As you can see, I’ve had a “fruitful” day! (Sorry! I’ll stop the corny gags!)
The rasps and strawberries are sadly a distant memory, but there’s still fruit picking to be done. I was determined to harvest before I lost more berries to the birds. They’ve had my red and white currants and have moved on to my blueberries. It was time to gather the latest crops of blackberries, blackcurrants, and Japanese wineberries.
And so I move onto my love/hate relationship. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with these berries. These were the handful of berries I showed last week. They are not so widely known as the berries we normally grow in our gardens. We have the run of the mill raspberries, blackberries, tayberries and strawberries, along with varying shades of currants, but we had space for one more bush, and I fancied something a bit different.
And different it is! Different, in the fact it isn’t a hybrid berry, like the Tayberry, but a species of its own in the Rubus family. And different, in that it is highly decorative in its own right. It has long arching stems, clothed in soft red hairs, that appear so very tactile. But stroke them at your peril! They disguise the small, sharp thorns that also protrude along these stems. The leaves, as they age, pale to a lovely, lime-green, that really contrasts with the red of the stems. So now, at harvest, it is a striking looking specimen, with its terminal clusters of wine-red berries, that seem to glisten like little jewels. They taste similar to rasps – sweet and sharp, but not so aromatic. And you grow and treat them in the same way, too. Once the fruit is picked, they leave behind their stalks, (like all good berries should do!) which look like tiny orange stars. And there’s more! Once this is all over, the leaves take on beautiful autumn tones of pink and orange, before dropping. What’s not to love?
Well, it is a very vigorous shrub, shooting up strong new shoots in all directions, that’s a two man job to control. They get you from all angles! As for harvesting, they are quite prickly, which isn’t too bad while picking, but a hazardous experience while being attacked by the new stems. Mind you, my support system is rather ad.hoc. so maybe that’s down to me! These glistening berries, are also rather tacky, leaving you with sticky fingers afterwards. But nothing soap won’t put right!
So, all in all, the love out weighs the hate, now that I’ve extricated myself from its clutches! But why can’t it be more like its well-behaved neighbour, the compact, self-supporting and thornless, blackberry “Loch Ness”?