tart but sweet


I spent a couple of hours earlier this week getting shredded in the marionberry thicket in the back garden.

I have only one plant, growing against the northern fence behind the fig tree ‘St Dominique Violette’, but one is more than enough. It is intimidatingly vigorous, sending 6 meter long canes snaking through the garden bed under the fig and up into the branches of a small magnolia ‘Elizabeth’, smothering a couple of oak leaf hydrangeas en route. It needed to be subjugated.

Unlike that noxious weed the European blackberry, which grows as an impenetrable bush, the marionberry sends out a small number of (albeit) massively long canes each season, making it a bit easier to keep under control. The branches take root wherever they touch the ground however so the plant demands constant vigilance from the gardener during its growing period. Not a plant for a ‘low maintenance’ garden.

I wouldn’t be without my marionberry though, in spite of the scratches all over my arms. Those 6 meter long canes produce fruiting branches along their entire length so in early summer it is literally dripping with the most delicious fruit.


It is by far the most productive fruiting plant in our garden. We harvested several kilos of fruit before we went on holiday and left plenty for the birds too. Next year I’ll try to be well organised enough to make marionberry jam, which is delicious. The berries (in the photo above with some of our summer raspberries) are bigger, juicier and sweeter than European blackberries. Their balance of sweetness to tartness is perfect.