I’m pleased to report that, to coin a phrase, major combat operations in the HinesLand blackberry war ended today. Victory is ours! Well, mine, since my wife handles the mopping up and reconstruction duties, while I take care of the heavy duty combat.
My last dispatch from the War on Blackberries was November 2004. In that communiqué I said, “We will not rest until every last offshoot of the Himalayan Blackberry evil-doers has been brought to justice.” Indeed, we, by which I mean me, haven’t.
After the battlefield shifted to our newly-acquired five acres, as reported in “We buy some really expensive blackberries,” I sprayed the invasive terrorist vines repeatedly, advancing the liberated zone some twenty feet at a time—the distance my three-gallon sprayer would reach.
At times I despaired that the war ever would be won. The enemy was tenacious. And prickly. Blood was shed more than once, until I figured out how to pull vines out of tree branches without whacking myself in the nose.
Killing was the easiest part. Crushing the dead blackberry bodies into the earth was the toughest. I was committed to avoiding collateral damage. Sometimes innocent brush, Oregon grape, and ferns were found living in the midst of the evilgrowers. I carefully distinguished the good and the bad, the smooth and the thorny.
This afternoon, after a final two-hour climatic battle in a light rain, I stood at the top of a slope and surveyed the war zone. Every enemy combatant had fallen. Some had been alive when I hacked them off and would try to rise again. But while they could sprout, they couldn’t hide. Laurel or I soon will spray the shoots into oblivion.
It will take a while for the native population to return to the homeland that the despicable invasive Himalayan Blackberry has occupied for decades. In Oregon, though, rebirth naturally follows death. Rain and a mild climate will hasten the renovation of the blackberry-free fields. The dead vines will rot and desirable vegetation will rise.
In the lower part of the property I’ve been working on, a large Oak tree fell a few years ago. We let it lay, in part because at that time we didn’t own the lot on which most of the tree fell. But mostly because we believe in letting nature act naturally.
The dead wood eventually will return to the earth. As the Oak begins to decay, moss and ferns are thriving on it. Rural landowners who rush out with a chainsaw and chipper to tidy up fallen trees are missing out on a lot of mossy ferny beauty.
But I’ve got no problem at all with anyone who wants to make a blackberry thicket into a dead zone. There is no such thing as a good Himalayan Blackberry. They all deserve to die.
Except for those in a neighbor’s field come August when the sun is hot and the berries are ripe.