Friday, May 11, 2012

Fruitscaping Ideas: Trees and Possibilities for Hedgess

 -Dwarf Apple- There is a growing number of options in dwarf apple trees. These trees generally grow to a maximum height of 8 to 10 feet high- perfect for the small yard. The great thing about apple trees, besides the fruit, is that they respond well to pruning. A small tree can become even smaller! Apple trees can even be trained to grow in 2-3 foot tall hedges- a perfect border for an herb garden. As varieties go, I've been very happy with my September Ruby variety: exceptional for fresh eating and baking.

 -Pears- Reliable varieties of pears grow in the prairies, though the jury is still out on whether any are good for fresh eating (my sister-in-law has a very good unknown variety in her Edmonton backyard). Pear trees are often too large for an average-sized yard (especially as two are required for pollination) however they are amazingly versatile. They graft well onto apple trees and can be espalied to beautiful effect along walls and arbours.

-Beech Hazelnut- Hazelnuts are delicious fresh or dried. Grown in the form of a multi-stemmed tree or bush, it tops out at 15 to 18 feet. The Urban Farmer suggests trying the new crosses from the University of Saskatchewan. Crossing European with native cultivars, the new variety is called “Filazel”.


-Saskatoons- In the wild these fruit are often small and seedy but cultivated varieties can be as large as a blueberry, super sweet plus they pack a nutritional punch. Per 100 grams, they easily beat blueberries in their protein, fibre, iron, potassium and vitamin C levels.   Saskatoons also make a great hedge. Dyrland recommends trying Nelson, Honeywood, Thiessen.

- Sour Cherries- Don’t let the name scare you, new varieties like Juliet, Cupid and Crimson Passion are easily eaten fresh from the bush. Cherries can be trained into a hedge, a tall bush or a single trunk tree. Water well and harvest when the fruit easily falls. For the best preserves, Dyrland recommends Carmine Jewel. For proven fruit production and size, Sunstar Nurseries recommends planting an Evans.

If you can recommend any varieties, please do so in the comments section!

This reprint is part 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 patch 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!

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