Good Gardening with Mark Curtis: October 2018

01/10/18 News
You may have got ‘baked off' with the garden this summer, but the changing seasons gives us – and garden friends – a feast of berries to enjoy. 
Let's not forget those lovely blackberries that can uplift the autumn apple pie. No need for little fingers to get prickled either – Blackberry ‘Oregon Thornless' with its big juicy fruits in early September is almost evergreen. 
Not from America, as you may have thought, but an old English variety discovered in leafy Surrey in 1770. It has an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS to its credit. Variety ‘Merton Thornless' is compact with shorter canes, perhaps more suitable for the smaller garden.
If you enjoyed the series ‘Victoria' on the telly you might consider one of the Queen's favourites – the Chilean guava. She had them sent up from Cornwall for her table. In the garden they prefer a sheltered location. If you have a few you can make jam with them or they can be eaten raw or baked in muffins. Packed with super fruit ingredients, I’ve heard they’re even good in gin!
If you are near to the sea you might consider Sea Buckthorn Hippophae ‘Leikora' with orange berries. They’re rich in vitamin A, C and E, but you will need to plant a male (‘Pollmix') nearby. With their long, spiky thorns, they’re good as a protective boundary hedge too.
A berry that always reminds me of the violet-purple of the Cadbury foil wrapper is Callicarpa, whose name actually means in Greek, ‘beautiful fruit'. It has an Award of Garden Merit, but the berries are non-edible. 
A useful one for the partial shady spot is Symphoricarpos. It’s a deciduous shrub, but the berry decorates for longer, as they are not usually pecked off by the birds. There are a range of berry colours. However, autumn is a feast for all, so don't miss the abundant berried Firethorns (Pyracantha) or Cotoneasters off your list.
Mark Curtis
Plant Manager, Tates of Sussex

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