May 30, 2011

A briar engagement

The sunny, dry spring has brought the brambles into bloom – far earlier than in previous years. All over the city, in parks, gardens and on waste ground, dense bramble thickets with their arching, thorny stems are studded all over with dirty pink flowers. 

It's great news for pollinating insects, including honey bees, like the one pictured here, but also bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and lacewings. Brambles also support buff arches, peach blossom and fox moths, all of which lay their eggs on it, and many birds and small mammals nest in its protective tangles.

Later in the year birds will eat the blackberries, including blackbirds, thrushes, robins, magpies, crows, wrens and finches, as will mice, voles and even foxes. I'll be there, too, collecting wild, organic blackberries for my freezer. And if I get enough I'll eat apple and blackberry crumble all winter long.