Every year we like to increase our range of harvestable fruit with a few new plants. In a few weeks, Rich will begin leafing through his stained* collection of catalogues pondering what variety of cider apple trees to add to his mini orchard, while I have already taken delivery of a couple of berry bushes.
This time I’ve looked to North America for inspiration. The popular myth goes that only three fruits are native to that continent – blueberry, cranberry and concord grapes – which is, of course, a load of old cobblers**. But regardless of fruit fact inauthenticity, I’ve decided that the first two of these berry bushes should make their debut in my garden.
Both blueberries and cranberries are part of the ‘vaccinium’ genus of shrubs, which include huckleberries and lingonberries, and tend to prefer acidic soils. In the wild they’ll thrive on heaths or in woodland with the necessary pH levels, but my specimens will have to make do with a bag of ericaceous compost for their acid fix.
Plants are likely to be supplied already potted and could do with being in good condition prior to planting out (I got my perfectly healthy plants online from ‘Gardening Express’ – details below). Cranberries are a low lying plant good for ground cover, so they’ve gone straight into a gap in the garden, while the more upright blueberry has been afforded a more prominent position in a large pot.
Despite their North American origin I see no reason why these beauties shouldn’t survive in my West Country patch and we’ll hopefully have two new flavours to enter the brewing shed next year.
*Leafing excitedly through apple tree catalogues while swigging cider inevitably leads to spillage
**Other North American natives include the increasingly ludicrously named persimmon, buffalo berry and pigeon berry
Note: Gardening Express contacted us to see if we wanted to feature any of their plants on our site. Their timing was impeccable so we took these two off their hands.