Already, I've potted on many graduates from the seed flats to 2 inch pots and just recently, into the ground or into larger pots. I'm going to do a few posts tracking each plant's progress separately.
Today: the thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus.
I tried growing these from cuttings in 09 and failed. I just read the thimbleberry page on this very useful site - rook.org - and learned that vegetative propagation from sections of rhizomes is more successful.
But the seeds came up beautifully. I've been trying to remember if I did any cold stratification (stickin' 'em in the fridge for a while, to mimic winter). I don't think I did. The seeds had been hanging around for quite a long time in envelopes, maybe a year and a half - I think - so maybe they had gone through enough temperature changes to be ready to go. I do need to keep better records.
As I walk out in late spring and early summer, I love to see the thimbleberry bushes in flower...
and the thimbleberries ripening. They are said to be delicious but I kept all the ones I picked to put in envelopes! They are ripe when they fall off in your hand, and can ripen in a matter of hours. Wildlife relishes them and so do people.
I was thrilled when the babies started sprouting...
and quickly growing...
So I put them in small pots and they kept on growing...
Until last week - Jan 22 - when my son-in-law, Mr Squirrel from Boulder Creek, helped me pot up a bunch of the more mature seedlings and then we put them on the north-east facing deck upstairs at my home. Here they are on day one:
And then a week later...
I have others still in deep 4" pots. Today, if the rain lets up, I'm going to plant one or two in the ground, at the edge of the redwood grove, among some small oaks, toyons, Douglas fir, and madrones, where I hope they will grace the driveway to our home. In fall the leaves turn golden and then drop - it is winter deciduous. Here is one spot ready for planting:
I expect thimbleberry to grow to around four feet tall and six wide, based on the local wild population. They may grow taller as I will be fertilizing them (see below). They won't get much wider, as I'll be pruning them (also see below).
The deer will be pruning them too. Deer browse on thimbleberry but I read that the shrub survives. I'll cage mine until they get big enough to tolerate browsing.
I'm also going to plant one in a large container in the pool garden, and I'll give one to Town Mouse who also would like to try them in a large container.
I expect to give a few more to neighbors this fall, and I'm very happy to be able to spread this lovely native around in our neighborhood. The seeds came from just a mile away - but right along our road, I haven't seen any thimbleberry.
Regarding the native people's uses for thimbleberry plant parts, and the care and feeding of thimbleberry shrubs, I would refer you to this page on Paghat's Garden, a resource I treasure. There I read this useful content which I'll just reproduce as I can't say it any better myself:
Flowers & fruits are on two-year-old canes. When pruning in autumn, avoid the young green canes, & remove to the oldest canes. They are adaptable to a wide range of conditions, but the ideal is moist rich soil in dappled sunlight or partial shade. ... Though usually restrained in the garden, it may sucker to excess if ignored, spreading over an area from its rhizomes. ... [T]himbleberries are heavy nitrogen users & decline when soil nutrients decline. In the garden, then, it needs not to be crowded by too many large shrubs, & it needs at least an annual fertilizing as for other deciduous fruiting trees & shrubs.I'll take particular care to provide nitrogen in a slow release organic fertilizer, so as not to deplete the soil where I plant thimbleberry, and I'll be pruning so they don't turn into a big thicket. In the wild, there is a natural progression of plants following fire or disturbance, and thimbleberry doesn't stay forever in one place. But this IS a garden, and gardens do require artifice, even wilderness gardens like mine. As the babies (hopefully) grow, I'll keep you posted on their progress.