The berry world goes way beyond the popular blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. For those who like to make their own jams and jellies and even wine, Mother Nature has created some interesting and unusual species. Elderberries, Mulberries and Buffaloberries are cold hardy bushes that bring a different look and taste to a gardening experience.
Elderberries are one of the hardiest berry plants, being hardy to zone 3. Since the flowers do not appear until the later part of June, they are not damaged by a late frost. They also contain high levels of phosphorus, potassium and vitamin C. Elderberry bushes like a moist, fertile and well-drained soil. They do not like wet feet. Plant in the spring as soon as they arrive or the roots will dry out. Plant elderberry bushes from 6 to 10 feet apart. They have shallow roots, so they will need to be watered regularly during the first season so the roots will take hold. The fruit is ready to harvest from late August through early September. Remove the entire cluster all at once. Elderberries are not edible raw. They have to be made into jams, jellies or wine.
Mulberries grow on a beautiful, ornamental tree. The tree produces a large crop of fruits that look like blackberries. Unlike most other berry plants, they ripen over a long period. It is a good idea to spread a cloth over the ground and shake the tree when they start to ripen to get as many off as possible because they can be messy when they fall. Pick up the cloth and you have berries you can use for jams, jellies, or wine. Mulberries are hardy in zones 4 though 8 and like full sun. They tree is very adaptable to soil types and can take dry and wet soils if necessary.
Silver buffaloberry grows as a thorny shrub or small tree and reaches from 6 to 10 feet in height. The fruit grow in small clusters, ripen in July and can be as small as a current or as large as a small gooseberry. The berries have a long life span, staying on the bushes into the winter. Bullaloberries can be made into dried fruits, jelly, sauce or conserves and can be eaten right off the bush. Plant in full sun and a northern exposure. This will delay the appearance of the flowers until after last frost so they will not sustain any damage. Buffaloberries are hardy in zones 3 to 7 and like a moist, well-drained soil.