7 Sep 2020 - A True Story by Kevan Martin
‘Come on, Daddy!’ said Patience, pulling on her gumboots and picking up a wicker basket, ‘let’s go blackberrying.’ ‘’I’m coming, where do you want to go?’ ‘There are some lovely big bramble bushes down Hanborough Road, just near Dovehouse Close, and they are just full of blackberries waiting to be picked – hope the birds haven’t taken them all.’
So off they walked off cheerfully, hand-in-hand, but when they arrived, Patience’s face fell, her bottom lip trembled, and she almost burst into tears. Instead of the blackberry-laden bramble bushes she was expecting, she saw only devastation - every bush had been razed to the ground and removed, only a few squashed berries remained to show that bramble bushes had ever stood there. ‘Who did this, Daddy?’ ‘I suppose it must have been the Council’, said Daddy, ‘perhaps someone complained’ ‘Why would they - the brambles weren’t in the way, they were mostly against the wall – they weren’t even in anyone’s garden!’, Patience cried, ‘Besides brambles are good for much more than blackberries’. She knew this because she had been reading her Ladybird Book on Hedges.
As they trudged sadly back home with an empty basket, Patience explained that bramble flowers provided nectar for a host of butterflies like Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Small Coppers, Large Skippers, Silver-washed Fritillaries and Peacocks, not to mention a whole host of bumblebees, solitary bees, honeybees, and other pollinators. As they walked she recalled reading that the foliage of brambles provided food for the caterpillars of 35 species of moths with evocative names like Buff Arches, Bramble Shoot and Peach Blossom. Of course, Blackbirds, Whitethroats, Robins fed there and flocks of Tits and Goldcrests frequently searched through to feed on the many invertebrates that also live on bramble leaves and stems. Summer visitors like Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs used the bramble thickets to hide their tiny nests and small mammals like hedgehogs and mice sheltered under them. Patience gave a heartfelt sigh, ‘Where will they all go now? Why did they have to cut all the brambles down, why couldn’t they have just given them a trim and left food and homes for all these animals?’ She fell silent.
Noticing she was fighting back tears again, Daddy said comfortingly, ‘Mmm… I’m sure you know a lot more about the many good things that bramble bushes do for Nature than the people who cut them down. Perhaps we could plant a bramble bush in our garden to help replace the ones that have just been destroyed?’ This prospect gave her something to smile about again and she skipped on home to tell her Mum and friends all about the morning’s calamity and Daddy’s good solution.