This afternoon I took our two boys to the pool and my youngest, who is 3 and loves talking to just about anyone, notice that the lady next to us was eating cherries. He went up to her and said, “We have a cherry tree and we ate a lot of cherries. But they are all gone, so now we eat a lot of little plums.” We are indeed eating a lot of plums these days. This is the first significant harvest from our Santa Rosa Weeping plum tree. We’ve had it in the ground maybe four years now? It’s a beautiful tree.
And the blackberries are ripening too! In previous years both the plums and the blackberries were ripe around the 4th of July, but I suppose because of our cold, rainy spring things have been delayed a few weeks. Growing up, even only an hour away from here, we didn’t have any blackberry bushes near our house. However they grew wildly abundant a few hours north on the lake where we used to vacation with my cousins every summer. Somewhere amongst our busy activities of rainbow trout fishing, swimming, row boating, popcicle eating and flip flop wearing lakeside walks, we squeezed in a little blackberry picking. We’d walk out to this one berry lined lane with bags and pick as many as we could, without getting too scratched up.
Even now, despite the fact that as a grown up I have blackberries growing in my backyard and I have children of my own, sneaking in and out of those thorn filled canes, discovering spiderwebs, and figuring out how to reach that one far berry without getting too bloodied up, brings me straight back to my childhood.
I wish I could tell you some good solid gardening advice on how to grow blackberries, but I think most of you with blackberry growing experience will agree, we do our best to give these bushes a firm case of tough love. They don’t need anything from us. Once they take hold, they are relentless in their pursuit to take over your entire yard. Many times a year we put on our thickest gloves, muster up our strength and head out to prune those painful canes back to keep them in their place. It’s worth the territorial fight though, not only for their sweet flavor but for the memories they bring back.
If you have small kids or in need of a present for a little one, Jamberryhas long been a favorite of our boys. So much so that it has become memorized and often referred to as we go about our days. This line is shouted from the backseats almost every time we pass a bridge, ‘Under the bridge/And over the dam/Looking for berries/Berries for jam.’