I first espied this intriguing plant back in 2011 at Hampton Court and incorporated it into my front garden a couple of years later.
Now I’m a fan of a Rubus (Japanese wineberries, raspberries and blackberries), but planting this in my urban front garden has been a bit of a mistake. Yes, there have (eventually) been some pink pompoms (which originally attracted me to this plant), but it’s been a quick grower and, similarly to my Japanese wineberry, it starts rooting each time a tip of a cane hits the ground. In fact, it seems to be even more successful than my wineberry, flipping over, seemingly at will, and spreading itself all over the place. And it comes with some rather nasty thorns. What’s more, although decorative (up to a point), it doesn’t produce oodles of edible berries, so what was I thinking?
As space is tight in my front garden, I’ve called it time on Rubus ulmifolius Belliddiflorus and have spent a good few hours digging it up, untangling it from other plants (noticeably a wild rose and my Oregon Thornless blackberry) that it has artfully woven itself into, and yanking rooted canes out of a slightly crumbling wall.
Its purply/pink stems and pompoms are, indubitably, attractive features, but it’s definitely a case of right plant, wrong place and I shall have to wait until I get an extra acre or two before I start growing this beast again.
The other morning I watched a grounds maintenance crew as they attempted to cut back some Rubus cockburnianus (lovely white stems in winter, but also viciously thorny), cursing as they got scratched and caught up in their clippings. These plants are amazing, but like Rubus ulmifolius Bellidiflorus, best left to their own devices in a scrubbier bit of land where they can happily do their own thing.