Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blackberry Battle

Today was the first morning of real frost on the ground, after a few gorgeous days of clear skies. So I'm glad I took a "mental health" break yesterday afternoon, and went out to fight some blackberries.

The blackberries encroach from two sides of our property. From the very back, where the neighbour used to have their fence (which has since fallen down completely) set back 10 feet, clear of a right-of-way which straddles 10' on their property and 10' on ours. So there is a solid 10' section of blackberry bushes along their side of the fence which are constantly sending long prickly vines over and through the latticework of our cedar fence.

On the lower side, a good portion of our back yard is along the edge of a steep ravine which is full of blackberry bushes. So again, they are constantly sending long vines across. I could swear that in summer, they can grow up to one foot per day. If the end touches the ground, it quickly roots, and forms another blackberry plant from which to send up more vines. I try to make sure they don't get that far, but it is a never-ending battle.

Yesterday, it was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, so I took a "quick" break, to tackle the blackberries *behind* the fence, on my neighbour's side. I had asked their permission a while ago, and was just waiting for good weather and opportunity. At first I thought I was just going to clear the vines which were covering the bridal wreath spirea bush which we had planted just outside our property line (long before that neighbour bought their property), in order to stabilize and retain that edge of the ravine, which drops off like a cliff beyond it.

I ended up clearing not only the bush & around the bush, but also a 5' strip along our fence, about 25' long. Some spots there is barely enough room to stand, and hold the fence as I made my way across, cutting 2' sections of the vines, which were crossed layer upon layer, some so thick that I needed to use both hands on my clippers (which are pretty sharp, having bought a new pair this summer) to cut through. I lost track of time, but I think I was out there for an hour or maybe even an hour and a half.
After clearing the blackberry bushes
I wish I had stopped to take a few "before" photos, but I did take an "after" photo (see right). I don't think it really captures the amount of destruction I was able to accomplish, me in my bare arms (it really is safer that way, since the most damage can be inflicted when they get anchored in your clothes), and knitted rubberized-palm gloves. But as an indication, those 3 small plants in the foreground (bottom edge of the photo) were completely covered in vines, as was that spirea bush, and they extended over the fence, into my yard.

I like to muse that I may have cuts all over my arms and back of my hands from my battle with the blackberries, but in the end, I "won". I will be able to enjoy my victory all winter, being able to look out over the spirea bush and clear fence. But come Spring, I am sure they will launch another assault. When they do, I'll be ready again.

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