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"My wine-dark fruit tempts every feathered messenger, yet there is no part of me without virtue. As a tonic to expecting mothers, I am no stranger. I shatter stones, soothe throats, colds, and flus. I cleanse and sweeten, ease breath, provide shelter in the wild, and am loved by Goddesses and every forest child." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you." ~Joseph Joubert "Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity." Hippocrates "Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour." ~Proverbs 3:16 This poem refers to both Raspberries and Blackberries, it just depends on how dark you like your wine, I suppose but they are both useful for nearly all the same health issues. Both are certainly a welcome addition to anyone's diet! These berries have a high gallic acid and tannin content found in every part of the plant. Bioflavonoids also found in this fruit are excellent anti-oxidants which help protect us from free radicals, fatigue caused by allergic reactions, and infection. Black and Raspberries, like other berries, are also wonderful natural anti-inflammatories, and because of their antioxidant nutrients, Vitamins A, C & E, the minerals selenium, zinc, manganese and copper contents, they help to keep arteries clear. This makes them an excellent diet choice for anyone wanting to keep blood pressure down, thin down or clean out their blood, rheumatism and other inflammatory conditions, or those with heart conditions. Blackberries are a wonderful tonic for hot flashes, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. Combined with something like Dong Quai (a form of Angelica), Black or Blue Cohosh, all of which are natural sources of estrogen, it becomes a powerful aid to all women in various stages of menopause. Blackberries can be dried, canned, or frozen, and you can use berries, bark of the root, or leaves. Powdered blackberries, for example, when mixed with a little water are excellent for counteracting diarrhea. Young shoots and leaves are tasty in salads. Leaves and roots can be steeped in hot water for about five minutes for an excellent tea which is excellent for mouth irritations or sore throats because of its mild astringent qualities, although it soothes upset stomachs well too. Blackberry cordial is wonderful for anyone suffering from colds or flus, and I particularly enjoy a nice berry blend herbal tea (blackberry, cherry, raspberry, and blueberry) when I'm under the weather with either of those maladies. Blackberry vinegars have been used to combat sore throats as a compress. Blackberries and Raspberries make excellent tonics for expecting mothers as it keeps circulation flowing freely, eases fatigue, and is gentle enough to not be harmful to the child. "Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." ~Leonard Cohen "He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life." ~George Sand, 1851 "One expected growth, change; without it, the world was less, the well of inspiration dried up, the muses fled." ~ Charles De Lint Blackberries and Raspberries have also been used to treat dysentery, hemorrhoids, cystitis, gum inflammations, thrush, and coughs as well as to treat burns and wash wounds. The root is the most astringent part of the plant and is best used to make the throat gargles and mouthwashes. Berries and root bark simmered down into a syrup with cherries, honey, licorice/angelica, marshmallow, and citrus makes an unbeatable cough syrup to soothe throats and chests sore from coughing. Adding a little green tea and herbs like slippery elm bark, horehound, eucalyptus, hyssop, or elder flowers makes it an unrivaled treatment for bronchitis and other non-productive coughs. Doctors used to advise those with kidney stones to drink cranberry or raspberry juice, but studies now show that if your kidney stones contain oxalate, you should avoid these beverages along with: chocolate, peanuts, tea, instant coffee (more than 8 ounces a day), rhubarb, beets, beans, beets, berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, etc. ), Concord grapes, dark leafy greens, oranges, tofu, sweet potatoes and draft beers. Otherwise, berries make an excellent diuretic, and like cranberries, are good for maintaining healthy kidneys and urinary tracts. For all their stone-shattering ability, lemon juice and plenty of water remains as the best home remedy for getting rid of, or preventing kidney stones. "Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors." ~Charles De Lint "Stone walls confine a tinker; cold iron binds a witch; but a musician's music can never be fettered, for it lives first in her heart and mind." ~ Charles De Lint "My life is my message." Mahatma Ghandi "In prosperity let us most carefully avoid pride, disdain, and arrogance." ~Cicero These berries are a cane fruit. Once planted, gardeners can easily get them to spread by staking growing cane tips to the ground which encourages the cane to root. They do grow and spread rapidly so keep a close eye on them in the garden and plant them where you have plenty of space for them to spread. Once a cane has fruited, it will not