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Rubus Cockburnianus - January 20th  

Arching - sometimes tangled stems on this rampant Rubus - blackberry. The purple flower appear in midsummer, but it is the white stems in the winter which are the main attraction.

Rubus cockburnianus can be grown wherever there is room - sun or part shade. Full sun shows off the stems best. It will need a space of around 2m across - with a similar height. Any soil will suit, but well drained soils are best for all the Rubus.

Pruning for good stem colour is best carried out in early spring. Simply cut back the whole mass of stems to ground level. It will soon send up new growth which will turn  into the white 'canes' so desirable in the winter.

Because it is the stem colour that is the main feature, care should be taken when positioning. No point in hiding the stems in the all important winter!

White shrub stems in mid winter - Rubus cockburnianusWhite stems in winter on this Rubus shrub

I have seen this shrub in both shade and sunny positions. Certainly the winter sun can brighten up the appearance. But then again - with the vivid white stems in a shaded place, it it really a matter of where you have space for this shrub - which can be a little invasive! It spreads by sending up added shoots from the base area.

Whatever space you allow, this Rubus will fill it - but it can be controlled with an annual pruning session. Well worth the little extra work

Almost forgot to mention that this Rubus has small purple flowers - in clusters at end of arching stems in summer. Nothing to write home about - but an added attraction!

Propagation of Rubus cockburnianus is easy - You can either cut off one of the rooted stems from the base area, or try hardwood cuttings from early winter. Softwood cuttings will root well, but care will need to be taken in the period from cutting through to rooting. Harwood cutting easy - stick them in the ground and forget them until the spring!

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