“Ugh! You have raspberries!” is one thing I can always count on my mother to say when she visits my house. As I’ve let our once-manicured flower gardens turn into ever-blossoming pollinator gardens, there will always be raspberries that pop up unannounced. “But you don’t even have any in your yard! How did they get here?!” she’ll say, maniacally searching for the next sprout of raspberries in the garden. Of course, she won’t pull or trim them to help a girl out, she’ll just make sure to point them out and let me know about the raspberry chaos that will ensue if I don’t, as mothers do.
My mother has what I call raspberry PTSD. Her yard is completely lined with them, and before my little brother had a playground, it was a patch of raspberries. When she doesn’t keep her front yard kept up, it too becomes raspberries. As a kid, I thought it was great, raspberries for days! But not my mom, they make her skin crawl. And when she sees a sprout in my yard (thanks birds!) she lets me know.
That’s probably why my gut instinct when reading The Raspberry-Life Question by Wilma Faeber, was “but why would anyone plant raspberries in the garden?” After all, I’ve been told my whole life how to recognize the leaves, the branches, and to exterminate them upon arrival. But no, in Faeber’s story about inheriting raspberry bushes from her grandmother, she doesn’t just keep the bushes, she explores the best way to plant them. Wait, you can plant them in rows? In lines? And everyone survived?
I’ll have to tell my mother about this one, she’ll never believe it. Planting raspberries in the garden on purpose?! Ha!
For Those Who Actually Appreciate Raspberries in the Garden
This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that inject the joy of gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!
The Raspberry-Life Question
By Wilma Faerber of David, IL
My favorite member of my husband’s family was his grandmother, Marjorie Faerber. She was an adorable petite grandmother type with short curly gray hair and the spunk of an 18-year-old. She had a backyard of red raspberry bushes that she meticulously cared for and the entire family cherished.
One day Grandma got it into her head that I should continue her raspberry tradition. So we gathered shovels, gloves, and buckets and set to work. I became a raspberry afficionado in no time.
I grow my raspberries in a square about as wide as my reach. I pick around the square. When I complete the square I’m done. Grandma’s patch was almost like a maze. You started around the outside and wove your way in, picking until you reached its end. Then you turned and picked your way back out the other side.
My own father’s raspberries grew in a long single row that he kept in strict order. You picked down one side and up the other.
I recently realized that, for each of us, our raspberry patch has been a reflection of our outlook on life. My father lives life on the straight and narrow, and that is his approach to growing raspberries. Grandma approached her patch with an open mind and allowed her raspberries to meander. That was the way she lived, dealing with obstacles as they came. Me, I don’t take many chances. I stay pretty much close to home and enjoy what is within easy reach.
Which method is best? Who’s to say? They all seem to work. ❖
By Wilma Faerber of David, IL, published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #114. Illustrations by Linda Cook Devona.
Do you plant raspberries in the garden? Or are they better left to the landscape? How do you keep them under control?
Yes, I planted raspberries in the garden. It’s a small bed I totally restructured within a couple years when we bought this house twelve years ago. In addition to a row of lavender along the public sidewalk, I planted some ever-blooming day lilies, a few salvia, ice plant for a ground over, a rhubarb plant, and three raspberries of a thornless variety that was said to “maintain its round shape,” which I took to mean it didn’t sucker. Ha!! I try, but I do NOT “keep them under control.” In fact just yesterday when I was weeding the bed, I decided – because of the raspberry suckers and the bindweed (that I thought I’d eradicated ten years ago and hadn’t seen since but that has exploded this year) next spring I need to dig up a good portion of the bed to refurbish it.