Tag Archives: Soft fruit

A Berry Good Time and a Love/hate Relationship

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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.

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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”?

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Little Boxes

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At long last! The final stage of a seven year project!

Our "Long Garden Path", runs down the middle of garden, through several "garden rooms" to the Woodland garden at the end. One of the "rooms" is our "Allotment", where we grow our fruit and veg. My aim was to attempt to make this an attractive feature in its own right. It has gone through several incarnations in its time, but hopefully, we have now settled on this plan. The roughly made raised beds and gravel paths were dispensed with as they were actually creating more problems for us. So we reverted to four larger beds – two on each side of the path.

One pair of beds were for the soft fruits – one for berries, and the other for currants. I wanted both of these to be edged with box hedges, hoping for an attractive "Potager" effect! I planned to grow the box myself from cuttings and was prepared for a long wait. It could never be an overnight result.

The first set of cuttings were started just over six years ago and they took well. After about 18 months I felt they were ready to plant up. I had plenty of plants for one bed, the berries, with some left over as spares. However, there were not enough for both, so back to the start. Sadly, these cuttings did not seem to take so well for some reason. They seemed to sit there and sulk, neither growing nor dying. Eventually though, there were glimmers of hope, and I decided I was waiting no longer. They were going in! The currant bed was now complete!

As you can see, I planted them up, but they are poor little things! They will need lots of T.L.C. After all, when you see the berry bed now, they have a lot of catching up to do!

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And now back to my topiary shears!