Last week I gave a talk on “Trees in the Landscape” at the Des Moines Botanical Center, where I presented images of majestic oaks, maples and spruces. Not surprisingly, the trees that hit the audience’s hot button were smaller species. After all, most people have limited space to grow trees, so they’re interested in space savers.
They also like multi-season interest, which is why I was happy to tell them about serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.). What’s not to like? Pretty flowers in spring, edible berries in summer, spectacular foliage in fall, and handsome habit in winter.
Serviceberry takes full sun or part shade, making it suitable for everything from a specimen to a perimeter plant on the outskirts of a shrub border. It likes moist (but not water-logged), acidic soil and grows in a wide range of climates. Some species grow in Zones 3-7, others like warmer temperatures in Zones 5-9.
By the way, as the son of a funeral director, I have to point out where the common name comes from. In the old days, many rural cemeteries had to wait till the ground thawed for burials. Graveside services often coincided with either the blooming (May) or berry production (June) of the serviceberry, hence the name. Another common name, Juneberry, relates to the timing of fruit production.