Hedgerows are extremely important for wildlife and the environment.
They support a huge range of wildlife as shelter and food and we can benefit too from these plants at this time of the year.
Blackberries must be high on the list of the most foraged plants. For me (and probably many others) they were the first fruits that I ever went out picking. Foraging, as a term, wasn’t used when I went out blackberry picking with my mum. Armed with our plastic containers we would go out for hours until they were full up. We usually ended up sunburned, scratched by the thorns with our hands stained purple. Mum would make runny blackberry jelly with our haul and be extremely proud of it and rightly so.
A blackberry bush is a blackberry bush right? Wrong! There are many varieties of blackberry bushes in Europe, over 300 in fact. Though the differences, botanically are minute. I’m sure there are different varieties growing in my garden, some produce bigger tastier berries than the others.
Worth noting that brambles are super flowers for pollinators.
Bramble is a nuisance to some, but it is tenacious and successful because the thorns protect it from predation. The thorns help some animals to seek refuge beneath the branches. These include small mammals including hedgehogs and field and harvest mice, who like these areas in the hedgerows. However, its success is also its downfall in domestic gardens, due to the problem of thorns and its rapid spread. Some garden centres have thornless varieties available.
A blackberry is a free and abundant fruit that is packed with vitamin C, and with packets in the supermarkets costing around £2.50 we really should see more people out picking them. Blackberries grow abundantly normally, but don’t forget to forage responsibly and leave some for wildlife. They are eaten by birds and even foxes.
If you haven’t already tried, making jam is very easy. All you need is sugar with added pectin (a natural ingredient used to help set it, as blackberries have little of its own pectin), jars and a thick bottomed pan. There are lots of recipes you can use, here is one https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/blackberry-jam
Many thanks Julia, a brilliant reminder to get out in the hedgerows while you can!
We asked the On the Verge team for some more blackberry tips!
My granny told me not to pick the blackberries below my waist in case a dog had visited them and left their mark!