Backyard Bliss | More than just a popular hedging plant

BERRY GOOD: Myrtus ugni, the popular hedge plant that is less know for its fruit ... or keeping babies amused. Picture: Hannah Moloney.
BERRY GOOD: Myrtus ugni, the popular hedge plant that is less know for its fruit ... or keeping babies amused. Picture: Hannah Moloney.

Good Life Permaculture

All beauty and bursts of pink sherbet, our myrtus ugni plants offer more than just a living fence.

Originating from South America, these plants also go by the name of chilean guava and, more recently, Tazzi Berries - Tasmania's attempt of claiming them as our own.

Before growing these plants ourselves, we would make annual visits to the local retirement home where they were in abundance as a popular landscaping plant.

Most people plant them as an ornamental, not realising their little berries are full of edible delight.

These tough plants can be grown in full sun to partial shade, thrive in good soil, but are charging on in a pretty crappy area of our garden.

They were planted in full sun on the edge of a dry bank where the soil is a combo of heavy clay top soil, plus a bit of sub soil mixed in thanks to excavations.

After an initial period of regular watering, we don't do anything for them anymore - they're just getting on with it. Our kind of plant.

We chose to plant them in this particular spot so they can also function as a living hedge along a pathway, preventing people from slipping down a fairly steep bank.

The berries of the myrtus ugni plants.

The berries of the myrtus ugni plants.

The path is really narrow, as we're all about maximising growing space (just wide enough to wedge a small baby in, as you can see in the picture) ... when our daughter was a baby, we made sure she got out in the garden with us to hang out and admire the natural beauty life has to offer.

The myrtus ugni average height is somewhere around 1.7 metres when left unattended, but apparently they can get up to three metres in super prime conditions.

We keep them pruned at around one metre high and half a metre wide, keeping them nice and compact in a tight space.

The one 'downside' (which isn't a massive downside) is that the fruit is tiny, meaning the harvest is slow and that you tend to eat more than you actually put in the bowl.

But we don't mind. We might if we were trying to farm them, but on a backyard scale they're just fine.

We really enjoy using plants for multiple functions, sure they give us good food, but they're also a living fence, while also providing entertainment for small babes - clever plants.

  • Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstrom are the founders of Good Life Permaculture, a permaculture landscape design and education enterprise that creates resilient and regenerative lives and landscapes.