July 12, 2008

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

As I was messing about in the garden today, this changing-of-the-guard image struck me as kind of neat:


The Joe Pye Weed is just coming out as the Oak Leaf Hydrangia packs it in, a sure sign that we're about at the midsummer waypoint.

Since I had managed to filch the camera from the Missus, I snapped a couple other shots in the garden as well. Here is some Russian Sage:


And how about a little Cosmos? Why I haven't planted this in past years I simply can't imagine. What a perfect filler it is!


Actually, my main task today was dealing with the area behind our back fence, known sometimes as the "meadow", the "pasture" or the "back-forty", but usually just called "behind the fence".


I've been so busy lately that I haven't had time to deal with it properly and the grasses were about a foot high or more: I had to sweep the area with a weedwacker first and then mow it twice.

This is the edge of a big wodge of county property behind Orgle Manor. It's zoned for a school which, owing to shifts in the demographic growth 'round here, is unlikely ever to get built. Every now and again the neighborhood has to fight off the efforts of the Soccer Nazis or fly-by-night McMansions builders to get the tract rezoned.

Even if it did get rezoned, however, Orgle Manor should be safe from having construction encroach on its desmense, because just inside the tree line we have our own little EPA-protected creek:


Oh, as long as I had the ol' camera, I also snapped a close-up of the bushes that dominate one side of the meadow:


You'll probably snicker, but I'm ashamed to say that I don't even know what these are. The bushes are big, fast-growing and armed with extremely aggressive spikes. The berries certainly look tempting, but without better identification I don't feel inclined to take the chance. Anybody know?

Posted by Robert at July 12, 2008 02:04 PM | TrackBack

My guess is Blackberries, but not the kind that you get e-mail on. They look like blackberries, and blackberries sure have thorns. Green when they first start, red when they're immature, black when they're ready. Might have little thingies between the berry parts. Taste OK, but seed-filled. http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=blackberries&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi


Posted by: Dan. at July 12, 2008 02:33 PM

Blackberries. I have some growing with my raspberries so I am pretty sure. They are the earliset to bloom and the last to become ripe so, a pain in the neck. And yes, the thorns are vicious.
But hey, if you can have them for free so to speak, go for it (before the birds do).
A good way to use them is: pick berries, put in food processor, whirl into mush and strain through cheesecloth. Heat berry juice and sugar to taste to make a syrup, chill and pour over ice cream! You won't regret it.

Posted by: Babs at July 12, 2008 03:47 PM

They are indeed blackberries. The fruit tastes good, but you'll regret it if you don't get them torn out of the ground now. They spread. If blackberries have a truth, it's "they spread'.

Posted by: Ed Flinn at July 12, 2008 04:32 PM

Blackberries. Not to snicker or anything, but how come you don't know what blackberries look like?

Anyway - wait until they're black and then pick them. Tip: when you pluck a berry, check that the bit where it was attached to the briar is white (should look like a little white circle). If it's discoloured, throw the berry away (my father told us this when we were kids gorging on the wild blackberries).

Posted by: Fuinseoig at July 12, 2008 07:59 PM

Do a tick check.

Trust me.

Posted by: GroovyVic at July 13, 2008 06:53 AM

You are kidding, right? Otherwise you must be a 100% city boy.

Those are raspberries (with maybee the odd blackberry), have them wild in the back corner of my yard. It is a fight to see whethere we get to harvest them and pour thick cream over same and eat (yum!) or if the birds get to them first.

Sadly, it is usually the critters that benefit, though when my kids were in the 4 to 7 age wincow they did give the wildlife a run for their money.

Posted by: Terrapod at July 13, 2008 06:55 AM

They're blackberries. It's true that they spread rapidly, but since they colonize disturbed land or areas on the margins of woods, they'll also tend to exhaust themselves over a period of several years as new species take over, without your having to do anything. Just enjoy the fruit--few things enhance a childhood like picking wild berries and making a cobbler with them.

Posted by: Khakidude at July 13, 2008 09:52 AM

Before I even read the post, I saw the picture and went, "Hey, blackberries!" Raspberries, indeed, Terrapod. Raspies are a matte finish, have a velvetiness to them, blackberries have that lustrous sheen. Here in Oregon, they're considered noxious weeds in many places because yes, Virginai, they DO spread. They're delicious. Blackberry jam (freezer jam is the best), syrup, frozen blackberries for use later in/on pancakes and waffles, syrup over ice cream, pies, but the best way to use them, if you get them a bit before they're ripe, while they're still firm, is cobbler. Mmmm.... cobbler... I don't know a northwesterner who didn't grow up with the stuff.

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at July 13, 2008 11:20 PM

Blackberries it is. I went out and sampled some after posting the pic. As for raspies, lawd knows I've got plenty of them as well, so I definitely know the difference.

And for those of you scratching your heads as to why I didn't know that alreay, remember that I grew up in South Texas where one simply didn't have this sort of thing growing about the place.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at July 14, 2008 07:46 AM

Easy cobbler: ready-made pie crust, laid flat on counter, rolled about 10" round. Mound a couple of pints of blackberries in the center. Dot with 2 T. butter and add sugar to taste. (Won't take much.) Draw up the edges of the crust and pinch together to seal. [Tricky part] Lift and flop the whole package sealed side down in an ovenproof dish with sides at least 1 1/2" high. Pour hot water around the mound about an inch high. Bake at 350 until the crust is gently brown. Serve forth with vanilla ice cream. Makes its own gravy...Yum.

Posted by: PnutQueen at July 14, 2008 10:43 AM

My favorite recipe for cobbler is beloved because it has memories attached -- My father made the most awesome baking powder biscuits, and we'd use that dough as the crust for the blackberries. We'd add a little bit of sugar, and a bit of cornstarch, just to prevent the juices of the berries from taking over completely.

The above recipe sounds easy and delish, too, but it brings up an interesting point. Where I grew up, cobblers don't have bottom crusts -- that's the point of a pie. A cobbler, at least in my family, was always like a dessert casserole -- fruiton the bottom, pastry on top.

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at July 14, 2008 10:57 AM

Robert wrote: "remember that I grew up in South Texas where one simply didn't have this sort of thing growing about the place."

Now Texas is a BIG state and all, but in the parts I live in, we have wild blackberries (sometimes called "dewberries") all over.

Posted by: Any A. Mouse at July 14, 2008 01:49 PM

I immediately thought "blackberries!" but then "no way 'cause Robert would have nailed that...must be something exotic". That's how much I respect your gardening prowess.

By the way, thanks for turning me on to "Hollytone"--it really perked up my evergreens this year.

Posted by: CJT at July 17, 2008 11:22 PM