I am adding a bunch of berries to my garden, but my intentions stretch beyond the ordinary strawberry, blueberry, raspberry mix.
There are three different things I am interested in – Elderflower, Gooseberries, and Blackberries, and I am excited about each for different reasons.
Elder flower cordial was one of those British things that I learned about when living in England. Though curious to me, it seems all Brits know what it is, have had it at some point in time, and might even know someone who has made it, None of this is true for most Americans, so I am obviously intrigued.
I learned recently that Elderberry also has significant flu fighting qualities, making me wish I had actually planted Elder a few years ago so that I could be harvesting it and making my H1N1 Swine Flu elixir right now. (following the recipe advice of Magpie Eats).
So for this winter I will have to resort to Sambucol should the flu strike. But next winter….
Sambucus nigra (Black Elder) is one of those plants that, if placed well in the garden, can stop me in my tracks. I really love the feathery black cut leaves of this sizable shrub and the flowers are quite striking.
(BTW, that Elderberry syrup is canned in Weck jars – which I am currently obsessed with (tis the canning season). Check out this post to find out more about them).
Gooseberries make me think of my grandmother and mother. Apparently when my mom was little, she would pick gooseberries from bushes that grew along Spring Creek, which runs through my gran’s ranch in Montana. As a child, I spent summers on the ranch and frequently, both with my mother and without, would set out to pick gooseberries along the creek.
I want to relive what my mother did in her youth. But throughout a childhood of going gooseberry picking, we never found the bushes. Not even once. They must have died away sometime between when my mom was little and when I came along. Or perhaps we never hit them in the right season? So now, like my mother, I have this little obsession with gooseberries. If ever I see a jar of gooseberry jam I have to buy two – one for my mom and one for me – it is like finding the thing that we never did for so many years.
Now as an adult, with 6 acres on which I can plant whatever I want, I am planting gooseberries, so that my daughter – and maybe my mother too – can go picking these elusive berries. Maybe I can break the cycle. 😉
Earlier this summer our neighbor who owns a a U-pick orchard across the street told us about their blackberry thicket. He invited us to pick (for free) all that we could stand. (We are so lucky to have great neighbors!). The words ‘could stand’ are important though. If you have ever picked blackberries, you know about their crazy grabby thorns – they hook you and don’t let go.
I love blackberries and I love to look at them as much as I love to eat them. So after this first experience of picking, and seeing as they grow so well just across the road, I am planting my own. Except I have a plan…rather than plant them in this big round area, like my neighbors, I will plant them in a very thin line. This way, there is less need to climb in to the ticket as the fruit will all be reachable from the edges and the collateral damages to my body can be minimized.
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