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Garden Experiments 2014: A new type of berry plant

By Penny Stine

I read about a European berry bush that’s related to honeysuckle called honeyberry or haksap, depending on who you talk to. Some people call it an edible blue honeysuckle.
The plant is a perennial that’s supposed to start producing berries by its second year. It’s also supposed to do well in alkaline soil and gardeners were urged to plant it in semi-shady spots in hot climates. Not sure exactly what the berries taste like since the description says they remind some people of blackberries, cherries, kiwis or grapes. 


Naturally, I was intrigued. Our soil is alkaline and my entire garden is semi-shady. So I ordered one from Park Seed.

It came in a box. The box was full of white packing peanuts and one dried up, half-dead plant. The instructions said to plant it right away, but that was the afternoon I was planting carrots, so I didn’t get around to it.

 

 

I did, however, put the container outside in a spot that’s semi-shady in a bowl of water so the roots could possibly be revived.


 

 

 

I was hoping a couple of days in the semi-shade with water would perk that poor plant back up. When nothing did, I decided I may as well plant it.

Here’s the bed I decided to use. It’s fairly sunny in the winter and early spring, with a large tree directly to the east that shades it in the summer and fall. The tree produces those annoying black bean pods (which you can see all over the bed!) It's also one of the slower ones to get leaves, which means more mid to late spring sunshine. I think that will be good, since sun isn’t too hot right now and the bush flowers and produces berries early - and that’s when sunshine is essential.


Right now, the bed has garlic, kale, columbine, lovage and that stupid flower, love-in-a-mist. I’m pulling out the love-in-a-mist whenever I think about it, while letting everything else live.


For now, at least. I’m thinking the columbine is gonna be a goner soon.


After I ordered my one honeyberry bush from Park, I continued to read and saw that pollination and berry production was enhanced by having two different types of honeyberry bushes.
I was at Valley Grown Nursery for a story and was chatting new plants with the owner and she told me that they were going to get some honeyberry bushes in this year. So rather than order another one from Park seed that comes fully dehydrated, I’ll wait and buy one from Valley Grown.

This is what it looked like after I got it planted.

 

Better, but it still looks half dead.  

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