HELEN LANG: No honour amongst thieves, or berry pickers

This is a particularly lovely time of year. Many of the flowering trees are in full bloom.

This is a particularly lovely time of year. Many of the flowering trees are in full bloom, and Sidney can thank Bob Jackson for his talent in picking such glorious species to decorate Sidney’s streets.

Right under my condo window there is a pale pink prunus in full spring attire, and I can see both white flowering and  pink ones on several streets from my third floor windows.

I know, according to the calendar, spring doesn’t actually arrive until March 21, but they obviously hadn’t counted the Saanich Peninsula in their survey.

Our so-called winter is over (it never really arrived). Now all we need to guarantee that spring  is here is seeing a few robins hunting for worms (or fighting over pyracantha berries).

Talking about spring reminds me that the green shelling peas that are sitting on the kitchen counter (soaking) are likely to burst into bloom right there, if I don’t get them planted!

My problem is that all my large pots are already in use and I’ll have to move things out (whether they like it or not) to make room for new occupants.

I should have married a farmer with acres of raw land to cultivate.

Too late now!

I wonder if any of you are like my darling Jim in that you like the idea of picking wild things for dinner. It’s still a little early, I think, for either fiddleheads or nettles, but I have no care to do any research.

Wain Road and Tatlow Road were good spots for the nettles and the fiddle heads we used to get from a gully, home to a stream in Central Saanich.

My son will be over from Vancouver very soon and I’ll see if he is game to do a survey. I think he’d enjoy the whole idea (as would I).

I’ll let you know what we find, although it doesn’t make good sense to do so. I found that out many years ago, when we used to pick the real wild blackberries (not those big fat Himalayan blackberries that are so aggressive they take over your yard if they get a foothold).

The ones I mean are those comparatively small blackberries  that are usually found growing on burned-off wild land that has been logged off.

They are amazingly sweet, and make pies to die for!

You soon learn not to tell where your berry patch is, or next time you go out to pick, the berries are all gone.

You know almost certainly who gathered them, but it’s your own fault.

If you find a good patch, keep it a complete secret.

There is no honour amongst thieves (or amongst  berry pickers).

It’s much too early for blackberries in the wild … they are ready usually by late July.

The vines are wicked, so wear either boots or a suit of armour!

These berries make incredible pies, and if you pick a lot, they also make wonderful jam.

 

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

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