I need suggestions for plants 4-6 feet tall, fruit bearing, on the north side of a cypress screen.
My neighbors planted leland cypress on our property line. They moved away and a new family moved in. By that time the branches were at least 8 feet long and took up about 200 square feet of our property. My husband and the neighbor decided to trim the branches up to 6' above the ground. Anything I plant would be on the north side of the trees which still shade at least 1/2 of our back yard. I would like to plant something edible under the remaining branches to cover up the ugly trunk with the branches trimmed off. I'd like fruit like blueberries or grapes but don't know if they'd get enough sun. Suggestions? We live in Virginia.
My answer: Oh, boy, do you have a problem! Leland cypress can grow to 30 feet tall, so you're going to have to be pruning these forever. Have you considered cutting them down?
If that's not an option, the serviceberry (Amelanchier species, also called Juneberry) is probably your best bet. It grows well in full shade, has berries similar to blueberries, and will grow fine in Virginia. It also has pretty white flowers, and it can grow almost as tall as the cypress (but is much easier to prune), so if you get tired of topping those you'll have a double row of hedge there which will look fairly nice.
Two caveats: it's not evergreen, so you'll still have a whole lot of brown twigs there in the winter. And I wasn't able to find any information on what can grow near a cypress, unfortunately (that's what took me so long to answer).
Try buying one, to see if it does well. If that one survives, then get the rest for the row. And please let me know how this works for you!
Anyone else have any suggestions for Barbara?
(Edited to add: don't forget the list on my shade gardens page, if you decide you want some smaller plants too.)