New England

May, 2003
Regional Report

Shows & Events

Arnold Arboretum Workshop Series
The Arnold Arboretum, in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts (not far from Boston) hosts a number of workshops throughout the summer. For example, on Sunday, June 1, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., there's a workshop on tree identification; on Wednesday, June 4, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., you can learn about "heavenly humus" (a look at soil life). There's something for everyone, from philosophical discussions of invasive exotic plants to the practical "Basic Care of Trees and Shrubs." Learn more by calling (617) 524-1718 x 162, or visit the Adult Education page of the Arnold Arboretum Web site: http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/programs/adulted.html

Favorite or New Plant

Alpine Strawberries
You won't harvest baskets of fruit from your alpine strawberries, but the fruit you get, though small, will be intensely flavored. Unlike their larger cousins, alpine strawberries suffer from relatively few disease problems, and their attractive foliage and compact growth habit make them a good choice for ornamental plantings.

Alpine strawberries are everbearing, and will produce occasional fruits all season long. Plant them near paths so you can check plants daily and harvest the berries as they ripen. The small fruits dry well; however, unless you have dozens of plants it’s unlikely you’ll harvest more than you can eat fresh. A better plan is to harvest a handful each morning to enjoy with breakfast.

Like other strawberries, alpines appreciate rich, moist soil and a layer of mulch to inhibit weeds and keep soil cool. They prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade. Most varieties spread by seed, rather than by runners, and with some encouragement they will form an attractive ground cover. You can start plants by seed or divide established plants every year.

Cultivars
Alpine Yellow – If you can get it out of your head that strawberries are supposed to be red, try this yellow-fruited variety. The fragrant fruit is sweet and has a pineapple undertone.

Lipstick – This variety makes an especially attractive ground cover, with lush foliage and bright pink flowers. Not a heavy producer, but fruits are tasty.

Mignonette -- This is the variety used in French pastries. Heavy producer (for an alpine) of intensely flavored fruits.

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