Many a summer afternoon and evening I spent tramping over hillside and field, looking for that magical place between settled, and recently disturbed ground. At the places where passing time and changing hands have relegated century old pastures to recovering woodland, and at fence-rows and hedgerows and the edges of woods where brambles freely roam.
For the first thirty-plus years of my life, I pursued the sometimes abundant, sometimes sparse and elusive wild black raspberry, with a gusto that ignored understanding my quarry. I was focused. My mantra? "Get the berry in the pail." Tempting morsel of delight...a bite of ripe sunshine, the raspberries filled pies and halfpint Mason jelly jars when my children were growing up.
And the kids came along on the berry picking adventures.There was usually a small herd of us occupying pastures where herds of milk cows used to graze. That herd included the dogs, Gus and Pokey.
Somewhere in my mid thirties, on one of our forays, we discovered a round patch of brambles. There was no way in other than to stomp brambles down, creating a path. The berries were huge, plump, and filled our buckets faster then you can say, "I'll take a slice of that pie."We meandered home with heavy pails, and lips and tongues (and some cheeks) stained the darkest of dark purples.
We continued to visit the patch over the next couple of weeks, picking the berries as they ripened. And we found ourselves reaching farther and farther out on the brambles to reach the best berries of the day. That in turn caused us to trample more and more brambles, especially those worthless ones that didn't have any berries on them.
The following summer when the raspberries ripened, we hurried to the round patch, and delight turned to dismay. Where had our patch gone? There were some berry-less shoots and a lot of dead brambles. ~sigh~
I set to work to discover why our patch had died. and the answer, in a nutshell is this: raspberries have perennial roots and biennial shoots.
Don't trample the raspberry brambles. :-)
Translation: The roots live on and on. The shoots sent up by the roots live for two years. The first year, they send up a stem and leaves. The second years flowers (thus, berries).
This is a first year shoot--an example of the "worthless ones" I used to trample to get to the good ones: Ha! Tender, pale-green skin, thin, needle-like thorns.
This is a second year shoot, what that first year shoot will look like if left to stand:
Botanists might wish to add a note about the procreation part--since black raspberries do make new plants another way, as do red raspberries, albeit slightly differently. But that's a tale for another day. :-)
Don't trample the brambles...