It all started with a malfunctioning clutch, a breakdown truck and a disused railway line. When my car was towed away out of sight, I decided to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine and walk home along the old railway line.
And that’s when I saw them – the blackthorn bushes either side of the track, dripping with sloes. Ripe and plump and ready to pick. A bumper harvest of blue-black, powdery drupes, just waiting there patiently, ready for their turn in the gin-bottling limelight.
The next day, I was back and ready for a spot of foraging. Rule number 1 for foraging: make sure you know what you are picking! Rule number 2 – leave behind enough for wildlife and...
Misty mornings and the leaves are ochre and gold. There’s a nip in the air and the hedges are dripping with berries. Time for a spot of autumn foraging! Here are 4 vitamin-packed fruits to collect in autumn.
Elderberries ripen in late summer or early autumn. Pick the berries when they are fully ripe. You want them to look almost black, so if they are still green or burgundy, wait a little longer. Use a pair of scissors to snip the cluster of berries away.
Be certain you know what you are looking for as there are some poisonous lookalikes. If you need help to identify the elder tree, the Woodland Trust has some useful advice here.
The trees are looking spectacular at the moment and it’s hard to resist taking yet another photograph of the glowing colours at canopy level. But down on the ground, there are some hardy perennials which are still flowering their socks off!
Here’s my choice for the best 5 perennials for autumn colour.
These are stunning perennials with daisy-like flowers on an upright, clump-forming plant. They flower profusely from mid-summer into the autumn.
Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ has glorious autumnal colours – fiery orange-red rays surrounding a velvety brown central disc. The rays reflex strongly as the flowers age. It has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
‘Pipsqueak’ has yellow rays surrounding a velvety yellow and...
Last night, as dusk was falling, I took the dog for a walk across the fields. The intense heat of the day had mellowed to balmy warmth, a gentle breeze drifting across from the estuary.
The scorching Indian summer is confusing the seasons. It feels like a glorious day in the heat of summer, yet the fields are harvested, the leaves are turning and the hedges dripping with dusky sloes and jewel-like blackberries. My two columnar pear trees, Beurré Hardy and Doyenné du Comice, are heavy with fruit. The step-over is keeping the family supplied with crisp, yellow-red Falstaff apples.
It’s tempting to head off to the seaside to take advantage of this late offering of sunshine. Or pull out...
I wouldn’t go so far as to report a glut of pears. What we have is one of those vertical, column-trained trees, carrying fruit along its single upright stem. Actually, we have two of these – one Beurré Hardy and one Doyenné du Comice – planted over half a decade ago and spectacularly failing to keep us supplied with pears – until...
The collected sloes lay like shiny glass beads in the colander, I had staggered back from the supermarket with an armful of gin bottles (“Couldn’t you just mention they’re for sloes?” muttered my embarrassed daughter) and amassed my kilner jars. I was all ready for a bottling session.
There’s something very therapeutic about being creative in the kitchen. I felt like a Victorian pharmacist, lovingly creating my recipes and remedies. Or perhaps an old wise woman. (Though not so very wise – having removed the metal bands from my jars, it took me quite a long time to reassemble them. Not so old either…)
The recipes I’d gathered were reassuringly varied. There were...