Autumn raspberries sound great: Easy to maintain, don’t need staking, often thornless and what could be bad about a few extra months of raspberries? Whilst I wouldn’t go as far as saying there’s anything bad about more raspberries, honestly, who is really interested in raspberries in October?
The first flush of raspberries in early summer are a delight; a long-awaited treat and probably my favourite fruit fruit. Hunting for raspberries in our garden with the children and eating the fruit as we find them captures that perfect summer moment; something special to be anticipated through dreary winter days.
Then, as the raspberries begin to crop heavily, we eat bowls and bowls of them with ice cream (actually, with almost anything) – outside in the sunshine. It’s a lovely summer thing to do.
And then finally, when we have all gorged on raspberries until we are perhaps getting a little bored with them, there is always raspberry jam.
By this point in the gardening year I am feeling it would be better to hang up my raspberry hat and move on to a new excitement – maybe the first apples of the season, a blackcurrant or (wondrously) a ripe peach… But then, hello, the autumn raspberry season kicks in and here we are with some more raspberries. Which of course is very nice, but do we really want them?
The catalogue descriptions mention that many continue until the first frosts. Imagine a bowl of raspberries in October: dew drops hanging from the spider webs, mist in the cool mornings and elsewhere in the garden mushrooms, damsons and chestnuts. I am indifferent.
So why am I growing them? I have several reasons, the first of which is that unlike summer raspberries (which fruit on last year’s canes), autumn raspberries are primocane, meaning they fruit on the current year’s growth. This also means that, with a bit of cunning pruning it is possible to induce them to crop twice in one year, the first crop ironically being an extra early – and therefore extra exciting – one (to do this, the top bits of each cane should be trimmed off after fruiting and the rest of the cane left to overwinter).
My second reason is again to do with their primocane nature. I enjoy picking raspberries, but I recently realised that it is an experience which could be improved upon when I happened to see a TV clip of Raymond Blanc strolling around a woodland, picking wild raspberries in France. The birds were singing as he wandered between wild flowers and ferns in the dappled sunshine, collecting his fruit. Now that, I thought to myself, is a tip top fruit-gathering experience! So my plan is to plant some of the autumn raspberries in a grove of trees and then cut the canes and any surrounding growth down at the end of each year (as one usually would with autumn raspberries). There will also be flowers, including some vigorous roses which wont mind the same annual chopping treatment. Whilst I would prefer to recreate this scene with summer raspberries I think the management involved in cutting out only some of the canes would be too time consuming.
My last reason is that, despite everything I’ve said, it’s hard to believe that More Raspberries could ever really be a bad thing.