Thursday, August 23

Beauty and the beast

We have a beast living on our allotment plot. It is as old as our 'ownership' of the plot. It marked the fact we had been accepted by at least one of the long standing gardeners as it was given to us by one of the old timers, (I wonder if people nowadays refer to us in this way?), soon after we showed we were going to be serious gardeners.  Sadly the giver is now no longer around but his gift is still flourishing and providing us with a yearly supply of lovely, big, juicy, blackberries.
So why is such a prolific plant called the beast? If you have ever picked blackberries, I'm sure you know the answer. To protect the lovely berries the canes are covered in vicious thorns. Not only do the thorns manage to tear at flesh when picking the blackberries but they also making keeping the plant in check challenging to say the least.
Our one original plant has developed into a thicket in spite of yearly hard pruning. The vigorous, spiked, canes would reach out across our entire plot and our neighbours plot too if left to their own devices. If it wasn't for the magnificent crop that it produced no doubt it would have been long gone!

Last year we planted a thornless Loch Ness blackberry from Victoriana Nursery Gardens. The idea is that this plant will eventually make picking blackberries a less painful task. This year it has produced a few berries which are also a good size.
We will, however, secateurs at the ready, need to keep a watchful eye to spot any thorny canes that try to sneak in. If any are allowed to remain then this more benign plant could turn into a beast like it's older cousin.
Now we just need Loch Ness to do plenty of growing so it can maybe replace the beast. Having said that I'm not sure we would have the heart to remove the beast altogether but maybe we could prune it down to ground level and tidy up the ground around it and start again. I'm sure that the undergrowth around the base of the plant is providing an ideal hiding place for all the nasty creatures that enjoy feasting on me - at the moment I am an itchy mess!

As for beauty on the plot, the exotic visitor first mentioned on Martyn's blog is still hanging around.

Jo thinks it's a lovebird and Lorraine has gone one further and thinks it's a Fischer lovebird.

At the moment it regulary sits in one of our trees cheeping happily so maybe we can take some seed on our next plot visit and try to coax it to the ground. Anyone any idea what its chances are of surviving 'in the wild'.




21 comments:

  1. The blackberries are looking great. When I went away I only had small green ones so I should check to see if any have plumped up and ripened.

    As for the love-bird surviving the winter I'm not sure. Nature has a marvellous away of adapting but there natural habitat is Tanzania which doesn't get awfully cold. Also they are a very social bird and like lots of interaction so it may get lonely. Have you tried putting up some leaflets to see if anyone has lost one. The love-birds an bond well with humans so I think it will be great if you can coax it down. From looking at the photo it is obviously a bird that was well cared for.

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    1. We'll have to see what we can do for the lovebird - of course we could have seen two different ones as if they were kept together they could both have escaped/

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    2. I spoke to someone in the pet shop about winter survival and they said it was highly unlikely so hopefully they fine there way back home before then. I guess you could have seen a pair and not even known it!!

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  2. The blackberries look yummy, not an easy job picking them! The bird is lovely. Reminds me of ones I saw in Australia. I'd say slim chance of survival, but one never knows.

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    1. I have the scratches to confirm that Kelli

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  3. Ouch blackberry picking is a painful task isn't it. My feeling re the bird is that it'll probably be alright while the weather is warm but it may struggle with the cold winter - especially if food is scarce. Having said that I really have very little idea at all....

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    1. Double ouch Liz. I popped some seed on the ground yesterday - if I do this on every allitment viit I hope I can coax it down - although I didn't see any sign of it yesterday.

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  4. It's nice that the blackberry brings back memories of the plot owner who gave it to you, his legacy lives on. It sounds as though the bird is local to the area if it's hanging around, you could check any pet shops in the area to see if there's any notices in the window saying that someone's lost one.

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    1. I didn't see the bird yesterday Jo so I'm not sure whether it's still around

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  5. I love blackberry picking. I think it will be time soon to set off to our local patch. I have a little bush in the garden which also has produced a few fruit. I shall have to check the variety.

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    1. I used to go with my granddad whne I was a child, awpol

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  6. Why not try tempting the bird down for a closer look with a handful of nice juicy Blackberries??

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    1. I guess if it wants the blackberries they are already being offered on a plate, Mark. The thorns don't seem to worry birds.

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  7. Those are full grown blackberries! SO juicy!
    You have beautiful parrot there! ;)

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    1. It's amazing how such a colourful bird blends in when in the trees Malar.

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  8. Looks like you're going to have a fantastic blackberry harvest. I don't bother with them as the lanes round abouts are full of them.

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    1. We always seem to do well for blackberries Elaine. Although sometimes the fruiting is over fairly quickly if the weather is hot and dry - remember that do you?

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  9. Ouch - but yum! I am looking forward to blackberrying around here, but think I will keep the plants at bay in the garden, even though one is making a determined effort to invade from next door. Beautiful bird, but have no idea what its chanced are in a British winter.

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    1. The thornless variety would be OK but you do have to cut out any canes that develop thorns or it reverts. I wouldn't have a beast in the garden though - an allotment is different. We went to an RSPB reserve fairly near to us and wild blackberries were growing. I couldn't believe how small they were compared to ours. Maybe letting them run wild without any pruning eventually has this effect.

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  10. Given that last night was the coldest August on record in some places, I would think your pretty little bird has very little chance of surviving for much longer. Any chance of catching him and finding a home with someone who likes caged birds?

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    1. This was the last time we saw him, BW. I did keep putting seed down to try and get him to come down. I think he used to turn up at the garage of a man nearby who keeps parrots/parakeets so I hope he has found a sanctuary.

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