Wednesday, June 24, 2020


Towards the end of strawberry-picking season and before the blueberries start, there is the picking of the Juneberries.

Never heard of Juneberries?  I hadn't either until about three or four years ago.  In fact, 'Juneberry' is a more recent American marketing name for the harder-to-pronounce but much-more-fun name of Saskatoon berry.

Also historically known as pigeon berries or serviceberries, these shrubs are native to North America.  The species commercially grown is Amelanchier alnifolia, which is a close cousin of our Eastern serviceberry (A. canadensis), which commonly grows around here.  The berries are more well-known in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan, which holds a Saskatoon Berry Festival in the town of Mortlach every year (except this year, thanks to Covid-19).

The name of 'Saskatoon' is said to be from the Cree language word misâskwatômina (Mis-sack-qua-too-mina), which means “the fruit of the tree of many branches”.  The city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, has similar origins.  Historically the berries were often used in pemmican, as well as used medicinally for a variety of illnesses.  The berries also feed various wildlife such as birds, squirrels, and bears, and the shrubs are a larval host for several swallowtail butterflies.

Juneberry/Saskatoon berry plants are deciduous and grow in a wide range of soils, though they prefer well-draining spots.  They can be grown as shrubs or small trees and can reach 16 feet tall.  White flowers bloom in spring, followed by the berries in late June or early July.  The berries are very nutritious, containing high levels of protein, iron, calcium, and antioxidants.

picking Juneberries
A local farm started offering Juneberry picking, and last year we tried them for the first time. The taste is said to be sweet with hints of almond and cherry.  The kids especially were excited to try them - but upon tasting them we found them to be not that great raw.  They were sweet, but on the tart side, and rather watery and seedy.  So I baked them into a pie...

Juneberry pie
...and wow.  It was absolutely delicious!  My oldest daughter, who had never cared for a fruit pie in her life, enjoyed it immensely.  One year later, she is still talking about that pie.  This is obviously a fruit that improves upon baking.

Juneberry picking season has just started here, and the farm is letting small numbers of people come pick on appointment, so we will be cautiously venturing out for more Juneberry acquisition.

Wish us luck (and many juneberries/saskatoon berries)!
Happy gardening!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

One Scarlet Poppy

Last year I planted 'Bridal Silk' Shirley Poppies in the gazebo garden.

The pure white annual poppies looked beautiful, a nice foil to lilies and delphinium.

Interestingly enough, one red poppy seed made it into the packet of white poppy seeds.  I was amused and let it be in the garden.

But that one scarlet poppy had an effect. The plants seeded around in the garden, and this year, several of the poppies that came up are... a little different.

A few have blush pink edged petals.


A couple others look even more like (what I'm assuming is) their red-flowered parent.

It is interesting to see what effect just one poppy had on my little garden of flowers.

It makes me wonder what next year's garden would look like if I keep the red and orange ones in, though they do not quite go with my more pastel-themed front garden.

But how beautiful is that?

Happy gardening!

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