As I write this column, we are marking 14 years since moving to Vernon. At that time, I had told friends that there is life after gardening, as we came here to retire. It didn’t take long to miss the taste of fresh picked vegetables and fruits.
It took about two years to get rid of junipers in the yard and starting to build vegetable and flower beds. Roses, tree peony and one little rhubarb plant were here.
Over the years, from friends, garden club members, plant sales and nurseries the yard is now home to the following: June bearing strawberries and Pink Panda, a small fruit variety that taste like the wild strawberries I picked in my younger days. Varieties of red raspberry plants, about 50 feet (15 m) of them enough to eat and sell, tayberry with lots of thorns but delicious, honey berry (askap), goji berry relative of tomato and eggplant, Saskatoons planted over the years by the birds.
Then I have the black and red currants, blueberries (five varieties), a red and a green gooseberry. We purchased a green seedless grape (Himrod) which reached our second floor railing and shades our lower deck. Got some other cuttings and plants over the years and have now five grape vines. Got one from a nursery which was supposed to be red seedless but turned out to be a very small seeded dark purple sweet grapes (good mistake). I freeze them and we have them on our porridge for breakfast.
It took a few years to get established but the thornless blackberry vines will produce nicely this summer. Easily increased plants by rooting the tips of long branches. I kept the Oregon grape plants that were here (Mahonia) as I like the tart taste of the berries when very ripe. Mixed with apples or other fruits, they make a very good pie topped with vanilla frozen yogurt.
The elderberry bush (more like tree) was planted by a bird just by the fence. I guess it must have been sitting in the neighbour’s tree that is overhanging in our yard . Thank you birdie. This fruit when ripe makes a very good crisp mixed with sliced apples and cranberries (somehow I don’t grow these yet).
One red delicious apple tree and a cherry tree were on the property. Over the years, a plum tree sucker came from the neighbour’s and is now big with lots of fruits. The seven fig trees survived the cold from last winter and except for the smaller young one, they all have some figs on them. They were protected with bags of leaves and the tall ones were wrapped in plastic bubble wrap and covered with leaves held with chicken wire.
I also have some kiwi vines but some of them take a long time to produce fruits. Because they have pink and white leaves, I don’t mind not having the fruit as they are a nice addition to the garden just for the look.
The last two I have to mention are potted plants outside in the summer but inside for winter. They were given to me and ever since we have enjoyed fresh limes and lots of sour but tasty kumquats.
This of course is not taking count of the zucchini and tomato and other vegetables growing all over. I am glad we came here to retire. I don’t know what it would be like if we came to work.
Jocelyne Sewell is an avid gardener in Vernon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org