I had read about this plant in seed and garden catalogs, and it has been on my 'some day' list for a while. It's a small, shrubby plant, actually, it's a Honeysuckle, that originates from Siberia. It produces a cylindrical, deep blue/purple berry that is edible, and supposed to taste a lot like blueberries. In our alkaline soil, blueberries are difficult to grow. On the other hand, you have to have two varieties of Honeyberry for cross pollination, and starter plants run about $20 apiece. Since I don't know if they'll do well here, they have remained on the 'some day' list.
Enter Freecycle. A lady offered two Honeyberry plants because she only does container gardening, and they don't really produce enough to warrant the space they are taking up in her garden. She was pretty specific in her posting - if you don't know what these are, don't say you want them. If you haven't been gardening for a while in this climate, please don't take these just because they are free. So, I wrote her, described our experiences here, and we arranged for pickup this past Saturday.
I have never done container gardening. I really wish I had taken my camera with me, because her garden is truly amazing! She lives a little bit up in the mountains, pretty much on a rock face. There is no soil, so she has containers everywhere, bursting with flowers, herbs, vegetables - she even has dwarf fruit trees in pots! Her 'pots' are those 18 gallon size Rubbermaid containers. I was truly amazed at the variety of beautiful, healthy things she is growing there. (Again, I wish I had taken my camera!)
So, we put the Honeyberries in my truck, then she gave me a full tour of her gardens. I met her sweet dog (who insisted I throw his tennis ball every few minutes) and all her adorable cats, including Boris, who just had surgery and must remain indoors, but kept finding his way out to sun on a rock (hee hee!). As we walked through the garden, she offered me a couple of other things too, so now I have starts for a really tall, gorgeous variety of Catmint and a deliciously fragrant medicinal herb called Sweet Annie.
I took her a couple bars of homemade soap as a token 'thank you'...but the more we talked, the more we clicked. I have some 5 gallon size nursery containers that we got when we purchased trees or shrubs, so she is going to drive out here one day soon, see our place and get the containers. Come fall, I've offered to bring her some apples, provided we get through the season without too much hail or squirrel damage. We're going to keep in touch regarding plants and gardening and all that. I meet the nicest people on Freecycle!
Oh, and the Honeyberries? They are beautiful plants, and they had some berries on them. I tasted a couple, and they are very much like blueberries. Little "Eagle Eye" spotted every berry that remained, and ate them all. The next morning, she checked the plants again, and she was sad that there weren't more berries for her. Patience, grasshopper!
These are the plants:
And the berries:
And a certain Someone searching for every berry she can get hold of!
We haven't put them in the ground yet. I'm doing a little more research about what they like and don't like as far as sun exposure and shade are concerned. For now, we have them in the containers, nestled between some lilac bushes and some juniper trees. They seem pretty happy there...and it may become their permanent home. Meanwhile, I'm looking into air-layering to propagate more plants of both varieities. Eventually, I'd love to have several!