The moon is new today so we’ve just entered the Month of the Bramble or the Month of the Vine. You might choose to follow my ‘Ogham’ tag for earlier posts in this series. Several of the species called ‘trees’ in the Ogham are shrubs or climbers, not trees. But they’re all woody species.
The fruit of the wild bramble is the blackberry. In late summer and early autumn, blackberrying trips are fun so long as you’re careful of the spiky plants. You can eat it straight from the vine, cook it into tasty dishes and jams or brew it into wine. Who needs the grapevine (Vitis spp.) when you can make blackberry wine? The best home wine I ever made was blackberry port and as a home wine should, it knocked your socks off.
My childhood home backed onto a landfill site where R. fruticosus grew in abundance. There was a belt of trees, no doubt planted to shield us from the sight of the rubbish dump, and we didn’t have Right of Way over there. But we and our neighbours often trespassed on the landfill. It teemed with birds and it was the first place I saw wild bulrushes (Scirpus iacustris). We’d recycle furniture that people had thrown away and in season, we’d pick blackberries.
The owners of that site probably regarded R. fruticosus as a weed. It turns up on waste ground, in gardens and farmland throughout the British lowlands and hills. If unchecked it contributes to the succession towards woodland. When wild brambles invade your land it’s not easy to control the vines. Bramble-bashing is one of the jobs that Conservation Volunteers do.
On the other hand, we have cultivated blackberries. I inherited an ‘Oregon Giant’ with my allotment. This year, along with my other fruit bushes, the blackberry has thrived in our cool wet summer. I’ve been freezing a lot and I expect to be enjoying blackberries all through the year.