[Tweeters] Blackberry Use

Allyn Weaks allyn. at tardigrade.net
Wed Sep 7 23:09:34 PDT 2005

On 7/9/2005, MaryK wrote:

>I've actually been thinking about planting some more blackberries in my

>back yard as a sort of "natural fence." Many people have told me I'm crazy,

>they take off like crazy, you'll never get rid of them, etc. etc. etc.

>But the

>birds like them, so what the hey.

There's a problem with this: some birds do like them. Birds eat the
berries, then carry the seeds miles away, into parks and forests,
spreading the infection and degrading previously good
habitat--invasives often replace the natural community of plants with a
near-sterile monoculture that can even stifle succession. Non-native
blackberries are one of many species that cannot be contained to your
yard because birds will carry the seeds far and wide. Other nasties
with a similar distribution mechanism are holly, ivy, cherry &
portuguese laurels.

If you want a prickly and birdy fence, why not try our native hawthorn,
Crataegus douglasii? Birds like them much better than blackberry. For
one thing, the hawthorns attract aphids and leaf rollers, which attract
birds. You'll get birds all year 'round instead of only during berry
season, and a much wider variety, too. In general, if you want birds,
plant to please bugs. More species of birds need insects than need
fruit, especially while raising young.

Hawthorns can be laid and maintained in a british style hedge/fence, or
topped when they get near the height you want and kept pruned, or
allowed to develop into a thicket of small trees. To increase
impenetrability, you can mix in some tall oregon grape, Mahonia
nervosa. Depending on how much space you have, mix in other native
shrubs/small trees such as bitter cherry, wild rose, serviceberry, mock
orange, evergreen huckleberry, beaked hazel--we have so many great
shrubs around here! For more bug oomph, go mostly deciduous;
evergreens invest in more pesticides to protect their long-lived leaves.

If you want help in finding out more about how to plant, where to buy
native plants, and which birdy plants would do best in your situation
(water and sun can matter in species choice), hop on over to the
pnw-natives list. Lots of good people there to help. It's been kind
of quiet lately--time to wake 'em all up from the yearly estivation :-).

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Allyn Weaks allyn at tardigrade.net Seattle, WA Sunset zone 5
Pacific NW Native Wildlife Gardening: http://www.tardigrade.org/natives/
"A proud member of the Reality-Based Community"

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