produce again and should be pruned. Most varieties are thorned, but I'm particularly fond of the thornless variety for my garden. Blackberries and Raspberries, aka Brambles, have sweetly scented five-petaled white flowers that flower from about June-September. These vine-like berries are sacred to Brighid, Celtic triple Goddess of Forge/Crafting, Healing and Poetry. The Romans and Greeks equated her to Minerva/Athena or Hestia/Vestia, but she has also been known as: Bridg, Brigid, Bride, Bridgit, St. Bridgit, Brigantia, the Bright Mother or Goddess, Mother of Ireland, and the Fire-forged. Brambles are also associated with Aine, Celtic goddess of love/fertility, growth, and animals, especially cattle. Aine is what I refer to as a Field Goddess, much like Demeter, but she has also been referred to as a Fairy Queen. Blackberries are also considered to be sacred to: the Norse God of Thunder Thor, Hecate, Hades, Bacchus, Lugh Lamfada, Meditrina, Greenman/Greenwoman, Harvest and Vine deities like Herne the Hunter, Love and Fertility deities, the Moon, Rabbit spirit, Deer spirit, all manner of Bird and Insect spirits, and the Fae. "To be a poet is a condition, not a profession." ~Robert Frost "The poetry of the earth is never dead." ~John Keats "Life is like art. You have to work hard to keep it simple and still have meaning." Charles De Lint Magically, they are considered to be feminine in energy, associated with the planet Venus and the element Water, although I have also seen them associated with Mars. They would be used to honor any of these deities, to invoke healing, prosperity, protection (particularly thorned). These berries have been known by the names: dewberry, thimbleberry, goutberry, cloudberry, and bramble-kite. Passing through a Bramble arch was said to cure all the same things that one would actually treat with either Black or Red raspberries. Apple Blackberry pies are still favored for Lughnasa celebrations, representing the fertility of summer (Lugh) combined with the fertility of autumn (Brigid). Now that we can obtain them during their off seasons, they are also very welcome at Imbolc celebrations and wedding feasts. In the language of flowers, Blackberries represent dangerous pride and Raspberries represent remorse or misery. Why Brambles have these associations has been lost over time, although in the Medieval ages it was said that the Devil was kicked out of Heaven on Michaelmas (September 29th) and when he hit the Earth, he landed in a Bramble. He is said to return every year on this date to curse and spit upon the plant that tormented him. It was considered bad to harvest or eat brambles after September 29th for this reason. Personally, I think this is simply a case of the new religion trying to discredit the old one. I prefer the outlook of B'rer Rabbit when it comes to Briar patches and Brambles! "Hear the voice of the Bard! Who present, past, and future sees; Whose ears have heard the Holy Word, that walked among the ancient trees." ~ William Blake "A Druid in training must be a bard before he is a priest, for music is one of the keys to the laws of the universe." ~ Marion Zimmer Bradley "Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant." ~Horace These lovely fruits should be celebrated and appreciated for their many connections to health, prosperity, creativity and protection. For me, Summer is not complete for without the sweet taste of berries on the tongue, still warm from the sun, greedily devoured by the handfuls as you stand waist deep in the wild woods. I prefer the sweet Blackberry over the tart Raspberry, but I'm perfectly willing to enjoy either whenever the opportunity presents itself. Brighid and Athena are very special deities to me, and the Bramble is forever marked by their hands in my opinion. Health, prosperity, love, wisdom, home, poetry... all good things flowing with dark red life directly from the heart are represented by these marvelous plants. When I feel in need of creative inspiration, the rich taste of these fruits always brings forth poetry. Brighid is a patron of healers, bards, mothers, the "fire-forged" and women in general. Life is the forge in which each soul is tested by flame and hammer before being thrust into the healing waters. Folded, hammered, buried in burning coals... this is the process that makes the keenest blades, the strongest weapons, although it is damn uncomfortable for the sword! Those who have been forge-tested, passed through the many hardships and pains of life, yet remain gentle of heart, willing to heal and help others, those who find solace in poetry and music, those who lovingly bend their talents towards any craft are beloved of Brighid. I believe it is this dual knowledge, that life is both light and dark, sweet and painful, that brings the associations of remorse and dangerous pride. One cannot be wise without understanding the pain inherent in life, and a heart willing to love and be joyful despite the inevitable sorrows. To my mind, the Brambles are a caution that "It shows a weak mind not to bear prosperity as well as adversity with moderation." (Cicero) more than they are representative of an immoderate life and the remorse it brings. How do Brambles appear in your life? "Oh list' to the tale of a poor Irish harper And scorn not the string of his old withered hands But remember those fingers they once could move sharper To raise up the strains of his dear native land" ~ The Bard of Armagh, lyrics from an Irish folksong "When the blackberries hang swollen in the woods, in the brambles nobody owns, I spend all day among the high branches, reaching my ripped arms, thinking of nothing, cramming the black honey of summer into my mouth; all day my body accepts what it is. In the dark creeks that run by there is this thick paw of my life darting among the black bells, the leaves; there is this happy tongue." - Mary Oliver, August "Blackberries...Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes. Ebon in the hedges, fat with blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers. I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me." ~ Sylvia Plath ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This verse is part of a larger piece within the Who Sings Now? series, entitled "The Field"
Oh, boy. I live near loads of thornless blackberry bushes and I also find them relatively easy to grow in my back garden. Not only are they easy to take care of, i.e. they need minimum sunlight (that's what I've got in my garden) but quite a lot of water (I live near to some gravel pits). Planting them couldn't be easier - buy some seeds form your local flower shop/garden center, they shouldn't be more than a fiver a packet, then plant them in a flat area, widely spaced between other plants. Eventually it will grow, and will need trimming back whenever you decide it's too big for the space you have reserved for it. Eventually, sometime during the year, usually in Spring, that if you planted it early winter, should bear fruit without those prickly thorns that everyone hates. My wife (?!) normally puts them in pies and crumbles which taste absolutely divine! They taste like the epitome of fruit desserts you can get! Being next to gravel pits also adds to my collection as I can go out, and while walking the dog, can pick blackberries. BEWARE: Birds can often pick them off, therefore decreasing your yield within your garden - to combat this, place a bird table with sweeter smelling goodies on the opposite side of your garden - or a bird feeder. This might encourage more birds into your garden, but generally they should keep to the bird table. This would work better is there is already a load of birds within your garden. And there you have it - Perfectly crafted pies and only tastes as good as the cost, time and effort put in to them. Advantages: No thorns! YaY! They do taste really nice Cheaper than buying them at a shop Disadvantages: Can go mouldy if not kept in perfect conditions! IJC
I planted an Oregon Thornless two autumns ago, tucking it in carefully with some nice compost against a south-facing wall in the orchard. I knew blackberries would grow well in my soil, because brambles are one of my problem weeds. So after watering in and talking to it kindly, I stood back to await results. The next summer, the plant had 4 main stems which grew to about 3 ft long. In September, I counted about 10 fruits, but the birds got to them before I did. Not as prolific as I’d hoped! So this year I have cosseted the plant, giving it a mulch of compost and making sure not too many weeds were competing with it. Result – about 10 fruits. At least I got to them first this time! The fruits are large, and the taste is quite good – but what do you do with 10 blackberries? (9 after I’d eaten one). Not much of a pie there! I looked round the garden, and in the corner near the compost heap I found some brambles that I hadn’t got round to pulling out. They are all tangled up with a holly tree – that’s my excuse! The wild brambles were laden with fruit this afternoon, with lots more to come. And the taste! I was instantly transported back to the 1950’s, Sunday afternoons in October (this was in the North East). My Dad and I raiding the hedgerows with plastic bags, falling in the ditches, getting stung by nettles, and eating at least as many as we took home. My poor Mum having to make pies, jams and jellies so as not to waste the bounty (no freezers then). Stained fingers and mouths. Well, I got the stained fingers again, and I got scratched by the bramble thorns and the holly, but it was worth it. I still have hopes of the thornless bush – perhaps it’s in the wrong place. I will see how it does next year, but I will also take care to leave a few brambles as well. I would not advise anyone to collect blackberries from the hedgerows along country roads these da ys – you’re likely to get poisoned if you do! You don’t know whether the plants have been sprayed with anything, and cars still have nasties coming out of their exhausts, even though leaded petrol is no more. Organically grown blackberries are good for you – they contain dietary fibre, vitamin C and potassium. If you do go blackberrying, make sure you do it before 10th October – apparently the Devil spits on them after this, and you don’t want to eat Devil-spit!
