These are the boysenberries that I picked at my Uncle Butch’s house this afternoon. Aren’t they pretty? They taste fabulous. Tomorrow they will be jam!
Have you ever had boysenberries? Do you know about them? They are a cross between a raspberry and a Pacific blackberry.
My Uncle Butch is my Mom’s only sibling. He lives a little SW of us on a lovely 2 acre piece of land. When I think of Butch – I can’t help but smile. He is an awesome man of God, marked by a sweet, gentle, and humble spirit. He was such an encouragement to me when my Grandma and Mom were going through their successive final illnesses and deaths.
When he called the other day and said that Boysenberries were ripe and I could come and pick them if I’d like, I put it on the calendar. Part of every summer for me is the countdown until the berries are ripe and I can start making jams, jellies, and syrups. (Well, and just eating berries, too!)
After days and days of chilly weather, I was thrilled that the forecast for today was 90 degrees. There is really – honestly – nothing better than berry picking on a good hot day!
Butch was kind enough to help me pick. As we were working I said, “Boysenberries, right?”
“Yep.” He confirmed. “Mom brought these canes up from the house in Burbank.” My Grandmother had moved from the Los Angeles area to live with my parents about 20 years ago – and many plants were transplanted, had cuttings made from them, or had seed harvested to bring with her. Some of the things were planted at my Mom’s house, others at Butch’s.
“Wow!” I said.
“Yeah,” he continued, “in fact Mom got the cuttings from my Grandfather White – he and Grandma lived in El Monte. She got the cuttings from Grandfather shortly after she and Dad married in 1936.”
“WOW!” I exclaimed.
“So these are the genuine old fashioned article. Never been sprayed or messed with – I guess you’d call them the real organic thing!”
How cool is that?
But more amazing is this – from Wikipedia:
In the late 1930s, George M. Darrow of the USDA began tracking down reports of a large, reddish-purple berry that had been grown on the northern California farm of a man named Rudolph Boysen. Darrow enlisted the help of Walter Knott, a Southern California farmer who was known as a berry expert. Knott hadn’t heard of the new berry, but he agreed to help Darrow in his search for the berry.
Darrow and Knott learned that Boysen had abandoned his growing experiments several years earlier and sold his farm. Undaunted by this news, Darrow and Knott headed out to Boysen’s old farm, on which they found several frail vines surviving in a field choked with weeds. They transplanted the vines to Knott’s farm in Buena Park, California, where he nurtured them back to fruit-bearing health. Walter Knott was the first to commercially cultivate the berry in southern California. He began selling the berries at his farm stand in 1935 and soon noticed that people kept returning to buy the large tasty berries. When asked what they were called, Knott said, “Boysenberries,” after their originator. His family’s small restaurant and pie business eventually grew into Knott’s Berry Farm. As the berry’s popularity grew, Mrs. Knott began making preserves which ultimately made Knott’s Berry Farm famous.
Apparently – shortly after the time my Grammy and Grandpa married, my Great-Grandfather must have met up with Mr. Knott and his new berries – and procured a cutting or transplant to grow on his own property. I’ve heard stories my whole life about the amazing garden that my great-grandparents grew – and the memorable meals that friends and family from near and far traveled to be a part of.
Isn’t history amazing?