susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Verbena Bonariensis

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While this photo was taken July 1 this year, this plant is flowering again.  These flower stems are very long – about 3 feet tall (1 meter), yet the flower heads themselves are quite small.  The one in the picture is 3 inches across, at most.  And each flower head is really many teeny-tiny florets.

I’ve only seen this flower in a public planting here in the Northwest US, one time, and it was more sparse than lush.  One reason might be that it grows as an annual here in Oregon, but can naturalize in tropical climes, as Hawaii.  But then you have to watch out, because it has become invasive some places.  I try not to plant anything that can become invasive in my area.  We are doing battle with enough unwanted plants, for example Himalayan blackberries (planted to control erosion) and English hawthorn (brought by early settlers for fence rows).

Wild Himalayan Blackberry

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Wild Himalayan Blackberry

I like this picture as you can see the developing berries as well as the delicate flowers. Not only the stems, but the leaves, and even the backs of the leaves, have a multitude of thorns. Anyone who has gone berry-picking quickly learns how to pick these delicacies without getting too bloody in the process.

Some berry-picking hints, gleaned from experience (the best teacher):
1 – Go early in the morning, so you can wear long pants and long sleeves without cooking yourself in the summer heat.
2 – Bring clippers to be able to cut a path to a desirable clump of berries.
3 – Have plenty of clean buckets for the picked berries. If you are picking berries to be cooked into pie or jelly, for example, as big as a 5-gallon bucket is fine. If you want to freeze or eat individual berries, a smaller size bucket is preferable, so as not to crush the bottom layers.
4 – Avoid berries on a roadside where they have accumulated car exhaust. Along a stream is a much better location for picking.

Although locals love these tasty berries, the plant is an invasive in the state of Oregon. It was brought here in the mid-1800’s to help prevent stream erosion, after the local beaver population was decimated. (Oh, the tales that history can tell…)

Do know that you are competing with the local wildlife population, including birds, deer and bears, for your juicy berries?