Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Day 244
The Daily DuBrule

Sunday I planted nine blueberry bushes in my yard. Three were a highbush variety called 'Earliblue' which is, of course, early bearing. The other six were 'Tophat', a new hybrid that grows only 18-24" tall and gets full sized berries. I planted these in a newly cleared bed that used to contain gooseneck loosestrife. After two weeks of painstaking digging, I deemed the soil ready.

The purpose of clearing out the gooseneck was not to plant blueberries. It was to plant a peach tree for my husband. But the bed was huge, mostly because the gooseneck had spread an extra 2-3' out into the lawn in the eight years I've lived here. I decided to make this bed yet another edible landscaping project. The peach, the blueberries, and a border of chives created the structure. Very easy care perennials were added to introduce color in other seasons. 

Blueberries are ornamental in every season. In the winter it is easy to recognize their reddish stems in the landscape. I can't tell you how many times I meet a new client and inform them that their woods are filled with native blueberries. In the shade, they don't produce many berries but they are a great plant anyway. Spring brings beautiful white flowers. Often times it's when the native blueberries are in bloom that I spot them. Summer, of course, brings the fruit which I share with the birds. In the photo above, another form of Lysimachia, L. puncata or circle flower, has wandered in amongst my original blueberry patch. Although I have since beaten it back to a smaller clump, it sure looked pretty!
It's in the fall that the real landscape value of blueberries really shines, when their leaves turn bright red. Think about using blueberries in foundation plantings, in mixed shrub borders, even to add structure to perennial beds. They don't just have to be in rows, netted and fenced, to give you flowers, berries, and red foliage. They are ericaceous (acid loving) and can tolerate my wet, heavy clay soil. They don't need it wet, however, and average garden soil will suffice. There are now tall ones and short ones. This week I am using our native lowbush blueberries as a groundcover in the foreground of a shady foundation planting where native plants were required. The enlightened homeowner specifically requested these plants! My crew removed a truckload of English ivy and some very overgrown shrubs to make room for the new design.

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