There are many members of the Barberry family, some well-known for their ornamental qualities, quite a few producing a useful edible berry. All are easy to grow, tolerating any well-drained soil, even chalk and making a good informal if rather spiny hedge. The only pruning necessary is that to keep it tidy, perhaps taking out weak and old stems to encourage new ones. Bees love the early, profuse yellow flowers. Our native Barberry, B. vulgaris, has been accused of harbouring a black rust disease of wheat, which means it has been grubbed out of much of the country side over the years, a great shame as it was once widely cultivated for its fruit centuries ago. If you live in a wheat producing area, you might be best advised to stick to other varieties.
We have four types of Barberries currently available; the common native B. vulgaris, deciduous and fruiting in the early autumn and good in a hedge;
Darwins Barberry, B. darwinii from Chile, an evergreen good in hedges which has a wonderful display of flowers in the early spring much used by bees, fruiting in mid-summer;
Salmon Barberry, B. aggregata from China, medium deciduous shrub whose translucent orangey fruits are ready in the late autumn,
And the Magellan Barberry, B. buxifolia also from South America but not for the faint hearted, as it's large and spiny up to 1.5m upwards with arching stems though the single yellow flowers are pretty and the berries in mid-summer are sweet/acid and much used in their native range.
All three produce an abundance of acid berries that can be used in the same way as lemons, and were traditionally used to make a delicious jelly, in the past whole bunches of the berries were preserved in syrup. They are too acid to eat raw but are cooked in pies and tarts and used to make refreshing drinks.
(More pictures on our facebook page)
Please see our Contact page for ordering details.