All year long – and with last winter being relatively mild it really has been all year – I’ve been battling against brambles. Over the last few weeks the first year stems which will produce fruit next season have been growing away lustily, and in less manicured areas monstrous tentacles thick as a thumb have appeared, thorns snagging skin and clothing alike. But, for a few weeks at least, the time has come to relax about this unwelcome garden rambler.
It’s blackberry time.
The common blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) eschews the discipline and erect habit of its more civilised cousin the raspberry, choosing rather to lounge about in unruly fashion and scramble over anything in its way. Likely as not it also puts its feet up on the sofa, speaks with its mouth full and leaves its underpants on the bathroom floor. But it does possess the distinct advantage of requiring neither planning nor dedicated garden space, as it inserts itself at will and grows wherever it fancies. For those without gardens, or with gardens from which every bramble has been eradicated, a surfeit of free fruit is only as far away as the nearest hedgerow.
So whether yours are destined to be made into jam, used as an extra shot of flavour in a fruit crumble, a key ingredient of a delicious summer pudding or just crammed greedily into your mouth straight off the plant, dripping juice down your chin and still warm with the sun, this time of year provides a great reminder of simple pleasures. Free food is about as good as it gets.