Today, as I compiled a list of the garden and greenhouse chores to be done—pronto--I realized that it's already time to sow some seeds for next spring. It sounds crazy, I know. But somehow, it's already October. When did that happen? My favorite garden delight needs extra time to germinate and grow into lush plants so that we can enjoy its fruits next year.
My favorite garden delight?
Fraise des bois.
Honestly, isn't it a delight to say the name? Fraise des bois. Just saying the words makes me feel worldly and culinarily chic, even if I'm schlepping around in my Bradley University sweatshirt.
Allow me my fantasy.
If you've visited here before, you've heard me extoll the virtues of fraise des bois. Peter laughs at my insistence at using the French phrase because, after all, they're just “strawberries of the woods.” In Switzerland, they're commonplace.
In our area, strawberries of the forest—at least, in our yard—are inedible. Trust me. We've tried them more than once, each time hoping for a bit of sweetness.
We always wind up with a mouthful of bitter, hard berries.
Unlike our nasty wild strawberries, fraise des bois are tiny delicacies. Imagine the sweetest strawberry, just picked from the field. Now, multiply that deliciousness by 10, and you'll understand my love affair with fraise des bois.
Not only are the fruits unpretentious bursts of tasty bliss, but the plants are workhorses in our shady garden.
Fraise des bois graces containers, borders perennial beds, lines the new shade garden I'm creating. With evergreen leaves, it provides a lush ground cover filled with tiny gems in red and yellow.
Fraise des bois are well mannered. While traditional garden strawberries are quick to bully their way through beds, spilling over borders and crowding companion plants, fraise des bois are refined. They politely remain where planted, spreading by seed rather than runners, forming thicker clumps each year without invading the garden.
I like polite plants.
Even more, I like plants that flower continuously and produce delicious fruit from spring until the first hard freeze. And I love plants that tolerate shade and remain evergreen, at least in our zone 7b garden.
Noted as hardy in zones 4-7, fraise des bois is considered challenging to germinate. Although it does require a bit of time to germinate, typically sprouts appear in approximately two weeks. By starting the plants in the fall, I'm assured they will produce at least a small crop of fruit the first year in the garden.
A tradition...kids paint pots the first week of summer vacation.
Kristen's fraise des bois is still going strong on October 10.
That is, use immediately if any berries remain after your short walk from garden to kitchen. The smell will tease you, tempting you to eat every last berry yourself.
Sharing is highly overrated, right?
Fraise des bois is a garden delight on its own—there's no recipe that can compete with the simple pleasure of fraise des bois, perhaps with a tad of crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream.
After all, simple is chic.