Kitchen Gardening

Fruiting Shrubs are Easy to Grow

Gardeners can’t live by vegetables alone; we need fruit, too. Shrubs that produce small fruits are easy to grow and provide many benefits. Here are two of my favorites.

Serviceberries are easy to grow and make a delicious summer treat.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

Why plant an ordinary shrub when you can plant one that offers a little something for everyone?

By everyone I mean you, your landscape and all the critters that might fly by. Native shrubs that have been bred to produce fruit make some of the best plants to add to your garden. Not only do these shrubs fill in spaces in the landscape, most offer three seasons of interest, too.

One of my favorites is the Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia). This shrub is one of the first to flower in spring, while the branches are still bare. Then shiny green leaves appear before small juicy berries begin to form.

Those berries are sweet and delicious, if I get to them before the robins do. The birds love the berries and provide a summer’s day of entertainment as they swoop from tall trees and into the shrub. I can always tell when they’re berry hunting, because the shrub’s branches start moving wildly around.

Another nice serviceberry feature is the leaves take on a beautiful orange red fall color. And the skeleton form gives snow clumps something to hang onto in winter.

My other favorite native fruiting shrub is clove currant (Ribes odoratum). This shrub showed up in my landscape on its own, probably planted by a helpful bird. Because it’s known for suckering, I’ve been able to dig small starts to replant throughout the landscape.

The currant is a beautiful shrub, with long arching branches. In spring those branches are loaded with yellow flowers that are fragrant with the scent of cloves. The fruits are worth having fingers turn purple in the picking, and there are usually more than enough to share with squirrels and birds. I’ve used the currants to dry to add to baked goods, but also to turn into a delicious liqueur called Crème de cassis.

There are other terrrific small fruits that are easy to grow, like gooseberry and goji berry.

What favorite fruiting shrub is in your landscape?

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