In landscaping your B and B grounds, or just your home yard, you may have overlooked a very simple way to make your grounds not only beautiful but edible! With a thought toward supplementing your table offerings with pickings from your landscape, you are utilizing a plant or tree twice, or in the case of grapes, three times(wreaths). Once with its beauty in the landscape, and another time when you offer your guests fresh fruits, nuts or vegetables from your yard.
I am going to showcase a few of the plants that do ‘double-duty’ here at Highland Garden House Bed and Breakfast, in Mount Vernon, WA and list a number of others, that are known to be good candidates. I look to a plant that enhances my yard. A tree or shrub that is not beautiful in its own right is out. For instance, raspberries are a great fruit and do very well in our climate, but they never look like an ‘ornamental.’ They need strong support, are usually grown in rows to facilitate picking, are bare of leaves through the winter with non-descript stickered canes jutting from the ground all winter. But Grapes qualify. They bear great fruits, take on an exotic tropical effect in the summer, you can prune them to any pleasing shape or size and you are in charge of how to prune the gnarly trunks and canes, which create great winter interest. They also produce canes that can be fashioned into wreaths! A 100% choice.
Blueberries: Blueberry bushes look great in the landscape year-around. You can shape them to your liking, they have red twigs in the winter, the shiny green leaves turn blood red in the Fall and the berries are not only very tasty, but have a great reputation as one of the best anti-oxidant foods you can eat. You can freeze them whole and use straight out of the freezer. Full sun, acid soil and average watering.
Grapes: I planted two grape plants about 4 years ago on the south side of the house, and am glad that I did not plant the 6 that I had originally planned! These two plants are HUGE! The canes grow up the palm trees on each end. I did make the choice to provide solid and strong re-bar support at year two. The hot, tropical effect is awesome. These seedless varieties produce abundant fruits in September, and I use the pruned canes to make wreaths in the Fall. See this previous post about Wreaths. Eat fresh or serve at the breakfast table to B and B guests. I run my grapes pretty dry, but I have deep sandy, well drained, soil that allows them to explore for their own water.
Apples: Most apple trees make fine landscape specimens, but you will sacrifice some apple production in your pruning. I look at this as losing a little to gain a little in another way. I shape my tree to fit the space and still get a nice crop of apples, some years. When the blossoms need pollinating, our weather is sometimes too cool to have bee activity, thus a poor fruit set. Other years, like 2013, a bumper crop is produced. The ‘June Drop’ takes care of some of the excess, then I thin out the ‘blems’ to get the best apples to make it to their full ripeness. These fruits will be used the B and B kitchen.
Filberts: I am familiar with the wild ones and the domesticated named varieties. The photo to the left is a wild volunteer hazelnut that I left in my east side thicket. Nuts on these bushes this year, but not many. I also have several ‘contorted’ trees; these are usually grown for their striking contorted limbs and trunk.
Filberts of all varieties sucker freely, so, without removal of these suckers, resemble brush. I like to remove these suckers to give my trees a single trunk habit. As a tree gets older it tends to sucker less. Hazelnut = wild; filbert = domesticated. On the farm on Orcas Island I have about 40 filbert trees that were planted in 1985.
My varieties on Orcas include Barcelona, DuChilly, Butler and Ennis. The Barcelona and DuChilly trees were bought from Tillinghast Seed Company, LaConner, WA in 1977; this is the current location of Seeds, in LaConner. Filberts need a different cultivar nearby to pollinate the catkins in Feb/March. Bluejays love to eat green filberts, so be aware.
Other edible landscape trees that are know to do well in our climate:
Kiwis: A handsome big bush
Figs: huge leaves on a large tree, spreading crown, sweet fruits that take a knack to tell if ripe.
Plums: flowering and fruiting
Cherries: flowering and fruiting
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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