltered aspect in which to grow and will mature to 10-12’.They tend to have a characteristic weeping shape as they mature. The best variety is the self-fertile ‘Shinsieki’. All varieties are self fertile although the crop is further aided by a companion Pear tree.
Pictured is the Lingonberry.

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