Another much underestimated group of plants. I'd been aware that there are some good ones but didn't know quite how many, or how varied they were until, last summer I visited Barry Clarke - the national collection holder. I went to look at his Asclepias collection and came away raving about Rubus. He was incredibly generous not only with his time but also with plants and cutting material so this year I already have plants to sell. Thanks Barry.
One of those I mention below does sucker but modestly, and a couple of others creep about, rooting at the tips if they get the chance, but are easily cropped back. Most benefit from being given space so as not to have to trim them back too hard all the time. All do best in shade - even quite deep shade and can be grown under evergreens as long as it's not too dry under there.
Mainly these are grown for their foliage but the flowers, though subtle, are worth looking out for too, and if they produce fruit they won't be poisonous and some might be worth harvesting.
A very choice species with foliage good enough for almost all of us to forgive its tendency to sucker. Not being completely hardy in any case dampens its vigour. In my experience it tends to pop up here and there among other plants but not to the extent that it becomes a pest. Probably not one for the very tidy-minded gardener however.
Rubus Rushbrook Red Leaf
Grown mainly for the richly coloured and textured new leaves.
The red and white buds are especially striking.
This is an 'informal' rambling species best grown either as a sort of mound, allowed to scramble about among other shrubs, or trained in as a climber. Potentially quite big but by no means uncontrollable. Thanks to Barry for this one.
1L pots ~ £7
Very much a ground-covering species, reminiscent of some of the more rampant types sometimes offered but much choicer in every way - especially the soft felted new growth.
Excellent in moist shade. Rather pretty nodding white flowers too. Another of Barry's gifts.
1L pots ~ £7
Rubus pectinellus trilobus
Another ground-cover - this time with small, rounded, attractively black-marked leaves - especially in deep moist shade. This one is entirely prostrate and can cover quite a large area but does not run underground like some, so can easily be cut back if it moves into areas you'd rather it didn't.
Again not entirely hardy so give shelter.
1L pots ~ £5
Surely the most un-bramble-like bramble you've ever seen, and one of my absolute favourite shrubs of any kind. A small evergreen shrub that neither scrambles nor suckers. To me it looks a lot like Ribes laurifolium, but the nodding white flowers are typical Rubus.
For woodland shade with shelter and moisture. Many thanks to Barry Clarke for letting me have cuttings of this one.
1L pots ~ £7