An early summer adventure when I was a kid, was picking tiny, wild strawberries. They were packed with incredible flavour. We would forage for ages just to bring home a small bowl full, but it was always worth it.
More recently (2 years ago), at a ‘Gardening with Native Plants’ workshop, I learned those very same plants will happily grow in the urban landscape. How cool is that? Plants that provide an opportunity to forage in my own yard AND do double duty as a ground cover! Bring it on!
I’d never seen thick mats of strawberries like those in the photos at the gardening workshop, but Pat Johnston really knows her stuff, so I totally believed it was possible. I immediately formed a plan.
Pat explained the 2 kinds of local wild strawberries to take into consideration. The coastal strawberry is a tough, full sun, drought tolerant workhorse. The woodland strawberry also works great as a ground cover, but performs much better in more shady parts of the garden.
After running across a bed of wild strawberries growing prolifically in a curbside city garden – – and looking like they were about to take over the sidewalk, I was even more encouraged. Who knew wild strawberries would grow so well in town? I set about planting coastal strawberries in our sunny garden bed.
The landscape trend was spreading. A new native landscape area at the college down the street was planted with wild strawberries, too.
The other day (2 years later) I walked by the spot and was impressed by how well that area had filled in. Perhaps the Camosun groundskeepers fertilize a little more than I do?… or maybe they water the area more? or maybe they originally planted more starts?… I’m not sure. But it looks great, doesn’t it?.
I reckon our strawberry patch will catch up in another year or two. In the meantime I’m enjoying watching my own little community of strawberries send out their ‘runner babies’.
The birds are more vigilant than I am, so I don’t expect to ever have enough harvest to make jam or pie. I figure the occasional berry is a reward for getting out in the garden to water or weed.
© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013