By Steffie Littlefield
Gardening is cultivating the bounty that nature provides. A gardener experiences the pleasures of a garden with the senses; seeing color and form, smelling perfume like fragrances, feeling fuzzy or rough foliage and bark, hearing the breeze rustle tall grasses, and tasting the sweet juicy fruits of summer. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and grapes are all delicious healthy fruits that are easily grown in a backyard garden. These plants are not only edible but also add lots of ornamental interest to the garden. All have charming spring and early summer flowers, will grow to become medium size shrubs for screening or in the case of grape vines, up a trellis or arbor to provide shade and privacy, and each has an appealing fall color and texture.
Of course the real fun is the fruit. In the spring, bright shiny red strawberries are low to the ground waiting for a child to discover them. Raspberries and blackberries are so prolific about the 4th of July, they produce more red or black berries on their long arching canes than you can harvest. Blue and purple blueberries are the most thrilling sight in tight clusters covering the 4-5 foot rounded shrubs. Different varieties have berries that ripen early, mid or late summer. Later in the summer and in fall, grapes dangle in clusters of gold, red or black from their sturdy fast-growing vines. Grapes are categorized as either table grapes for eating fresh or wine grapes for crushing and fermenting. Both are easy to cultivate in a home garden. Ask your garden center for proper planting instructions, as some fruiting shrubs have special soil or pH requirements that are best accommodated at planting.
Gardening has many dimensions and growing edible plants in the landscape is just another gift that nature provides. Experience your garden to the fullest; you’ll be healthier and spiritually fulfilled for the effort.
More Info on Brambles ‘n’ Berries
If you’re interested in growing berries or grapes – even fruit trees – in your home garden, an excellent resource for information can be found in the guide, Growing Fruit for Home Use, published by the Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, a part of the Department of Agriculture at Missouri State University-Mountain Grove Research Campus. The Experiment Station is dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the Missouri fruit crop industry, and conducts plant science research programs as well as advisory programs in commercial fruit crops and public education.
Steffie Littlefield is a horticulturist and garden designer at Garden Heights Nursery. She has degrees from St Louis Community College at Meramec and Southeast Missouri State University and is a member of the Gateway Professional Horticulturist Association (GPHA) and past president of the Horticulture Co-op of Metro St Louis.