Blackberries galore – in our garden!

Blackerries and berries in hedgeIn past late summers a simple pleasure would be those walks in search of blackberries growing in hedges, woodland and grassland.

“Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,

Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,

A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea

Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries” (Blackberrying by Sylvia Plath)

Then I remember the first time I took my children foraging for blackberries. Unfortunately it was a chilly and rainy August in France. Too cold for swimming but the blackberries had ripened.  My two would eat everything they had picked by the time we returned to our holiday home. Their smiles and stained hands reminding me of my own as a child.

Now we don’t need to leave our garden. The first few appeared for us in late July but it’s only been since mid-August that we’ve been able to seriously start picking. Blackberries ripen depending on the weather earlier in the year.

In one corner of our garden brambles thick with fruit grow alongside thistles in the wild field next to it. Stinging nettles guard the fruit ripening on the thorny branches making this a rather tricky spot for gathering the fruit. (Luckily I found some dock leaves close to here after one attempt!)

Blackberries and thistlesRipening blackberriesBut the bonanza crop can be found in a hedge lining the lawn in another part of our garden. The next few weeks we’ll have to pick daily as the aggregated fruit turn from green to red to black. This hedge is just filled with more blackberries than you can imagine.Long blackberry hedge in our gardenBramble shrub covered in blackberriesBlackberries hanging in bunches

At first, just one, a glossy purple clot

Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.

You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet

Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it

Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for

Picking. (Blackberry-Picking by Seamus Heaney)

Already I’ve started cooking. We have so many blackberries that I will need to make fools, sorbets, crumbles, jams and sauces. I need to empty out a freezer drawer so I can freeze them on trays before putting them together in a freezer bag. And perhaps save some to concoct a tipple just for grownups!

Naturally we’re sharing them with the wildlife living with us in our rural Sussex valley. Often birds flutter out from their hiding places in the brambles when we approach.

Blackberry hedge and fenceBlackberries under fenceClose up blackberriesTheo collecting blackberriesNot all of the blackberries are the same size or flavour. One part of the hedge leaning against our fence produces big juicy black fruit while just a few steps away they are smaller but sweeter. Not surprising as there are around 400 species in UK alone.

Theo searching for blackberriesI went with Theo to have a look behind this hedge but the brambles are so thick and wild we could not get close. So back we returned to our garden to pick some more.

On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on blackberries. (Old proverb)

Even if there are still some growing we’ll stop on Old Michaelmas Day.  According to British folklore on this day Lucifer spat and cursed blackberries after landing on thorny brambles when he was expelled from heaven.  It’s a sensible warning to stop picking by this date as blackberries will then not only become bitter with tannins but also will contain more fungus spores. Nevermind there’s a hawthorn nearby which already has sloe fruit growing on it – but we’ll wait and pick them after the first frost.

Blackberries in foraging still lifeBut for now we’ll forage for blackberries daily in our garden and then feast on them inside. There’s going to be lots of stained fingers and smiles around here in the weeks ahead.

15 thoughts on “Blackberries galore – in our garden!”

  1. We are going blackberry picking this afternoon. I love making a blackberry & apple crumble from our freezer in autumn as the nights draw in, its a tradition here! Beautiful words and pictures x

  2. i didn’t realise there were so many varieties of blackberries. When I was a child my used to tell me I couldn’t pick any blackberries below the knee as animals may have wee’d on them

  3. Yay! We have been doing blackberrying here this evening too – and randomly I have that exact bowl too! Small world…

    It’s so lovely that you have such space there to roam and enjoy the hedgerows. The Summer hols have sped by – I can see at this rate it’s going to be the half term hols in October before we get to you – just in time for the Autumn leaves though 😉

    Thanks for joining in again Kriss x

  4. It must be so nice to be able to pick blackberries from your own garden. They look very plump too. We’ve got a bush coming our way soon, which I’m really looking forward to. When my hands get stained by the juice I always think I look like I’ve got ‘zombie hands’ hehe. I need to use up the final few blackberries in the freezer from last year before I pick some more.

  5. What a harvest you have there! For me blackberries will forever be linked with my dad, he always goes foraging for them and my mum bakes him pies 🙂 I love the folklore surrounding them too, they’re so very British aren’t they?

  6. Great minds think alike, I’ve been talking about blackberries too. They really signify to me a turning point in the change to late summer. I was surprised by how many varieties there are, such a beautiful berry and I could take so many pictures of them in all their colours. How amazing how many you have got, bounty!! Love your vignette, makes me think of autumn starting.

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