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Frank Lloyd Wright Landscaping, Farmers Market

Hunting, Gathering, Gardening

Today, in the process of researching newly developled blueberry varieties for parts of California with very mild winters and cool summers, I came across a link to a poem by Robert Frost on picking wild berries, specifically blueberries, in New England ("Blueberries", Robert Frost, from North of Boston, 1914). The link is

Frost gives us a picture of a rural area in which people, especially those with less income, collect wild berries to supplement their food supply. He also gets just right the coyness of a hunting or gathering person when asked about locations of treasured food sources. (Ever ask a fishing person to tell you how the fishing is going? Often it's something like: "Oh, it's OK, I guess. Could be better, maybe." End of discussion.)

And then Frost finishes with a paeon to the pleasures of picking berries, in his case, blueberries glistening in the rain. In my case, it has more often been blackberries shining in the sunshine with mockingbird song as accompaniment. But I recognized his description of wandering in the bushes, with birds nearby and the feeling of peaceful joy.

Furthermore, I often get the same kind of feeling while I'm harvesting from my garden. Even a 3 by 4 foot patch of red raspberries can do it, or a 4 foot long trellis of cucumbers. As I hunt for the fruits to pick, peering this way and that, I feel a kinship to all who have gathered. It is a feeling that goes deeply into the human psyche, that ties us to nature and lets us feel ourselves as a part of nature. This is one of the strongest reasons I know to garden.

Oh, and the result of my blueberry research is that the southern highbush variety 'Sunshine Blue' is a mighty good selection for coastal Bay Area gardeners. It requires only about 150 hours of winter chill (hours between freezing and 45 degrees F). A dwarf type, it grows to about 3 feet tall and is easier to grow in a pot than the ground. Plant 2 per person, locate where they will get sunshine and not too much wind, learn to prune them, restrict fruit for 1 to 3 years to allow the plant to get bigger first--then, mmmmm! Here is a link where you can learn directions for making a soil mix for blueberries and caring for them in a pot:


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