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The Mulberry: Good Things Come To Those Who Wait?

Our Medlar trees aren't quite the most eccentric plant in our forest garden. They're beaten into second place by the Mulberry bush.

It was seemingly aeons ago that a local customer complained his plant had been delivered as a bush rather than a tree. We took in the orphan. Over the years we've learnt not to be driven mad by its habit of bursting into leaf a month after everything else. Customers can't believe their mulberries aren't dead, until they coyly sprout leaves in unexpected places. Then there's vigorous twiggy growth which promptly dies back the following year, leaving a random muddle to remove. The limbs that do persist form an untidy puzzle.

I reckon our bush must be around 20 now, and every year I scan it for fruit at this time of year, with little sense of expectation. I can't even remember whether it's a Black or a White mulberry - Morus alba, I think - looking at the leaves.

Which - out of earshot of it - is slightly disappointing. I don't want silkworms but I do want mulberry jam, and white mulberries are usually pretty bland. I say "usually", as I have my hopes pinned our our having - quite by chance - an amazingly tasty cultivar.    

Mulberries are as notoriously shy to fruit as they are to come into leaf, but even so I was beginning to give up. There are, I discover, fruitless white mulberry varieties. But today, joy of joy, the first signs of fruit have appeared. I'm sure the birds will have them, or the bush will succumb to some terrible canker or be struck by lightning, but for the time being I dare to hope.