To justify their spot, plants with big ambitions must contribute something more than just a few weeks’ worth of pretty flowers.

So, why not combine good looks with character and creative culinary uses by growing unusual fruit? There are lots to choose from.

Japanese wineberry looks brilliant grown over a fence or wall, or on trellis. It’s a fairly compact blackberry-like plant with 6ft stems clad in masses of small, furry, fox-red bristles that really glow in the sunlight. The berries are the shape and size of raspberries.

They start life golden yellow, each encased in a pretty, bristly, calyx, and ripen to red during August.

You can eat them raw, put them in pies or freeze to accompany ice-cream.One plant is enough as wineberry is self-fertile but grow in a sheltered, sunny spot.

Kiwi fruit is a large twining climber with architectural leaves, great for covering a trellis, pergola or outbuilding.

Most kiwi fruit produce male and female flowers on separate plants so you need one of each for pollination, and only one will bear fruit.

So choose a self-fertile variety if you are pushed for space. Don’t worry about trying to prune it well, you’ll still get a good crop if you let it ramble like a normal ornamental climber, although the fruit will be a bit smaller.

If you want a compact tree that has pretty blossom in spring and large crops of decorative cherry-like fruit, try mirabelles.

Japanese wineberry fruit

These scarce gourmet fruit are really tiny plums, old French varieties, which you rarely see in the shops.Seed firm Marshalls lists them in its fruit section and they are superb for eating, cooking and preserves.

Mirabelles are perfect in a mixed hedge in country gardens, instead of the usual damson or greengage, or you could plant one at the back of a border instead of a tree that is purely ornamental.

mirabelles

There are several unusual bush fruits that are pretty enough to grow as shrubs.Standard-trained gooseberries look rather fine in a sea of short perennials and, unlike traditional bushes, are space-saving and easy to weed underneath.

Or you can grow double or triple-stemmed cordons flat against a wall where they look stunning as well as being productive and easy to pick.

Red varieties such as Whinham’s Industry or Pax are doubly useful as they are dessert goosegogs that you can either cook or eat raw.

gooseberries

There’s also a delicious newcomer in gold and lime-green, Hinnomaki Yellow. And do try a jostaberry.This little-known and very underrated Ribes hybrid has huge blackcurrant-like berries, large gooseberry-shaped leaves and neat, non-thorny stems.

Okay, you won’t find them in every garden centre but a specialist nursery can usually oblige, even if it means ordering plants in by post.

It’s worth the effort since unusual fruit gives you the best of both worlds.

source: express