Raspberry Surprise

I have a bed at the base of the backyard silver maple that I call my “wild bed”. Whatever grows there is what grows there. The only exception is woody plants; any tree or shrub seedlings get  yanked as soon as I see them.

It wasn’t originally supposed to be a wild bed. When I smothered the grass I envisioned a bed full of daffodils and wildflowers. I planted 100 daffodil bulbs, and they have hung on but not flourished.

I tried planting wildflowers, but most of them just didn’t want to live at the base of a silver maple, with the exception of a clump of Solomon’s Plume (Smilacina racemosa). Also, despite the brick edging I installed (not too smart because of potential damage to tree roots), the grass kept creeping in, thriving in a way it never had before I tried to kill it. This shows you just how malicious grass can be.

Finally, I decided to turn defeat into victory by declaring the bed a wild or meadow bed. The results have been interesting. The daffodils declined somewhat in number. After a while, the dominant plants were Boltonia and some kind of tall goldenrod. I cut both back to keep them more compact. Along the edges some other flowers and grasses would volunteer, mainly Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) and Bottlebrush Grass (Hystrix patula). Tell the truth, it looked pretty good.

The Wild Flower Bed. Note containers and brick edging.

Then came the next devlopment: raspberries. Thanks to some visiting bird, raspberry canes started popping up in the wild bed. Last year and this they have yielded a growing number of really delicious black raspberries.

I intend to allow the raspberries to spread within the bed. The challenges are: 1) keeping them from spreading outside the bed, and 2) on a related note, keeping them from attacking passersby with their thorns. So far I’ve dealt with both problems by training the canes to 6′ stakes. Not exactly elegant, but the setting does n0t lend itself to the usual straight row of raspberry canes.

So, from failed shady flower bed to goldenrod mini-meadow to raspberry patch, my wild bed marches on!

2 Comments on “Raspberry Surprise”

  1. Jason, I have blackberries that pop up everywhere that they’re not actively discouraged. They haven’t yet gotten a foothold in any of the flower beds; fortunately, I think that soil is too refined for them. But they do threaten to totally surround some beds. I’ve learned the hard way not to just reach out and yank them whenever I see them; those brambles bite!!

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