A few weeks ago I ordered a few little trees from Oikos Tree Crops. When I choose trees and shrubs for my landscaping design I have but one thought in my mind while selecting, “Will I be able to eat from it?”. I did a lot of researching on what I wanted and I ordered the following:
Asiminia triloba Pawpaws are a native fruit to North America and highly undergrown. The fruits cannot be purchased at a grocery store because they have a shelf life of about 2 days. Therefore, in order to enjoy this banana-mango custard-like fruit you either have to have a friend who grows them or you must grow them yourself. They can be difficult to get started but after a few years they become a “set it and forget it” tree. Grows 4′-6′ tall and wide. Deer Resistant. Large green oblong type leaves. Can grow up to 25′. Fruits in the fall. Zone 5-8. Need 2 for cross pollination.
Aronia melanocarpa The Nero Chokeberry has edible blueberry sized fruit that are very tart. They have high levels of antioxidants. Eaten fresh they will make you pucker but when prepared with apple, plum or blueberries the flavor mellows and makes a wonderful jelly or wine. Grows 4′-6′ tall and wide. Leaves turn bright red in the fall. Zone 3-4. Need at least 2 for cross polination.
Amelanchier Laevis. Also called Shadbush. This species is considered one of the best for human consumption. Bears large blueberry sized fruits that can be eaten fresh if the birds don’t get them first! Grows 20-40′ high & 15-20′ wide. Orange bronze leaves in the spring, followed by white blossoms, then dark-purplish fruits in midsummer. Hardy to Zone 2.
Cornus Mas This fun bush falls under the dogwoods but with the joy of edibility. Fruits are eaten fresh, dried, preserved in syrup, wine, sauces. Similar in flavor to a very tart cherry. This bush produces a neverending show with bright yellow flowers in March, followed by dark red fruits, and finally reddish-purple fall foliage. Height to 20′ with equal width. Hardy to Zone 3.
As you can see I am starting with some pretty tender baby trees and bushes here. I chose to go with babies on these trees and shrubs because they are highly adaptable to a variety of soils, including the clay in my yard, and the younger they are planted the easier it is for them to adapt. Also, I am on a budget and bigger trees range from $40-$70. I ordered 2 pawpaws, 3 chokeberries, 1 serviceberry, and 1 Cornelian cherry for less than $65 shipping included. I am not finished with my edible shrubs yet. It is hard to find the best varieties for optimal food production. I don’t understand why edible landscape plants are so hard to find, but I have searched a good portion of Cleveland, OH nurseries and about the only edible shrubs I can find are blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. While fun to grow and eat they are not real conducive to a suburban front yard landscape and they don’t perform well in clay. Therefore, I am still searching for the following:
- ‘Regent’ Juneberry aka Saskatoon or Serviceberry (Amelanchier ainifolia): A compact shrub that produces dark blue fruit. Excellent for those who enjoy blueberries but don’t have the type of ground to grow them. The fruit can be used the same way. Saskatoons have ten times more vitamin C than blueberries. Height and width to 6-10 ft. Zone 2
- ‘Borealis’ and ‘Berry Blue’ Honeyberries (Lonicer caerulea): Need both varieties for pollination. Grows 8’x8′ similar to a highbush blueberry but tolerant of a variety of soils (again I have clay), with sweet-tart oblong blue furits. Zone 2.
- ‘Adam’ and ‘Jones’ Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis): I think most people are familiar with elderberries, but are used to foraging for them in the woods. However, they can be grown in a home garden. I sure would like to make some elderberry wine 😛
Since I was so cheap on the shrubs and other trees, I decided I will be splurging on 2 apple and 3 pear trees and I am having them professionally planted to increase the chances of those bigger trees adapting and surviving. The difficulty again is in finding the varieties I want. I have found and ordered the variety of apples I want but I will have to wait until late summer for them. I am still looking for the pear trees…