Tag Archives: Plant Profile

Japanese Plums – Prunus salicina – in Edmonton

The best time to plant a plum tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

-“Chinese proverb” (probably not though…)

A ripe Japanese plum variety called Ivanovka, growing in Edmonton.
Photo by Lisa Zieminek

We have two Japanese plum trees in our yard. The cultivar names are confusingly but unmistakably Slavic: Ivanovka and Ptitsin #3.[1] The trees were purchased as cuttings from the University of Saskatchewan, but the varieties were first developed at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba and first released in 1939.[2] We chose these specific varieties for their cold-heartiness, fruit quality, and pollination requirements.

For most of our other fruit trees we didn’t have to give much thought to pollination. Our sour cherries, for instance, are all self-pollinating. And while apples must … Continue reading.

Evans Cherry

A cluster of Evans cherries, ready for the picking.I’ve known for years that Evans cherries thrive in Edmonton, but I only recently learned that they are actually “from” here.

In 1976 a cherry orchard near Fort Saskatchewan owned by one Mrs. Borward was about to be torn out to make room for a new federal penitentiary, the Edmonton Institution.  Borward invited local horticulturalist Ieuan Evans to take suckers from her plants.[1]

I haven’t been able to find any info on where exactly the Borward cherries came from, but they were a variety of the species Prunus cerasus, commonly known as sour cherry and native to areas around the Black and Caspian seas.  Morello is another example of a variety of that species.  The Borward trees were … Continue reading.

Nanking Cherry

I’m starting to research the plants in our yard more thoroughly.  This is the first of several “Plant Profiles” I hope to write.

Prunus tomentosa

“Prunus” means plum (think: prune), and “tomentosa” means densely hairy, referring, I think, to the leaves.  This shrub is native to the far east, notably the Himalayas, China, and Japan.  “Nanking” is the old roman-alphabet word for the Chinese city now transliterated as Nanjing.

As a fruit tree the Nanking is very much inferior to other sour varieties like Evans and Carmine Jewel.  While the fruit is merely adequate, the plant has some striking ornamental qualities.  The mature wood is a lustrous red roan.  When young the shrubs are a bit twiggy and awkward, but … Continue reading.


This is one of those “probably more than you wanted to know about…” posts, but when one plant has a hundred names, I’m always curious for an explanation.

Near-ripe Blue Belle haskapsA cold-hardy bush that produces delicious, anti-oxidant-rich berries of striking colour and interesting shapes as early as June, the haskap has captured the attention of a diverse group of obsessives: gardeners, nutritionists, chefs, and linguists, to name a few.

Haskaps are native to several far flung regions in the northern hemisphere, and most often found in or near bogs in boreal forests. They go by a dizzying number of names, some of which are described below.  For clarity’s sake, the plant we are discussing is Lonicera caerulea.  There are four notable … Continue reading.