| Here’s a shot of a mix of different cultivars of yellow Alpine strawberries provided by Michael Wellik! |
Those of you who read this column weekly will know that last week I made reference to the question on the Fo-rum from Craig in zone 5a, about white strawberries, and their availability. I said that if someone else had not responded by this time, I would throw in my two-cents-worth!
First, here is Craig’s request: “Looking for seeds or cuttings from a white strawberry. Saw it in a historical gar-den in Nova Scotia... seeds did not survive the return trip. Tiny almost the size of a wild strawberry, yet are ripe when white. Any help would be greatly appreciated.”
Lo and behold, this week, there was one additional post, but not really of any help to Craig. It came from Maria in the same hardiness zone: “Very few posts on this website lately...hmmm... your quest for a white strawberry that's probably 'heritage' is interesting....have you checked with 'Seeds of Diversity'....good luck.”
Well, Craig, I first turned to the Web, and immediately found Michael Wellik’s site, www.alpinestrawberries.us and it is just about as complete as you could want. He is located in the State of Delaware, and he ships straw-berry plants, particularly Alpine strawberries to all states, but not to Canada.
Here is what he says about Alpine strawberries.
“Alpine strawberries were discovered over 300 years ago in the Swiss Alps. Because they do not produce run-ners their cultivation spread quickly through Europe and eventually to the U.S. Propagation can be accomplished through plant division or by saving seeds. Varieties/cultivars are isolated from each other to produce plants very close genetically to the parent, though genetic variation does occur.”
He also sells various strawberry seeds, although warns newcomers away from offers they may find on the Web for “Hybrid strawberry seed,” which, not unlike most other hybrid plants, will not reproduce the same as the plant from which the seed came.
He sells, for example Alpine strawberry ‘White Soul’ (Fragaria vesca ‘White Soul’), a relatively new white Alpine cultivar. Here is what he has to say about it.
“White Soul is a white fruiting variety that has been around for only a few years. The fruit is among the largest white fruit produced by alpines. Our testing of this variety is still ongoing but it tends to be a very strong grower and top producer. This variety will ‘fool the birds’. They don't go after the fruit as much as they do for red fruit.
He also sells red Alpine strawberries such as ‘Mignonette’, about which he says: “Mignonette is the tastiest red alpine variety in our opinion. It is not as productive as some other reds like 'Alexandria' but the one-inch-long conical shaped fruit has an aroma and taste unlike anything you've ever experienced. 50+ seeds/packet.”
Further, he features yellow Alpine strawberries, such as those in the photo accompanying this item. For example, about ‘Yellow Wonder’ here is what he says: “Yellow Wonder is a very productive variety. In a test two years ago it produced statistically the same as 'Alexandria'. The fruit is a pale yellow at full ripe and soft. We think it is sweeter than the red varieties. There is a strong wild aroma as well. 50+ seeds per packet.”
“Fifty seeds is usually enough seeds or a home gardener. This amount will produce around 30 or more plants when care is taken to germinate and grow them. This of course depends on many factors including how many seeds are sown per cell/pot. We consider this number of seeds and plants sufficient for a home gardener to learn about the variety. If less than a full packet of seeds is sown the remaining seeds can be frozen and stored for another year.”
He also sells a ‘collection’ of two red-fruiting, one white-fruiting and one-yellow fruiting variety—the ones I have mentioned in this item.
On the Website, Michael says that he has shipped strawberry seeds to various countries with little or no difficulty. He does not make specific mention of Canada. And, no doubt, the same will apply to strawberry seeds as applies to other types of seeds from the larger seedhouses—you take your chances. If you should have a problem I have always asked seed suppliers to ship the seeds in a plain brown envelope, with only an individual’s name showing as the shipper’s address. That usually works!
If you should be ordering seeds (which by the way are generally around $2 per package; $7.49 for the collec-tion) you might also want to order some of his other items such as Bilberries and Cape Gooseberries.
Incidentally, his site offers numerous suggestions for growing Alpine strawberries, particularly including in various type of containers.
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It had been my intent this week to write about the ‘new’ Canada Blooms flower and garden show, which has an extended run to ten days, and is being co-presented with the venerable National Home Show in Toronto. However, so far of an expected number of responses about the show I was anticipating, only two materialized thus far, and therefore I have decided to await further comments from my ‘reporters’ and write something of greater length and substance next week. ‘Reporter’ Rosemary Dobson said that she liked the layout this year (it had to change drastically, of course, with the new venue at Exhibition Place) and though gardens were smaller, she found an increased number of smaller gardens. She said by far, the most interesting exhibit to her was the Parks Canada Playscape sponsored by Bienenstock and Parks Canada.
More next week!