Any plant can be used in a flower arrangement or bouquet, and I like to get creative with what we have on hand on the farm. I like to add in elements from our fruit trees, shrubs, and plants that can bring extra texture and color to bouquets that make them shine.
When we purchased the farm property, we inherited a small orchard of pear and apple trees. In the years since, we have added cherry and peach trees.
Of course, these fruit trees create beautiful flowers in the late winter. I love having access to those flowers when color is just beginning to sprout after the bare season of winter.
In addition to the fruit trees, we have transplanted and added bushes and shrubs like blueberry, raspberry, and elderberry. The blueberries were transplanted from a location where they were not getting enough sun. They are happy in their current environment and full of berries every year. Blueberries add texture and dimension to any bouquet with a beautiful dusty blue color.
We purchased enough raspberry bushes for a hedgerow. We, of course, love them for their fruit. However, I also appreciate the raspberry bushes' bright green foliage.
Finally, we have strawberries that are spreading and threatening to take over flower beds. These were gifted to us by a friend helping a friend clean up her own garden beds. They have become well-established and gifted us with many jewel-like fruits this spring. While I have not yet used the fruit or foliage in an arrangement or bouquet, I am looking forward to adding it into something soon.
Care & Maintenance
Make sure to plant fruit bearing trees or shrubs in areas where they get lots of sun. They will thrive in a sunny spot. That being said, our strawberries are in the sun in the winter and early spring until the elderberry leafs out, at which point they are shaded. They have had no problems.
Choose the right plants for your growing zone. Some fruits may need colder temperatures to thrive. Do your research and find out what works where you live.
There is very little we do for maintenance with our fruiting plants. The raspberries get trimmed to the ground every other year and mulched once a year. We trim back the blueberries to keep them from outgrowing their area and mulch them. The strawberries are spreading on their own. I pull up the runners when they have spread too far. We trim the elderberries back in the fall. They have put out lots of shoots that I pull up, but they also provide protection and food for birds. I am always thinking about ways to attract birds to cut back on the Japanese beetle population in the spring.
When you prune back your blueberry bushes, the best time to do this is February or March. Remove any dead or weak branches, and prune branches in the middle of the bush to allow air circulation. Prune back any branches that cross the bush and that may rub against other branches. Cut back one third of the oldest canes to the ground to stimulate new growth. Blueberries fruit on the growth from the previous year, so make sure not to cut back the newest growth.
When harvesting foliage with fruit or branches, harvest into a clean bucket with clean water using clean snips. Harvest early in the morning or in the early evening. Harvest fruit when it is unripe to get the longest vase life. Snip a raspberry cane down to the ground, a blueberry branch back to the intersection with another branch, or a strawberry plant back to the connecting plant.
Other things to consider
Blueberries require at least two different varieties planted near each other to get fruit and will need a similar variety to cross pollinate.
There are many different varieties of raspberries, including thornless raspberries, which work well for foliage.
This post is part of a year-long series on flowers and plants that we love and grow on the farm. Check out other flowers that we love.