Several weeks ago my daughter looked over the edge of the patio and said, “Daddy, look!
There’s Salmonberry growing RIGHT THERE! I can tell because the leaves make a butterfly!” The shrublet hugged the patio base; I hadn’t planted it there and had not noticed it emerge until suddenly it is two feet high, and indeed the first pair of leaves behind the leader form a perfectly symmetrical butterfly. Cool kid, mine.
I like Salmonberry well enough. There are some growing just beyond the wetland edge, part of the dense thickety hedgerow that forms the bog margin. There is more growing just down the road at the edge of the forest mixed in with what appears to be blackcap raspberry,a nicely accessible patch of naturally occurring deliciousness. Mixed with other plants in wild nature, Salmonberry and I are just fine. But after my daughter called my attention to them, I noticed them everywhere; last year must have been a good year for Salmonberry because the local birds ‘planted and fertilized’ plenty.
They are easier to see now, of course, because the bracken fern, crisp sandwort, and cleavers are gone. While I have plentiful quantities of deer, berries, and nuts, I’m not going to make pemmican anytime soon. Despite its positive qualities, including its free volunteeriness, Salmonberry brings its own set of woes which I don’t need, because 1) any bare soil I have wants to have moss on it and 2) moss wants bare soil and 3) Salmonberry wants to be a 20-f00t-high-and-wide caning and sprawling ‘shrub,’ and 4) I believe my clearing wants to be a clearing and you can’t have that with a hundred Salmonberry bushes…so on go the gloves. I am going to leave the one by the patio for the rest of the season, though, because sometimes you just need to pick the leaves off and make an imaginary butterfly forest fairy.