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Recently, my neighbour Jackie Grant invited me to drop over and spend some time in her garden where she and her husband, Ian, have done a gorgeous job of tucking in plants among all the stunning rock in their yard.
Here, again, I noticed creeping raspberry, a plant that offers wonderful coverage and seems too good to be true. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of this plant it and it had me curious. Could it be an invasive similar to that nightmare Lamium maculatum (dead nettle), which I continually tried to wrestle out of my previous garden? All reports to date, though, claim the opposite – that although creeping raspberry is quick to grow, it’s also easy to contain and is perfect for hot and dry slopes or ditches where the soil moisture fluctuates from wet to dry. In fact, it’s suggested as a safe alternative to invasive English ivy. Jackie says she found creeping raspberry (Rubus pentalobus) slow to start but once it got going it provided a very dense and weed-suppressing coverage.
Creeping raspberry doesn’t claim to be very cold hardy, but Jackie’s garden is in a windy spot and certainly chillier than the recommended zone 7. According to The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, which awarded this plant a gold medal in 2005, “creeping raspberry is a fast-growing, evergreen groundcover imported from Taiwan.
It spreads 3 to 6 feet in all directions. As the name implies, creeping raspberry creeps along the ground by forming runners – much like strawberries – which root at their nodes and establish new colonies. Although it is aggressive, creeping raspberry is not invasive. It doesn’t climb trees or smother nearby shrubs, and it can readily be controlled with mechanical edging.” Of course, being an edible-ornamental plant freak, one of my first questions to Jackie was “does it bear fruit?” So far, Jackie says there has been no sign of any. My research tells me it can fruit in favourable conditions, but not to get the jam jars out. According to The University of Georgia, “Although the fruits are tasty and edible, they are tiny, so don’t expect an abundant harvest for your breakfast table.”