Grow your own cranberries for Christmas

A Cranbery Star. Photo: PA Photo/Ocean Spray
A Cranbery Star. Photo: PA Photo/Ocean Spray
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Cranberries are synonymous with Christmas, so better what time to learn how to grow them? Here, Hannah Stephenson shares a few tips.

Cranberries are the staple fruit of Christmas, creating the sauce synonymous with turkey or adding warmth to winter punches, relishes and jellies.

These beautiful deep red berries aren’t only popular with us though, they are also adored by wetland birds, so this year, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) wetland centres all across the country are holding their first ever Craneberry Fest – a celebration of the famous wetland fruit and an iconic wetland bird, the crane, after which cranberries are named.

From November 30 until January 26, WWT wetland centres, supported by Ocean Spray, will be showing visitors how to make beautiful cranberry decorations for the tree and cranberry bird feeders.

The plant was first named by early European settlers in America who felt the expanding flower, stem and petals resembled the neck, head, and bill of a crane. Most cranberries are still grown in boggy areas of North America and eastern Europe. They’re not widely grown in this country, although specialist fruit nurseries may offer a few types and the RHS also sells them.

“Cranberries like boggy soil conditions and it’s quite difficult to create an environment in which they thrive in the UK,’ says Leigh Hunt, principal horticultural adviser with the RHS. “But we can control the moisture and soil type by planting them in containers.”

For more details of the Craneberry Fest, go to www.wwt.org.uk