Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I wanted to plant bushes of some sort near one corner of the fence this spring. While trying to decide what to plant, I read about Saskatoons. Saskatoons are edible, they should grow well here and they weren't very expensive at all (I think they cost me about $8 for the pair after discounts), so I decided to try them. Gurney's markets them as a blueberry for the west as they live in alkaline soils. I figured if I didn't like them, the birds would and I'd still have bushes that bloom, fruit and have nice fall color.

For those unfamiliar, Saskatoons (Amelanchier) are also known as Serviceberry, Shadblow or Juneberry. I'm not absolutely positive that these are all 3 the same thing, but everything I found sure makes it sound like they are, or they are very close. They grow as an erect shrub to about 20' tall (taller in rich soils). Compact clusters of fragrant flowers appear in spring followed by sweet, blue berries in summer and long lasting orange-red fall color. They are native to the western United States and Canada.

I tried to highlight the Serviceberry in this photo from the Xeriscape gardens for an idea of how they look when more mature though it's still hard to distinguish between it and the bush behind it..

For my $8, I received two little Saskatoon sticks, one of which bloomed in early June. They have chicken wire around them so the dogs don't accidentally run them over. They are still really hard to see.

View from above...

I wandered out to check on my little sticks today and look what I found!

I picked the two ripest berries to taste-test. I had been told they have pretty big seeds for a little berry, so I cut one open to look before I ate it.

Compared to a currant (which have huge seeds if you've never eaten them), the seeds aren't too bad, but there seem to be 4 seeds per berry, to they are certainly noticeable. Probably twice the size of raspberry seeds. These two tasted pretty good. They may have been a little over-ripe, but not bad at all. They didn't have a really strong flavor and I'm not sure how to describe it. even though I went back and picked the two next-ripest berries. Maybe when I have more of a handful to eat, I'll come up with something. For now, the best I can do is they were sweet and un-offensive though the seeds were certainly noticeable (I ate some & spit some). So far they look like they'll be productive though. This fruiting plant isn't even 3' tall yet.

On another note, look what the cat found the other day. I actually saw one toad last year and was so surprised to find one out here in the dry prairie. This year might be nicer for them (I'm guessing, I don't really know) as we've had a lot more moisture. This guy is a little messy looking since he had crammed himself between a clay saucer with a few plants awaiting their big move to the new flower garden and the exterior wall of the garage where the spider (whom I need to eyeball - it looks to be a black & shiny one) lives. Mr. Toad is traveling with some bug bodies stuck to him.

Since my darlin' Annie was trying to smack him on the head and if he moved from his spot wedged behind the saucer he would be sitting in the hot mid-day sun on the sidewalk, I nudged him into an empty pot and moved him to the cooler ground under the little lilac. The cat found him again so she had to go inside. Sometime after I went inside, Mr. Toad moved on. Who could blame him? Maybe next year he'll find some nice spots to hide in the new perennial garden and he'll decide to stay a while.
Posted by Picasa


Ribbit said...

Very cool toad! I feel a slight kinship with him. :)

Those berries look yummy. It's a beautiful color berry if nothing else.

Toni said...

Amy, I have the same toad in my strawberry patch!!!

What an interesting berry bush! Excellent price too!!! Bet that would grow very nicely here in Wyoming too! The berries sure look pretty... bet they'd make a good jelly.

Has it been cool there like it has here in Wyoming? I'm even seeing some trees turning!

Shawn Ann said...

I want more toads in my garden too. Last year I had one that stayed their all summer but he had a wounded leg, poor thing. I don't know what became of him! He needs to come and eat all those bugs!

Amy said...

Ribbit- Did you have the "Frog & Toad are Friends" books when you were a kid? :-)

Toni- they should grow there I'd think. We were warm last week but it's been cold & rainy all day today - we're finally up to 59* and it's almost 4 pm. I can see some sunshine out there finally.

Shawn Ann, I know what you mean! Sometimes out here it seems like we have a lack of wildlife (except rabbits, we have lots and lots of those) so when something different like a toad wanders through, I'm happy to see it.

Toni said...

Hi Amy! I'm thinking about buying 4 saskatoon blueberry bushes.

Did you get a lot of berries last year... well.. probably not because they were newly planted.

Well, Gurney's has them on sale... so thinking of getting some!

Amy said...

Hi Toni,
I got the Saskatoons from Gurney's. They're just little sticks but one of them did produce a handful of berries. The first few I picked were probably a little underripe, not overripe like I thought. The next group, something stole most of them (bird or dogs, but I actually suspect the birds) but I did get a couple. They were riper and much better. I have little leaf buds on the saskatoon sticks now (yay!). I'm curious to see what they'll do this year. I may also get to taste the jostaberries this year (hopefully!).

The seed in the berry is a little bit big but they're pretty no-fuss bushes. We had a fairly wet summer but I don't think I watered them more than a couple times. They're in my backyard, not my garden area, so the hose is rarely nearby.