Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blackberry Battle

I am at war with my garden, particularly the blackberries. I never would have expected my adrenaline to spike so much when pulling weeds, but when you are working on getting a huge blackberry bush out, it is war!

This is a before shot of our side yard - the blackberries are on the far left side of the photo:

For those of you that have never had to pull blackberry bushes out of the ground, this is how you should expect to feel during the process:

Yep. I’m hating the blackberries at the moment. And then Kyler snuck up on me.  This is me trying to smile despite my frustration (ha!):

Since no one has lived in this house (or pruned anything) in three years, the blackberry thorns, roots, and stems were huge. There were several knotty bunches of them tangled together, which had big long arms that sprawled everywhere, draped way over the bulkhead and twisted up into other poor nearby plants. This made it even more frustrating because when I would finally get in to prune just a single strand out, I couldn't just simply pull it out. They were long, tangled, prickly little buggers that stuck to everything - including me!
Overall, the best way to describe our garden is that it’s very …. old. In some good and not-so-good ways.  It’s full of roses, which are pretty, but not my fave. I think I would like them more if they were different colors, but they are more granny style with light pinks and light yellows. But, you know what, they’re flowers, and we don’t have much going on in the garden right now, so I pruned the heck out of them and we’ll see what happens next year. I have a feeling once we get some other colors and plants around them, it will feel less like a granny-garden, but we’ll see.
Another very old plant we have is a rosemary bush. Actually, more like a rosemary tree. Seriously. Most of it was prune-able with my hand shears or larger chomper shears. But, in other parts of the tree it's almost 2 inches thick, so we will still need to get into some spots and prune with a hand saw.  It is blooming like crazy right now with little purple and blue flowers, which I have to admit are pretty cute. To be honest, it's hard to get frustrated when you're pruning and it smells so dang good. This rosemary tree was another item in the garden I thought I would get rid of as soon as we moved in, but I think once we get some flowers in front of the it, the space will feel much softer and actually look kind of cool. I mean, how many people can say they have a rosemary tree?

This is a before photo of the rosemary tree - doesn't it look like it's going to gobble you up?

So we took all the stuff that I trimmed, pruned, or pulled out to the dump that same weekend. This was my first time to the dump, and it was nice because we were pretty much the only people there on a late afternoon. I felt like superwoman because I had pulled out all those weeds on my own! Kyle certainly helped haul everything from the yard to the truck (he was cleaning up and organizing the garage that day), but I was the one that did all that work in the yard that particular day. It was tiring, but it felt SO good!

Now that you know where we’re at so far, this is where we’re really going in terms of goals for our garden in the next year:
  • Weed my heart out
  • Then, fill some of that newly empty space with small trees or shrubs that will create a more intimate space for us since we’re so close to neighbors
  • Add more color using bulbs, ground cover and other flowers
  • Create a softer look that is less square. If you look at our house, garage, shape of the lawn and shape of the side yards, they are all rectangular or square in shape, and I want our garden to feel more cozy and organic (I'll show you some examples of what I mean in a future post)
  • Incorporate edibles throughout the garden (instead of in just one bed)
Once we get the yard cleaned up a bit more I'll be sure and post some "after" photos!


  1. Haha "granny-garden"... that just cracks me up! I despise blackberries, too. I chopped a bunch down on my property line (I forgot to do before-pics unfortunately) and ended up pulling thorns out of my fingers for the next week. I haven't done anything with the piles yet... they're still sitting there. I blame my lack of wheelbarrow, but really I just don't feel like getting stuck with thorns again!

  2. What, no "after" picture of all your hard work??

  3. i heart the deliciousness of blackberries, but they look like a biatch to get out! good work!

  4. Sarah- yes, still have some pricklies in my fingertips!

    John- coming soon!

    Liz- I also looove blackberries, especially in pie. Luckily part of our street is lined with blackberries for picking ;-)

  5. When I lived in Oregon, We literally had a PASTURE of blackberry bushes....it's bad, but the only way after cutting them every spring to get rid of them, was to create a controlled fire and kill them. They never came back after that. I know you are dealing with a more controlled and small area, however I feel your pain! Way to go Sara!

  6. With the rosemary in our garden it doesn't get much of a chance to grow as i clip a couple of six inch pieces and throw them in the BBQ every time we are grilling meat; just toss then under the grill one at a time when you turn the meat and it gives chicken, pork, and beef a woinderfull smokey rosemary flavor that is subtle and goes with most everything. the thicker stems can be used as skewers for kabobs (pre assemble one day in advance for the best flavor transfer)...

  7. Jess - I can imagine that if you had many more blackberries than we had, burning them would probably be a good way to go! As I was digging out the roots, I was thinking that I should have put a call out to my girlfriend who has some goats, so they could take care of it! :)

    David - What a great idea! I love it!! Kyle and I will have to give this a try next time we BBQ. Thanks for the tip!

  8. I don't suppose you were talking about MY goats were you.....?! ;o) Have you started a compost yet? We've got *plenty* of chicken poop for you to throw in there! Ick..... That's why I leave the outdoor stuff for James. Oh, grow some mint for your mojitos next summer!!

  9. Irina! Yes! I was referring to you :-) you are the only friend of mine cool enough to have goats and chickens!! Our yard isn't too big, but I am trying to still convince Kyle that we need a compost bin. And chickens. ;-)