The variety of berries available at the grocery store is very limited when compared to the large number of berries that grow around the world. Because I grew up in a gardening family, I have had the pleasure of having many rare fresh berries to snack on all summer long. Watching the berries every day as they slowly ripen and finally tasting the delicious flavour of these berries warm from the sun, has always been one of the most exciting things for me every summer. Many berry plants are easy to grow, great for wildlife, look beautiful in the yard, and taste delicious.
Besides the obvious benefits to our taste buds, growing berries also has environmental and landscaping benefits. The flowers, berries, and shrubs provide food and habitat for insects, birds, and other small animals (1). The flowers and berries also add colour and texture to the garden. Even the smallest of gardens can fit in a well groomed berry bush and get lots of fruit from it.
Gooseberry – Bees Love this Abundant Producer
Gooseberries are round berries that somewhat resemble a grape but with lines that run from the top to the bottom of the berry and a small tuft at the bottom. They can be eaten early in the season for a hard sour treat or after they ripen for a sweet and soft berry that isn’t quite like any other thing you have tasted. There are a number of different varieties that ripen to either yellow, green, red, or purple (2).
This bush stays small enough for a small yard and takes well to a lot of pruning if needed. Even if space is not issue in your garden, pruning should be done once a year to ensure air flow and easy harvesting. Some varieties are covered in thorns while others are not, but I have never found the thorns to be a hindrance while harvesting. Early in the spring it is covered with small light yellow flowers that bees absolutely love and soon after the berries cover the bush and can be harvested for more than a month, if you enjoy the early sour berries. This bush is very prolific, providing lots of fruit in a small space.
Currants – Nature’s Sour Candies
Currants are very small round berries that grow in large clusters. They are very sour, often used in jam so that the sugar counteracts the tartness. I however love to take the stem and fill my mouth with these wonderful sour berries. They come in white, red, and black varieties with the white being the mildest in taste (2).
This bush can be kept small with pruning and is very prolific. Even a young plant can provide a large amount of berries to snack on in the garden. But even before the joy of the berries you get to delight in the beautiful flowers that cover the bush which come in white, yellow, or pink.
Jostaberry – A Large Bush Great for Large Yards
Jostaberries are a cross between gooseberries and currants that look much more like a gooseberry with a slightly more tart flavour reminiscent of a currant (3). The berries ripen to a dark blue-black colour.
This plant also grows quite large making it suitable only for larger yards. Once a year pruning is necessary to ensure good air flow and make for easy harvesting. This plant is easy to propagate from cuttings. The best part about the jostaberry is that it is resistant to many of the common problems for berry bushes, such as powdery mildew, fungal dieback, and currant bud mites (3). These large plants start with attractive white and pink flowers and produce lots of berries.
Elderberry – Unique Berries With Medicinal Properties
Elderberries are very tiny dark purple round berries that grow in clusters that almost look like flowers. They have a very unique taste that is a bit tart and can almost be described as medicinal. The berries are often used in making jams, wine, syrup, and pies, but they are one of my son’s favourite fresh and raw off the plant. The flowers are also used for teas that can be helpful for headaches, rheumatism, indigestion, bladder or kidney infections, and more (4).
This bush gets very large. It needs little to no pruning and has beautiful showy white flowers all over early in the season and the dark purple berries, that look just as beautiful, later in the season. It is also especially useful for wildlife. Birds and deer love the berries and small animals love the shelter provided by this large bush (4). The elderberry is a great addition to any large garden especially those going for a natural look.
Serviceberries – Year Round Beauty with Tasty Berries
The serviceberry is a tree or shrub that produces dark blue berries that look similar to a blueberry, but with a milder taste and a thicker skin. The quality of the fruit varies greatly depending on the plant so make sure your tree was grown for fruit, not just for birds. These berries sweet and mild flavour makes them great to enjoy raw, or cook into jam, desserts, or sauces.
Depending on pruning, the serviceberry can either be a tree or a shrub. It is average sized tree that is especially beautiful all year round. It is covered in white flowers even before the leaves are all out, then filled with the dark blue berries, turns a deep red in fall, and has beautiful silvery bark to enjoy in the winter (5). This is a great landscaping tree that can be enjoyed as a food by both humans and birds.
Berry Bushes for a Beautiful and Tasty Garden
Berries make a great addition to any garden allowing the gardener to taste fresh berries that they otherwise would not have the opportunity to try. They are also beautiful plants that are full of flowers and showy berries that attract birds and other wildlife. So whether your motivation is a great garden, or tasty treats, why not plant a berry bush in your garden this year?
Antonia is a science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition. She has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well. Read more by Antonia here, and SUBSCRIBE!