Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blackberry and Their Control

Yes, I realize blackberry plants are not exactly trees though I have some that must think they are given their height. Tree or not, these woody plants often take the space of a tree in our landscape whether we grow them on purpose or not or for fruit or ornamental reasons.

The homestead we bought is rife with wild blackberries. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I thanked God for this bounty and set about learning what to do with them. I found out in short order that they were to be respected (Ouch!! Thorns!!) and tamed. Left unsupervised, these things can spread to take over your entire yard (or farm).

The first few years weren’t too bad, a few stray plants turned up in places where I didn’t want them. Thank you very much little birds! But once we got chickens, fuhgeddah ‘bout it! I have blackberry plants coming up everywhere. I also learned you need to remove them promptly. Once they get established, they are difficult and painful to remove.

There are still a few plants growing outside our blackberry patch that need to be removed but we finally have it under control. It takes diligence though. If you are considering adding blackberries to your landscape of orchard, be mindful that you will need to monitor their spread. In many places they are considered a noxious weed because they are capable of choking out the natural vegetation. 

In order to successfully remove the blackberry plant, you have to get the entire rhizome out. A rhizome is like the root structure for the blackberry and it resembles the ginger root or the rhizome that an iris grows from. Leaving even a tiny piece of this in the soil means new blackberry shoots will come up. 
Obviously mowing and burning are not good methods of removal for this reason, though either can help control the spread and the bramble for a time and with repetition.

To maintain a blackberry patch you must be diligent about harvesting of the berries so they don’t fall to the ground and seed themselves or that birds and animals don’t spread them for you. You must also monitor it to prevent new canes from sprouting in places where you don’t want them.

Blackberries are beautiful when they blossom as each 2 year old or older cane is covered in white flowers. The berries range from large and sweet to small and tart depending on the variety and the bushes provide a wonderful habitat for birds and other animals in the wild. Plant blackberries with care and know what you are getting into before you do.

Do you have any tips on controlling blackberries?

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Arbors or structures like them date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, perhaps even farther. The actual definition of an arbor is “A shady resting place in a garden or park, often made of rustic work or latticework on which plants, such as climbing shrubs or vines, are grown” according to The Free Online Dictionary

A pergola like this gives an open, airy feeling

Using this definition, an arbor can be many from a large tree that provide ample shade or a combination of elements that work together to create a shady resting spot.

A few years ago, the county did some road work and redesigned the frontage of my property. I have been working to create an arbor of my own in what is now a sun drenched area. Several rose bushes, a pink lilac bush, some azaleas and a butterfly bush have been planted along the edge of the property to obscure the chain link fence. 

Arches like this can be the ideal spot for climbing plants like roses or grapevines

Set back from it are some young trees I dug up from other parts of the property and moved there. Among them, I have moved an American Redbud, a white dogwood and a plum tree which has its first crop of plums this year though the tree is only 5 feet tall. I don’t know what type of plum tree it is because they were here when we bought the place and the older ones have all died off now. 

Next up will be to dig up a black, wrought iron arbor my mother bought me as a hose warming gift when we moved here 14 years ago and move it to this new location. I have 2 pink, climbing rose vines I purchased that I hope will claim the arbor in time. 

Imagine sitting under the shade of this wisteria.

The area I am working on should be partially visible form mu office where I spend the majority of my day and from my living room. I am hoping it will be an inviting place where I can sit with my laptop and work, when weather permits.