|Carmine Jewel Cherry|
|Prunus ‘Carmine Jewel’|
|James Kohut, Staff Writer|
What comes to mind when you think of cherries? Many of us conjure up images of those sweet July cherries that are grown on the magical West Coast of our continent. But we also think of delicious cherry pies, of cherries jubilee and cheesecakes and jams. We even think of cherry liqueurs and wines! And how many of us realize that these delicacies do not in fact use the sweet cherry, but rather its hardier sibling, the sour cherry, also known as the tart cherry or pie cherry? Don't let its name fool you - these fruits may be a little tart on the lips to eat fresh, but their flavor is absolutely unparalleled in cooking, beverages and confections.
And it's a good thing, because the sweet cherries, varieties of Prunus avium, really aren't hardy anywhere in the North, save for the warmest parts of zone 5. But sour cherries are hardy throughout zone 5 and in the warmer parts of zone 4. And then along came the breeders, who developed 'Northstar' and 'Meteor' which are hardy throughout zone 4, followed by the magnificent discovery 'Evans' which is hardy all across zone 3. And thanks to some diligent work at the University of Saskatchewan, we now have cherries which are fully hardy in zone 2 - and that means pretty well everyone in the North can now grow delicious cherries in their yards!
Carmine Jewel is the first in a series of cherries being released by the University of Saskatchewan's hardy cherry development program. As an edible, it has all the delicious qualities of the tart cherry - the same bold taste with a deep red color. It makes incredible pies, sauces, jams and beverages. It's quite the ornamental, too - an abundance of white flowers in spring, the showy red fruit in summer, and a pleasing orange/yellow fall color, with the ubiquitous deep red stems of the cherry throughout the winter.
That's not all, either! As our landscapes have grown smaller commensurate with today's suburban property sizes, we seek smaller and more compact trees and shrubs. Carmine Jewel is a "bush cherry", growing only 6' in height and width, making it ideal to fit into the edible landscape. Like all cherries, it needs lots of sunlight and good soil with excellent drainage. It doesn't require a pollinator to produce fruit, but having another cherry (Nanking, sandcherry) nearby will increase productivity.