Monday, April 30, 2012

Fruitscaping: Introduction

The following is a reprint of an article I wrote for Gardening for the Prairies, Winter 2012. Over the next few days in time for planting season, I'll publish the list of fruit options you might consider when making landscaping decisions. Planting prairie fruit doesn't have to be limited to the veggie patch or a brambling batch of raspberries in the alley. In this series, we'll look at fruit you can use for ground cover, vertical cover, screens, feature plantings... When it comes to fruit-scaping, thanks to the U of S's many new fruit varieties, us northern gardeners are limited by our imagination, not our Northern climate!

Accompanied by my daughters, summer mornings begin with a stroll around our small urban lot. We scan for new flowers and interesting bugs as I grip my coffee. They grip their buckets and into these we drop our breakfast: berry treasures ripe to bursting.

Eager for more of these delicious harvests, I’ve begun to landscape my yard differently. Instead of grass, I’ve planted strawberries. In between hostas, I’ve planted honeyberries. Next to Virginia Creeper, I’ve trellised grapes. In every prairie yard, there is the potential for a fruit paradise. Thanks in large part to work at the University of Saskatchewan, every year larger and sweeter prairie-hardy fruit varieties are developed.

“There is major growth in demand for edible landscaping,” says The Urban Farmer, Ron Berezan. “Many people are beginning to want a beautiful and functional yard- a garden sanctuary where food grows too.”

Landscaping with fruit offers exciting possibilities for gardeners wanting to experiment with edibles outside the traditional garden box. “There is an incredible selection of hardy fruit for the prairies, people just don’t know about them,” says Shannon Dyrland, owner and operator of Shallow Creek Nurseries. “Prairie fruit flavours are intense and robust. Despite what many think, new varieties are exceptional for eating fresh from the bush.”  (INTERESTING FACT: Prairie fruit will almost always be smaller than the commercial varieties. They will also always have a seed or a pit.)

Check in tomorrow for the first in a short list of the more interesting and delightful hardy fruit you might consider planting this season.  

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