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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day and Fall Fruits

Happy Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!  Join the many gardeners for bloom day on May Dreams Gardens and thanks again, Carol, for hosting!   I like the blooms best on my Christmas cactus also, except I think it was a Veteran's Day Cactus this year.
I use my concrete east-facing porch for overwintering things in pots, here are some pansies that didn't get set out yet, left from my Swedish Mother-in-law's 100th birthday celebration-
My tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is blooming its small fall blooms-
And surprise, one of my 10 year old Camellia sasanqua's, Apple Blossom, is finally setting some blossoms, still buds,  though Yuletide seems to have none.
An alpine strawberry has a few blooms, I'm starting a lot more of these for next year-
Marie Pavie rose blooms on in the cold-
But main attractions at this time of year are the late fruits.  Here is the decorative inedible berries of Viburnum davidii-
There are a few fruits ripening earlier this month that round out the gardening year, and provide some special tastes when everything else is gone.  Pawpaws, Asimina triloba,  are a real treat.   They are the largest native North American fruit, an important fall food to the early settlers and the Lewis and Clark expedition.    They are lower in water content than most fruits except the similar in consistency banana.    The other members of the Custard Apple family are tropical, and Pawpaws have an alluring tropical taste.    I can tell when they are ready to pick because they start falling on the ground.  At that point they are still hard and green, but I check them often for softening, at which point they are ready to eat.  I have two large seedling trees from Burnt Ridge Nursery, but strangely only one fruits.  Perhaps its pollen is not compatible with the other tree.  I also have a small 3' grafted tree which grows very slowly and has not flowered yet; perhaps when it does it can pollenate the other tree.
Another fruit ripening late and able to go through some frosts is the hardy kiwi, Actinidia arguta.  It has much the taste and internal appearance of the larger fuzzy kiwi, but doesn't need peeling.  Male and female plants are separate so a male is required.   I grow them without a trellis, just supported by a very tall heavy T-post, and allowed to weep in an umbrella-shape.  They will grab onto any nearby tree.  A strong trellis would make them much easier to manage.
Another fruit that is very late and variable in ripening so only part are ripe at present and many are green, is the native Huckleberry.    I have a transplanted bush from the Olympic Peninsula, and it is quite large now and bears heavily on the end of branches.
It is very fiddly to pick the berries, they are very close and with short tight stems, and not all ripe at the same time.  Plus there are little dried brown mummy berries mixed in and abundant spiders hiding on the stems that fall into the bucket, and refuse to come out again.  So the picked berries require picking through to clean.  
Not so the wonderful Aronia, which seemed to start getting black earlier this year, and are a little over the hill by November.  Plus I didn't get around to picking the berries in the top of the bush since I needed more room in my freezer, and the birds or squirrels managed to strip the remaining berries off the bush.   But the Aronia berries are such a dream to pick, in nice discrete clusters hanging from a single stem, all ripe at the same time on the whole bush.
A very late ripener, still green, is the Azarole, Cragtaegus azarolus.  I hope the weather will permit them to ripen.
That wraps things up from the PNW, cold and expecting snow at higher elevations. 


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