Thursday 27 August 2015

Where have all the blackberries gone?

When we were down in Dorset and Somerset recently, I couldn't help but notice masses of huge juicy blackberries beside the roads and in hedgerows.  My fingers were itching to get picking but the best ones were beside the motorway.

Back here in Wales, we will be lucky to get any sort of picking.  I can practically count on the fingers of one hand the number of ripe blackberries I have seen.  September might give us some sort of picking but it will be one of those years when any blackberry, however squishy or small will be welcome.  I am glad I still have several pounds in the freezer from last year.  We have had quite a cold dry summer (until August's rain) and lots of flowers never came to anything, just a mass of dried stems in the hedgerow, or else they never got pollinated because they flowered when we had days and days of rain.  Still, it looks like a good year for elderberries and I am hoping I can find some sloes after there being none last year.  Again, there were plenty in Somerset, but too early to pick them.  I have no chance of having Crab Apples locally now either - I noticed recently that the lovely old (100 yrs or so) crab apple tree I used to rely on for wine and jelly making, had been CHOPPED DOWN and Gary-the-Digger was in the field ripping out the stump.  I don't know what is happening in that field - unless they have planning permission for houses or something.  What a waste of a lovely tree.

I have been playing catch-up this week, but it wasn't until this morning that I got a chance to do anything with the soft fruit languishing in my fridge, so now I have cooked up blueberries, rhubarb (with preserved ginger) and I am going to make a cake with a punnet of strawberries.

Out in the garden the autumn Tidy Up continues, and I got 4 barrowloads of overgrowth from around the wildlife pond.  That desperately needs cleaning out a bit as there is a foot of leaves in the bottom and hardly any depth of water on top.  I will sort that next month, before things start hibernating in there.

Tomorrow I am going to have a lesson in rag rug making, so I am very excited about that.  As Autumn approaches, I always feel my craft-loving side return.

Yesterday we spent all day at a local auction, learning about collectable Chinese porcelain and china and jade, and how valuable it is (much of it was bought by Chinese bidders in the room or on the Internet.)

However, things are very quiet at the Unit and I can't help thinking that even if I had Ming or Qing or perhaps Zing(!) dynasty ceramics, even they would stay in the display cabinet!!!


  1. Blackberries started out here looking as though they were going to be good, but now there are few which seem to have germinated following a good flowering. I am sorry because I have none left in the freezer from last year and we do love a blackberry crumble.

  2. Bovey there is blackberries up here I am hoping next week to be picking :-)

  3. There are some decent blackberries round here but more that are small and brown and are obviously not going to come to anything. Elderberries are good but not ripe yet and sloes are poor as well in spite of masses of flowers in the spring - weather was wet and cold though. There don't seem to be many hawthorn berries this year but crab apples - I have two trees laden with them! I don't make jelly usually but maybe this year I will. Pity you don't live nearer, you could have had them. Lovely autumny post.

  4. I have been saying the same thing. I normally pick loads of blackberries but I just haven't been able to this year at all. I have literally seen about three in one of my usual places and that is it! Real shame.

  5. I've just noticed that along with all my blackcurrants, redcurrants, a few raspberries and all the boysenberries, the birds have had every single Rowanberry on the tree by the front gate, so I think finding food has been hard for them this summer.

    Dawn - now I know where to come blackberrying,

    Rowan - sigh. I'm not due to come up to Tam either. Never mind, thanks for the offer though.

    Louise - whereabouts in the country are you? Take a holiday in Somerset!

    Weaver - it's been a bad year for growing anything I think, though now Tam and Zane have gone back, I am inundated with beans!!

  6. All quiet here, too. Little traffic on the roads. I think everyone is away for the last hurrah before school starts again....
    Hope you like the rag rug making..we call it hooked rugs and I have been doing it for over 25 years...
    Off to administer an oral, under the tongue tranquilizer to my rescue mare so her feet can be trimmed....have to remove all food and water and be sure NOT to get any on me or it will knock me out, too. Not the warnings I want! Wish I had a has-mat coverall!

  7. Hi Lynda, round here they are all trailing disconsolately around the shops looking for pencil cases, new pens and geometry sets! Which is probably just as well as we have had some very sudden monsoon-type showers today. Gosh, you will have to post later and let us know you're not asleep in the corner of your rescue mare's stable!! I hope the hoof trimming goes well. I'd love to hear all about her.

    I have just read your blog roll and am saving it for blog-hopping on the next wet day - my oh my, LOTS to keep me going there. I am just going to do a very simple rough tousle-finish rug in cotton fabrics until I get the hang of it. Something I have been threatening to do for years now.

    1. Just off now to try it armed with rubber gloves....poor blacksmith says he is getting too old for this. One rescue mare who is impatient and an old donkey who is being treated with masses doses of vitamen E because of neurological problems caused by a vitamen E deficiency (that took AGES to diagnose)..if I drank, I would have a stiff drink or 3 after all this!

  8. Blackberries are suddenly ripening here - saw loads this afternoon although I haven't yet visited our usual blackberrying location so the situation could be different there. Looks like a good elderberry, sloe and hawthorn crop here too. So sorry to hear about your crab apple tree :(

  9. Lynda - relieved to hear you survived! I hope your mare is still speaking to you : )

    R. Robin - there are a couple of patches I need to check out which are normally prolific. I just have to wait for it to stop raining . . .

  10. I Hope you enjoyed your rag rug class. Feels like Autumn is here and I hate saying that as we are still in August!

  11. Suzie - it has felt like autumn since about the 2nd week of August. I LOVED my rag rug class and have been cutting out material ever since.