Vines and Other Climbing Plants




The country past time of going “Blackberrying” down winding lanes on a warm, sunny Autumn day, has long been a favourite of children for generations. They love to “ferret” through the rambling hedges getting the odd prickle in the process to find the ripest, juiciest Blackberries and at the end of the day they return home with their hands and faces stained with the dark purple juice from the berries. Very often the wicker baskets they have been given to fill by optimistic mothers are practically empty as what fruits they have found have been eaten during their foraging. In the past nobody in their right mind would have ever dreamed of deliberately planting a Blackberry in their garden as the wild, rampant plants, with their vicious little thorns, spread like wildfire by sucker and seed dropped by birds. However, this is no longer true as there are some compact and thorn less-varieties that also have a much-improved cropping potential.

Blackberries are not really a climber, but more of a scrambler that produce very long running shoots, often many yards in length, that can be trained up a framework as if they were a climber. The long shoots are a little like Strawberry Runners in as much every so often along the shoot, new leaf buds will appear with the potential to develop into fruiting shoots that will also root down if encouraged. The difference to Strawberries is that these developing buds will quickly grow and fruit, unlike Strawberries, where the new plantlets grown on runners generally need to root down and grow for a year or two before fruiting. This means that one large Blackberry plant can be grown to cover quite a large framework with fruiting plant.

As an alternative to Raspberries, Blackberries have a much thicker stem, are not fussy about where they grow, need less regular pruning and as such need a little less care and attention generally than raspberries. The only thing Blackberries are fussy about is being planted at the right depth. They do not like being planted too deeply.

Fruiting time is late summer, much the same as for late Raspberries, but they do not need netting like Raspberries, as although birds will take some fruit it won’t be as much as it would for most soft fruit.

Apart from true Blackberries there are many Raspberry/Blackberry "Hybrids" or "Crosses" that are commonly available to buy, of which the Boysenberry, Loganberry and Tayberry are perhaps the most popular.

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