Flavourful berries harvested from bushes, such as blueberries and cranberries, have been demonstrated by science to supply important micronutrients to the diet. Berries are a valuable food source for birds and wildlife as well. In the home garden, grow blueberries, cranberries or currents for fresh eating, or for cooking and baking. Create a natural bird-feeding station in your home garden by including berry-bearing bushes that will attract birds.
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Low-bush blueberries are hardy to minus -3.89 degrees C. Some cultivars grow to less than 3 feet high. Low-bush-type blueberries do not produce an abundant crop, but the berries are flavourful. Plant several as a low hedge or in groupings of three to five bushes. Highbush-type blueberries grow to as much as 6 feet tall and are hardy to minus -6.67 degrees C. These heavy bearers do best in organically enriched acidic soil. Rabbiteye-type blueberries are hardy to zero degrees F, and will grow to 8 feet tall. Blueberries require moist, acidic, organically enriched soil.
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The true North American cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, belongs to the heath family. Along with the Concord Grape and the blueberry, the cranberry is one of only three fruits native to North America. This low-growing woody perennial has vinelike shoots and runners that root along the surface of the soil to form dense mats. These are the commercially bog-grown cranberries used for cranberry sauces and relishes. Viburnum trilobum, known as Highbush Cranberry, produces edible fruits much like cranberries in appearance, flavour and nutritional value. Grow Highbush cranberry bushes as an attractive hedge or small border. Its fruit is attractive to birds.
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Currents and Gooseberries
Currants are red, white or black berries growing on attractive shrubs well suited to the home garden. Gooseberries are either American or European. Currants and gooseberries both grow on attractive, self-fruitful easy-to-grow bushes that fit well into a home garden scheme. Currants and gooseberries are delicious in jams, jellies and pies. The fruits are also used to make wine. Choose a cool, moist site with full to partial sun. Select disease-resistant varieties since current and gooseberry bushes spread white pine blister rust, a disease that endangers white pines.
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Berry Bushes Attractive to Birds
Providing berry bushes specifically for the birds brings beautiful, useful birds to the home garden. Mullberries attract colourful orioles and tanagers. Spicebush and hollies will bring in bluebirds and bobwhites. Barberries attract catbirds and mockingbirds. Cedars and junipers draw bluebirds, finches, grosbeaks and robins to the garden. Elderberries and Juneberries, as well as berries grown for the kitchen, will attract birds. Growing a variety of berry bushes ensures plenty of berries to share with wild birds.