I’ve recently had the pleasure of spending hours trimming back blackberry, rose and black hawthorn bushes while staying at a farm in rural France, and I wanted to share my knowledge with you.
The initial planting of the blackberry bush can be relaxing and cathartic. Getting the soil ready, getting your hands dirty, lovingly preparing the home for the blackberry bush, with your hopes for a prosperous future. Turn away and let go of your body and mind as the little seedling takes on a life of it’s own, feel peace knowing you don’t have to do much to cultivate him.
2) Anger Management
One day when you’ve had the shits at work or someone does something unspeakable to you, you will turn to your loving blackberry bush and realise that he has taken over the fence line and is strangling nearby plants, and you will thank the heavens for planting this blessing in disguise as you take all that anger and retreat into it’s thorny arms and hack at it. Chop back that blackberry bush like you’re attacking the true root of your anger problems. Release it into the wild.
3) Testing your Pain Threshold
As you attack and the anger reaches its peak you will indubitably become reckless and the thorny arms will try to grip you in a loving hug to calm you down. Indeed you will be stuck in place as the thorns claw at every shred of clothing you own until you are naked and your skin is pierced to the point you’re not sure where you are bleeding from. In these moments you will find out what you’re made of. Strength, patience, high pain tolerance…most likely flesh and blood, but we’ll see. P.S attempting to run or thrash your way out usually ends quite badly.
4) Developing Patience
As previously mentioned you will of course require patience to extract the thorns from your skin, but you will also require it for those moments between snipping with rage at a thick stub before realising this is futile and swapping to the secateurs like the smart chicken you are.
5) Bingo-Wing Workout
Those shiny sharp shearers look like allies to begin with, but after an hour or so of vicious pruning, you can really feel the burn of your bingo wings – if you didn’t already notice them flapping with each and every snip you will know they are there by the end.
6) Culinary Skill Development
The fruits of your labour are a shade of purple so dark they live up to their name, they are plump, juicy and sweet (well the good ones in the batch) and they will taste great in a number of ways. Try your hand at blackberry muffins, make some blackberry coulis to accompany your blackberry pancakes, or smother them in blackberry jam. Whip up some crispy skin duck with blackberry glaze then delight in blackberry and apple crumble. Or eat them the way they are as that’s all a bit too much effort after trimming that bloody bush. That’s if there’s any left after all that rage.
7) Warming the soul…with alcohol
Once your arms are fatigued, your anger dissipated, your belly full, your stab wounds tended to with antiseptic lotion, prop your feet up and indulge in a stiff glass of blackberry brandy (that you intelligently made yourself 12 months ago and left to age, you clever duck), and feel everything just drift away in a purple haze of deliciousness.
As you can see, the blackberry bush is a truly versatile plant. Its uses are incomparable to many other plants and it’s my firm belief that every backyard should have one.
Happy Pruning! x
Disclaimer: Ali Elle is not a professional and may have been under the influence of blackberry brandy and antiseptic lotion overdose at the time of writing. Before indulging in blackberry bush purchasing or pruning please seek professional advice, as Ali Elle can not be held responsible for any thorn attacks or crap-tasting berries that can, and will, come from this.