Archive for Thursday, August 16, 2007

Raspberries not only for eating - their flowers, too, can be pleasing

August 16, 2007

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Wineberry, shown in this undated photo, is a raspberry native to Japan and China and naturalized in America. Wineberry's flowers aren't going to catch your eye, but its gracefully arching stems will.

Wineberry, shown in this undated photo, is a raspberry native to Japan and China and naturalized in America. Wineberry's flowers aren't going to catch your eye, but its gracefully arching stems will.

Some raspberries are only for eating; others are worth looking at - the plants, that is. And there are two particular kinds of raspberries that are especially good candidates for the flower garden.

You might initially mistake the first, called flowering raspberry or thimbleberry, for a wild rose. Its large flowers, however, have broader petals than a wild rose's, and a purple tinge makes the petals of flowering raspberry downright lurid.

Beautiful flowers and a summer-long season of bloom are two qualities that make a flowering raspberry a good ornamental shrub. Another plus: There's no cause to worry about thorns or having enough sun. This raspberry lacks the former and needs little of the latter.

The other pretty raspberry is wineberry, a native to Japan and China that has naturalized in America. Wineberry's flowers aren't going to catch your eye, but its gracefully arching stems will.

The stems are clothed from head to foot in long, bristly purple hairs which, if you look with a magnifier, you'll see are each capped by a cute little globular gland.

Occasionally you find flowering raspberry or wineberry for sale at a nursery, but the easiest way to get started with either of these raspberries is to propagate them from existing plants.

In early fall or spring, just dig up a clump (with a landowner's permission) and separate it into smaller plants for replanting in your garden. Wineberry stems form roots where the tips arch to the ground, so you could also peg the end of a stem to the ground, then cut off and dig up the rooted plant next spring.

Just as garden raspberries need annual pruning to yield the best fruits, wineberry and flowering raspberry need annual pruning to put on their best show.

All raspberries have perennial roots, but individual stems live only two years. Plants flower in their second year, so each winter cut back any stems that flowered the previous summer. You can recognize old stems by their cracking bark and flower remnants. If any younger stems are overstepping their bounds or looking unruly, cut them, too, of course.

Both wineberry and flowering raspberries also bear edible fruits. Those of flowering raspberry are rather tart and dry, with a flattened shape.

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