Are We Walking to Alaska

Are We Walking to Alaska
Are We Walking to Alaska - A True Story

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Berries - Planted By the Birds

There are all sorts of wild berries in our area - the birds often help to plant them - and we get to enjoy them.

Blackberries are rampant here - if you aren't careful they will overtake you.  They will grow anywhere and everywhere - the little seed eating band fruit eating birds will see to that.  You have to be ever vigilant, lest your garden be overcome with them.

They are plentiful and delicious.  Some years the berries are huge, and some years, normal sized - but always tempting and scrumptious

This is our favorite place to pick them - no, I'm not going to tell you where this is.  There is an abandoned house on this property and the vines have overtaken the fence line and hang down into the driveway - a perfect spot for picking.

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking

of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among

the back bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

Mary Oliver

Some years the bushes are white with blossoms.  On a good blackberry picking year we gather several gallons of them.  I spread them on cookie pans and freeze, then bag them up for the freezer - to make jam and pies and cobblers all through the year.  Add some blueberries and raspberries and you have a delicious Bumbleberry Pie.

And some years, not so much.  These blackberries are actually Himalaya Berries, brought to our country for experiments by Luther Burbank in California. He wanted  to cross them with the native blackberry and make a more prolific plant - the seeds of the Himalaya Berries were eaten by birds and in just a few years the  plants spread from southern California to British Columbia in Canada.

The berries grow in vast patches - the mounds (about 5 or 6 feet tall in this photo) in front of the trees are common sights.  Some people water the bushes extra if they are on their property to give a consistently bigger crop.  We have one friend that placed sturdy ladders across the tops of the patch of berries like the one above, so they could crawl over the top and get to the best berries.  They are very sturdy plants, with massive canes.

And Elderberries - bright red on green.  You can dip the flower heads in batter and deep fry for the best fritters around.

In early summer the berries turn bright red and almost seem to glow.

If there is space - the Elderberries will grow into huge thickets, or they might appear right next to your house in an unexpected spot - they can grow to about 5 feet in one year.

Thimbleberries - ahhh the Thimbleberry - looks beautiful and tastes like - nothing.  A very bland berry - mostly good for eating right off the bush, though some people have been known to much Thimbleberry jelly, one of the prettiest and clearest red jellies there is.

Thimbleberry blossom - almost a berry.

The blossom of the  Thimbleberry is bright white and easy to spot

Salmon Berries.  These grow also in Alaska.  We had a fence of them along one side of our yard when I was growing up.  Though you didn't have to have them in your yard - there were lots in the woods too.

They have the prettiest blossoms - and are one of the first berries to bloom in the spring.  There are orange/yellow berries and darker, clear red/orange berries - both taste the same, and make fabulous jelly.

Early blossoms this year - pink and delicate.

Wonderful free berries, planted by the birds.



Ida said...

Oh YUM! I love blackberries. There are a lot of them up in the mountains where we live. We use to pick them but our favorite spot got flooded out one summer and now it's private property so no more picking. Instead I buy from a local Fruit stand.

Ida said...

Oh YUM! I love blackberries. There are a lot of them up in the mountains where we live. We use to pick them but our favorite spot got flooded out one summer and now it's private property so no more picking. Instead I buy from a local Fruit stand.

Ailime said...

Lindas muito lindas imagens de primavera. As amoras me fizeram lembrar os tempos em que em criança as apanhava e comia. Tempos que já não voltam. Abraço. Ailime

Crispy said...

Salmon berries are my favorites but then nothing beats a black berry warmed by the summer sun :0)


Jeanne said...

I remember rasberries being very abundant in our neighborhood as a child.
I lived in the city so that was about it for wild berries. I'm going to have to look around me. I'll bet they are here and I just didnt notice.

A Garden of Threads said...

Blackberries are great to eat while on a hike, yum!!

Pondside said...

We have a LOT of blackberries up here too. I freeze mine like you do - lot of them for winter pies and ice cream. I am trying to restrict them to a line along our fence - but like you, I too have a favourite, secret patch!

Linda said...

A very nice series! I also love the collage on your header.

Kay said...

Yum! Berries! So nice to think of/anticipate this time of year! We find tiny native blackberries on our daily walk - so small compared to the Himalayas, but delicious! And I discovered last year that picked at just the right time thimbleberries are really very nice. I think I'd picked them a little too late before. And I'm glad to see an example of elderberries. I didn't know what they looked like in the wild.

Suburban Girl said...

My neighbor used to let blackberries grow wild on a hill in front of her house. She would let us pick them. But now she is selling the house and had the hill cleared. I believe the berries will return because they are persistant, but the new owners might keep after them. We'll wait and see. We grow raspberries, their brambles are a little more friendly.

May said...

You have me feeling wistful now! As a young girl I grew up in Western KS in a very dry climate. Berry bushes did not thrive there, but-oh! how I remember reading Blueberries for Sal and wishing they did! How I would love to fill a tin pail with fresh picked berries.

Hyacynth said...

Mouthwatering, indeed! I cannot wait for berry season.