Next months crop of raspberries will be good if you spend some time on the bushes now. Raspberries need a lot of feeding,asthe canes occupy the same site for years and can soon deplete the soil.Use fertiliser with high potash content to encourage good fruits.If you feel your bushes need a quick boost, give them some foliar feeding.Apply it at ten day intervals between now and fruiting time.Raspberry bushes should also have ample supplies of moisture, especially when the canes are growing and the berries are swelling.Give the roots a thorough soaking during any dry spells and you will end up with better yeilds. Remember to keep a check on the canes as the swelling berries can make them snap off with the weight as they grow.
Blackberrying has always been an emotive experience for me, recalling those never-ending sunny, childhood afternoons in country lanes with my family. The trying-to-grow-just-one-more-inch, as I worked my way ever deeper into the hedgerow clutching a bucket, then wishing I had long trousers as I slowly extricated myself from among the briars. The sweet taste of sun warmed plump fruit, and the later glory of blackberry jelly, [and even wine in one particularly abundant year- an exceptionally full bodied and strong example that was like a countryside communion]. Anyway: life got busier, the roads got more perilous, and my dad bought himself a thornless blackberry to grow at home, next to the loganberries and raspberries. This plant took very happily to growing by the fence at the end of the garden, and established itself mightily over the years, produces pounds and pounds of fruit every season. Because of its proximity, we could pick the berries regularly for blackberry and apple crumble or pie, as well as making blackberry jelly [the juice from the cooked fruit is strained through a jelly bag, or doubled muslin, before boiling with sugar to produce a clear, seedless jam]. The plant enjoys well-fed and watered soil, but is very tolerant of drought and neglect once established, and is easy to train along a fence or wall. The new growth it puts out this year will bear next years fruit; as with all plants like this, it’s best to prune out the old, diseased or dead wood each year- I’ve done it both in the autumn after fruiting has finished, or in the spring when belatedly tidying some of the wilder bits of the garden. If you do prune in the spring, be careful not to damage the new growing tips of the runners. To propagate this plant, just let the end of a runner touch down onto the ground, and it will root, and start another plant, enabling you to quickly grow a blackberry hedge along a fence. If you prefer, y ou can let it root into a pot of soil/compost, ready for transplanting/ giving away. This is how I got mine; as a transplant from my dad, and over the 6 years I have had it, it has established itself in half a dozen places along the boundary with our neighbours, forming a fruitful green covering for the fence. Even better, despite its vigourous habit, it causes no arguments, because it has no defensive prickles, and bountiful fruit with a good flavour, which we encourage them to enjoy. This also lets us release toddlers to enjoy a snack- the only drawback is the stains when they wipe their hands on their clothes! I would wholeheartedly recommend this plant to anyone who fancies fresh fruit from their garden, even if you have to buy it, rather than getting a plant from a friend: The blossom and foliage are attractive in their own right; The fruit is a good size, has a lovely flavour, and is plentiful; The plant is not disease prone, and is vigourous. [ A final word: after he gave us the plant, my dad moved, and I have supplied him with offspring from the plant that he originally gave me: it‘s thriving in his new garden.]