Friday, May 21, 2010

Ornamental Shrubs?


Back last September, Kitchen Garden in France hosted an  international get-together for gardeners over a weekend.    On the Sunday morning we visited some local gardens and one of the things I saw and really liked was a neighbour's "Physalis".   A few days later, the same neighbour turned up at my door with a handful of the seed pods, exquisite things with tiny little orange fruit mounted in a papery husk.

I sowed the seeds and up came the shrub, well, about ten of them actually. 


They are growing quite strongly and will be planted out in the garden just as soon as the soil temperature rises a little bit more.

I was originally going to plant them in the general garden as an ornamental shrub, but just recently, I discovered that the fruit is not only edible but, I believe, quite delicious.  I'm therefore rethinking my plan and wondering whether to grow them as fruit somewhere in the Kitchen Garden.   I might plant then as an extension to the orchard, or maybe in between the hazelnut bushes.


Out in the general garden, I've been waiting for the rhododendron to flower.  I have to grow this bush in a pot as my soil, being a mix of clay and limestone, is far to alkaline for these acid loving plants.  However, in a large pot, filled with an ericaceous compost they thrive in the sun here.

This week, my patience was rewarded as all the buds that have been sitting on the bush for  weeks, slowly started to open up.

It makes a spectacular centrepiece to my terrace.  What a pity that the flowers are so short lived as no sooner are they all open than they have started to fall.


lotusleaf said...

Very interesting fruit. Does it grow in the tropical region?

Ian said...

Hi Lotusleaf,
I believe Physalis is sub tropical and understand it grows wild in parts of Asia.

Patrick said...

Is this Physalis peruviana (sweet/tart) or the other one I forget what it is that's just sweet?

Anyway, the sweet/tart one is called Cape Gooseberry, and is native to South Africa. It is moderately frost tolerant, but won't even come close to surviving a winter here except maybe in a greenhouse with a little heating. I'm growing several of these myself this year.

They do need a long growing season, so if there's an early hard frost, you may not get much in a European climate.

The other common Physalis is called a ground cherry, and it's not frost hardy at all.