The show begins in spring, when clusters of fragrant white blooms arise among the glossy medium to dark green leaves all over this densely-branched, 3- to 5-foot-tall, 5- to 6-foot-wide shrub. Attracting the attention of butterflies and bees, they are delightfully long-lasting, and are followed by tiny berries that gradually mature to black.
Just ¾-inch in diameter and round (they may remind you of extra-large currants!), the berries are unbelievably profuse, maturing in early autumn. They are rich in vitamin C, ferrum, and iodine, and make excellent eating fresh, stewed, dried, or juiced. Of course, if you are growing Viking for its ornamental beauty, you may wish to leave the berries on the shrub. Remarkably long-lasting, they continue to hold on the branches well into winter, providind nutritious meals for the songbirds and lending a fourth season of interest to this Aronia.
Autumn also brings foliage changes to this shrub. The leaves sport brilliant tones of orange, scarlet, and carmine, which remain for many weeks before falling into a colorful pool on the garden floor. Show-stopping color!
'Viking' is self-fertile, so you need plant only one for a full crop of berries. It needs no pruning, is quite drought-tolerant once established in your garden, and as a native shrub, has proven remarkably resistant to pests and diseases. In other words, it is utterly trouble-free and very, very low maintenance. Who could ask for anything more in the border, along the driveway, as a colorful hedge, or even as a perimeter planting?
This cultivar was developed in Europe as an orchard fruit, but its ornamental value was quickly realized (as it began winning awards!). Now it is a beloved "edible ornamental" in fine gardens everywhere. Do add it to yours this season! Zones 3-8.