by TAMI SCHLIES
In early October I visited One Green World aka Northwoods Nursery in Mollalla, Oregon. Jim Gilbert had just returned from Washington D.C. the previous day, and was too exhausted to take us around personally, so Rae took us around the grounds, urging us to sample the many types of ripe fruit in both the organic U-Pick lot and in the grounds around the house. The Gilberts specialize in many types of fruits from Russia, not just your common apple, pear, or stone fruits. Their goal is to find all kinds of fruit that will ripen in the Pacific Northwest. They support the Vavilov Institute at Vladivostak, a group dedicated to preserving plants native to the Russian Far East, and many of the varieties Northwoods offer is a direct result of research at the Institute. The retail catalog even includes the names of the fruits in Russian as well as Latin!
Below I have listed a few of the fruits I got to try, and my opinion of them at the time.
Jujube (Zizyphus jujube) was described to me as tasting like a nut, but I found it to be mealy and rather flavorless. They were not quite ripe yet, so perhaps they improve with age. (Zone 5)
Chinese Dogwood, (Cornus kousa) although edible, I found to be more appealing as an ornamental, with interesting dangling fruit shaped rather like huge raspberries from a distance. It was sweet but rather pithy in texture. (Zone 5)
Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) is actually a type of dogwood with oblong fruit and a pit. The shrub had a few fruit left hanging on it, and the flavor was very much like a pie cherry. The darker the sweeter! (Zone 4)
Aronia Berry (Aronia melanocarpa) shrubs were LOADED with clumps of black berries, flavored much like Bob Boyer’s service berries, in my opinion. (Zone 3)
Seaberry trees (Hippophae rhamnoides) were coated with orange fruit, mostly along the older stems and hidden in among long thorns. Very sour, but with a great flavor for sweetned juice. The darker orange the berry, the better the flavor. (Zone 3)
Fruiting Quince (Cydonia oblonga) were just beginning to ripen, and Rae gave me both a full sized fruit, not quite ripe, and a smaller fruit from the flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica) that smelled heavenly (I believe the flowering quince ripens earlier). I made “lemonade” at her suggestion, and was not too thrilled with the results from the full sized fruit, but the beverage from the flowering quince was great! (Zone 4)
Brooks Plum (Prunus spp.) was wonderfully sweet, with no bitterness in the peel. Very large for a prune plum. (Zone 5)
Shipova (Sorbus spp.) is a cross between the mountain ash and the asian pear. It was a bit past its season when I visited, but Rae had a few in the cooler that were in good enough shape to try. The fruit was about 2 inches in diameter, seedless, with a texture not unlike a pear. The flavor was very sweet and aromatic. (Zone 3)
Ivan’s Beauty (Sorbus spp.) is a hybrid of mountain ash and aronia berry. The fruit was VERY dark, an amazing deep redish purple, and though astringent, quite edible. The leaves were very dark green and beautiful. (Zone 3)
Ivan’s Belle (Sorbus spp.) is a cross between a hawthorne and a mountain ash. This tree had by far the larges mountain ash berries I have ever seen, as large as some of the cherries we grow, wine red in color. They were also sour, but edible, and would be excellent in recipes. (Zone 3)
Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) is not an olive at all, and though the trees were awsomely beautiful, loaded with berries, the fruit was too astringent to bear fresh. (Zone 3)
Akebia vines (Akebia quinata & trifoliata) were popping open their fruit along trellises, and I was told to try the pulp from around the black seeds. It was sweet and pudding like, but I made the mistake of biting into a seed and could not remove the bitterness from my tongue for the rest of the trip! (Zone 4)
Luckliy, with the akebia, our tour was about over, and we focused a bit more on production, though Rae was not very involved with that aspect at the nursery. Northwoods grows 90% of it’s own stock on 20 acres of land. The trees are only grown in the ground about 6 months before being dug and carted to the “grading” greenhouse, where they are bundled for shipment all over the U.S. A sawdust pile nearby held a few bundles of trees left over from the previous year.
Rows of deep sawdust held rooted cuttings that would be moved to soil next year, and the many greenhouses held cuttings that would be moved to the sawdust outdoors once satisfactorily rooted. Other greenhouses held tender plants, from passionflowers to jasmine. Outside lots were filled with potted plants ready for sale, as well as milk crates holding multiple bushes to be separated and sold bare root.
It was very interesting to explore a nursery carrying such unusual fruiting plants, and the opportunity to taste so many of them made it even better. I would personally like to try growing many of the fruits I tasted on this tour, since so many should be hardy in our climate. You can view the retail catalog at www.onegreenworld.com, but their prices are easily 3 times as much as ordering wholesale in bundles of 10, and they do not offer every one of the varieties from the retail catalog in the wholesale line. You can also request a catalog by calling (503) 651-3737 or mailing a request to Northwoods Nursery Inc. at 28696 S. Cramer Road, Molalla, OR 97038. I will also try to bring my catalog to the November meeting, so ask to see it.
If anyone else would be interested in ordering from Northwoods nursery, please let me know as soon as possible, and perhaps we can get together a wholesale order through our club.