Saturday, 21 July 2012

Beauty and the Beast

A bee on my dahlia flower this morning
Pyracantha will be familiar to some gardeners; it's a shrub which has beautiful cream or white flowers in spring and lovely berries for the birds in winter. The berries come in a number of colours, but predominantly cream, orange and red. Blackbirds and pigeons love the berries, especially in late winter when there's nothing much left.  This year's tiny young berries are here already. 

Pyracantha - before pruning
However as with much that is beautiful in the garden, there is a dark side to this hardy bush. 

Pyracantha - after pruning
This evergreen shrub, its common name 'firethorn' as the name suggests has thorns. If you want an effective barrier or to deter potential trespassers, then pyracantha is for you. The young thorns on new green growth are fairly soft, but wait a few months and those thorns on hard wood can grow up to about two inches in length and are like needles. They are truly awful. I cut mine back today because it was getting out of hand and it is advisable on this scale of job to use electric shears or large hand shears rather than small secateurs and without doubt gardening gloves. But beware, gloves are probably still not thick enough to prevent your hand being skewered so pick up cut branches gently and dispose of rather than compost.

'Akantha' - thorn
Although bitter, apparently pyracantha berries can be made into a very nice jelly, but I don't think the birds would be too happy. A member of the apple family, the name pyracantha apparently is first seen in the 1660s and is a mix of Greek pyr - fire and akantha - thorn.

My first water lily of the season
You may recall that I've talked about nothing much else but the weather this year, i.e., the rain, but the summer has finally arrived with some fine weather, blue skies and sun. It's hot. I read Donna's blog who comes from central Illinois and they are in a very bad drought, so I hope some of the rain we've had can find its way over there for her. The power of thought probably brought us rain so lets wish rain for Donna and her community.

We're having some building work done soon to convert a garage to a bedroom and a morning room to another bedroom which will give our children who are still at home larger bedrooms rather than the cramped ones they have at the moment so the house will be in a bit of a state in the next few weeks. The trick is to empty the garage which tends to be a junk room (it's never seen a car in the fifteen years we've been here.) Wish me luck!

Chat soon



  1. Interesting that you can eat jelly made of pyracantha berries - not that I ever would because I do love to see the blackbirds on them in the late winter - and before that they look so lovely throughout the winter months.
    Good luck with all the alterations.

  2. The local community constable recommended pyracantha as a security barrier too. I just might so I could preform my fiendish alchemy in the kitchen.

    I get completely about a good clear out. My lass is just a girl who can't say no. When she asks "What do you want me to do with this?" I just shout Skip!. So much so, the neighbors have graciously afforded her the temporary nick-name 'Skippy'.

    If my elder two in their twenties, as much as I love them, ever wanted to come home, they'd be met with a rather long and pointed sharp stick. Pyracantha suddenly looks very useful :)

  3. Hi Weaver
    Pyracantha berries are such a picture. Thanks, I need all th eluck I can get.

    Hi Wheelie
    Sounds like Pyracantha is EXACTLY what you need - multi-tasker!

  4. Oh, my! Those mini, dagger like thorns really do look as though they mean business!! GOOD LUCK with the conversion!

  5. Hi Helena
    I have the scratches to prove it!! Thanks for the good wishes

  6. Good Luck with all your changes. I have one of those bushes in my front garden and the birds love to hide in it from the cats.

  7. Hi Paula
    Thanks for popping in. I had a pair of blackbirds nesting in it for a couple of years and the thorns must have kept my cats at bay because they were very successful