Someone asked me last evening if there were any new and exciting plants I happened to be jiving over; ones that may be coming to a public garden near year you in 2018. I thought a moment, picturing the very LONG list of plants coming to Wellfield Botanic Gardens in 2018, as we plant two new sizable gardens, and one elongated (there’s a little botany humor for you) to the top of the list.
Prunus maritima, or beach plum, is an extremely cold hardy (USDA Zone 3), compact shrub which grows quite nicely in pure sand. This is good news for Wellfield Botanic Gardens, which has a pretty sandy, gravelly soil. This small stone fruit, a favorite of wild fruit collectors along the northern Atlantic seaboard, is great for jams and jellies as well as fresh eating. I will have to wait to judge the taste for myself when ours start to produce.
There are some other cool native members of the plum genus. Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red’, growing in Wellfield’s Sensory Garden, is a purple leafed version of the native chokecherry. There are a number of pros and cons to this tree. The flowers are very showy and fragrant, the sharp tasting fruit are great for jams and jellies, and birds love them. There are even a few planted in Elkhart Civic Plaza downtown. With all those cool features listed on the window sticker, you would think it would be in every plant dealership around, but not so much. This plant has a rap sheet that I shall leave you to explore on your own.
The American plum, Prunus americana, grows in Wellfield’s Woodland Conservation Garden as an understory shrub or tree. It too produces an edible fruit best processed for the spreadable culinary arts.
I will leave you with one more native Prunus to consider in this winter prunus post. Prunus munsoniana, or wild goose plum, is a species not currently featured in Wellfield’s collection, but it is an interesting one to try out. Supposedly, a hunter found a seed in a goose’s crop and planted it – or so goes the story of this species’ sobriquet. Oikos Tree Crops (who provided the photo of beach plum provided above) notes Prunus Munsoniana is a species “plum” for fruiting seedlings without sprays, and it provides great eating fresh off the plant.