Wow, What A Strawberry!

Grumpy sees so many new plants each year that they tend to fade into a blur of ennui. I mean, does the world really need another new heuchera or coneflower? But there is one plant that has me itching out of my normally baby-soft skin to try it. A fantabulous new strawberry called 'Tristan.'

Just look at that photo above. You'll start drooling so profusely on your keyboard that you'll probably short it out. A strawberry with deep rose flowers, not white? A strawberry with deep rose flowers that produces sweet, delicious strawberries? C'mon! Do you take me for a dunce?

Of, course not. If you're reading "The Grumpy Gardener," by definition your intelligence ranks in the top 1% of the world's population.

Where Did This Marvelous Berry Come From? At first glance, 'Tristan' reminds me of a plant that came out with much fanfare a couple of years ago -- an ornamental strawberry called 'Pink Panda.' By crossing a strawberry with its distant relative, a cinquefoil, breeders changed the normally white blooms to a pretty pink. But the fruits of 'Pink Panda' were mealy and unpalatable. You planted it just for looks.

Not so with 'Tristan.' Thanks to the work of Dutch breeders, its conical, inch-long berries are muy delicioso. And depending upon where you live (it does best in USDA Zones 5-8, which is the Upper South through Lower South), you can harvest from spring right through summer. 'Tristan' performed admirably last year at the University of Georgia Plant Trials.

Plant in Pots 'Tristan' strawberry is a clumping plant, growing about a foot tall and 2 feet wide and producing no runners. So grow it in containers, not in the ground. You'll be able to provide it with perfect, well-drained potting soil and a sunny spot. You can easily move it to where you want it and protect the berries from birds and other pests. Plus, the berries hang over the sides of the container, making for easy picking.

Where to Buy 'Tristan' strawberry should be widely available in garden centers this spring. Mail-order sources include Nature Hills Nursery and Burpee. Seeds of a very similar strawberry, called 'Toscana,' are available from Park Seed.

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