I picked my first ever Japanese wineberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) this week. Sweet, very juicy and with a slightly sharp and peppery aftertaste. I think I’m growing to love them. They look like small raspberries, but glossier in appearance with a very different growing habit. They also perfectly fill the fruit gap in between my summer and autumn fruiting raspberries.
The berries grow in clusters along long elegant pinkish, furry-looking, slightly spiky stems. Green berries are revealed next to other ripening berries as if venturing out of an alien’s pod. A marvel to behold! Similarly to most blackberries and summer fruiting raspberries, Japanese wineberries fruit on the previous year’s growth. Which means I planted the canes in autumn 2009, the stems grew last year (2010) and this is their first fruiting season (2011).
Achingly simple to propagate, these arching stems will start forming roots as soon as they hit the soil. I know this, as earlier in the year, before fruits had starting forming, I already had 2 new plants growing at the outer reaches of my plant with no knowledge or indeed any effort on my behalf. I snipped the stems about a foot (30cms) from the soil and carefully dug up these new plants and gave them to fellow allotmenteers. These are not neat, tidy plants on my allotment, spreading to 6 ft (2m) wide by 5 ft (1.75m) deep (so far!), but they can be easily trained on wires or against a wall for an equally decorative, yet slightly more ordered look . Either way, they are gorgeous attention grabbers with their arching pink stems and clusters of ripening berries. After all the fruit has been picked, cut the stems on which the fruit formed down to the ground in late August/September, leaving this years new growth for the plant to fruit on next year. These very attractive fruit canes will grow in sun or part shade, so a real winner for any part of the garden, potager or allotment. Best planted bare- rooted in autumn, I bought mine from Ken Muir Fruit Nursery and see they’re also available at Victoriana Nursery