Friday, July 27, 2012

Forest Berries and Fairy Folk

Nesting season is over and the forest is suddenly very quiet.
Where once the air was filled with bird song, now it is eerily quiet.
I walk through the woods listening.
But you can hear a pin drop.

A curious thing happens with the Stellar Jays.
All the adults leave.
Only this year's nestlings remain. They clumsily fly from branch to branch, staying close to one another for company.
I am worried about them.
I saw a Cooper's Hawk down the road the other day, a lightning swift bird predator.
But so far, he hasn't discovered my little flock.

There are about 20 of them this year.
All the adults come back in September.
Maybe they leave to escape the begging!

But there is plenty to eat here in our little forest.
All the wild berries are starting to ripen.

The dusty blue berries of the Oregon Grape,

And bright red Thimble Berries.

Can you see how they got their name?

These are very pretty, but rather bland and dry.

Robins especially love these.

The blackberries are just now flowering. In the shade the flowers are lavender. But in the sun, they are white!
They carpet the ground along the side of my driveway, sharing their beauty and bounty with us and those that are wild.
I can't wait to bake Blackberry Cobbler!

These are the same type with white flowers. They are called Himalayan Blackberries. They grow everywhere and are very invasive.

This is another variety called Evergreen Blackberries. These are not as invasive, but their thorns are vicious. I love this type. They are sweeter and firmer than the Himalayans and I have 'cultivated' these along a trellis.

Both types can send out long runners up to 20 feet long.

Then there are the wild raspberries. These I reserve for myself! Years ago I discovered this variety growing along the edge of the forest. They have lovely pale bluish-green stems.

In the only reference to them in my research they were called 'Ghost Brambles'.

This is another wild berry that I 'cultivate'. I transplant them along fencing and Hubby has put up a trellis for me, also.

Every day I harvest whatever is ripe and freeze them until I have enough to add to yogurt, icecream, or scones.

They are the most delicious of all the wild berries.

Believe it or not, even Whitey loves these and eats them right off the vine!

They are mild and very sweet.

Of course, not all the berries are fit to eat! These delicate little flowers will soon turn into the bright red jewels of Nightshade, a poisonous berry.

But most berries in the forest are edible, including these lovely little huckleberries.

Delightful little snacks for forest dwellers large and small.

And quite possibly a few fairy folk, too!


  1. What absolutely gorgeous photos - the detail of those berries, and the blue of the Stellar Jay! This post contained two odd coincidences for me. Today I was reading a book (The Magic Apple Tree by Susan Hill) where she points out that the woods in July are seemingly devoid of life. This was something I'd never thought of before - and here you are making the same point. Also, my mother mentioned "Himalayan Blackberries" to me a few days ago and it was the first I'd ever heard of them. Thank you for providing a photo for me!

    My grandparents would have known and understood all the bounty of the forest, having grown up in the forests of Northern California. Thank you for sharing all these things with me. Blackberry cobbler, yum!

  2. Good afternoon Karen,
    Wow, what a beautiful bird. As for the parents leaving, I am reminded of taking leave of our daughter's house in NJ last year for the three hour drive back to MD. She was sitting on the couch with a three year old on one knee and a 3 month old on the other, both of whom were positively wailing. Tweet-tweet see you in September...LOL!

  3. Cute to see your dog eating the berries! I have not seen my own dogs do this!

  4. I love your forest! With the beautiful hardwoods, it is so different from the tree farm here. There are thousands of blackberry bushes here but, no doubt, the bears will beat me to them! The blackberries bushes in the pasture the goats will eat. Loved the pics of the birds too. I did not know the adults left for the summer...maybe it's a vacation?! ;-)

  5. Dearest Karen,

    Love those thimble berries; first time I see them.
    Also the stellar jay is remarkable.
    Enjoy all your berries and have a great summer weekend.
    Love to you,

  6. The blue jay is stunning. The colours we find in nature are incredible.

  7. Y'all are so lucky up there in Washington! Blackberries (my favorite) come to fruition in May in Louisiana - long over. Blueberries flourish in July, but still...I prefer blackberries. I'd love to taste some of your blackberry cobbler right about now. :)

  8. Other than telling you that I am now craving berries
    (and I've eaten all I had for this week),
    I will say that this is a great biology lesson.

  9. How very beautiful your forest is! And there is still fruit to enjoy? All the wild berries disappear here - I'm lucky to try just one. :)

  10. Karen, you take the best pictures! Before my Grandmother got sick, she and my Grandfather had a home down in Newport on the Oregon Coast. In the early mornings she and I would take a walk around her home. She'd stop and chat with all the neighbors and in between teaching me all about the berries, plants and flowers of the land. It was a special time that I cherish. Your pictures take me back to that place with my Grandmother and our morning walks. Thank you!

  11. Hi Karen,

    I really enjoyed my tour of your woodland area. It looks so peaceful there and I can just hear the birds singing in the spring. How lucky to have such wonderful fresh berries! Your snapshot of the Blue Jay is stunning! I don't seem to have much luck with the birds posing for me.

  12. I love berries of all kinds! My favorites are strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Sometimes I go to a local farm and pick my own. Wonderful photos. The blue jay is gorgeous! :)


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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