from The Weatherstaff PlantingPlanner – intelligent garden design software
It was a glorious autumn morning, the sun streaming low across the harvested field, the dog charging off to chase crows and investigate rabbit smells.
The dog is Marnie, our inquisitive, excitable, two year old Golden Retriever. One of the great advantages of working from home is being able to stride across the fields with her, before starting on the day’s work.
We clambered over a stile and into the next field. More accurately, I clambered over the stile. Marnie doesn’t do stiles. She adopts her bewildered “But you surely can’t expect me to jump over that?” expression, then goes off to scout out an alternative route.
The heavy rain of the previous night and the recently ploughed field were a potent indication of the changing seasons. Marnie, splashing happily in muddy puddles, thick clay clinging to her golden fur and a rakish smear of cow pat above her left eye, confirmed that the summer is over and the season of muddy dog has definitely arrived.
The blackberries were still glistening in the hedgerows, which dog and owner cheerfully devoured, but it was the beautiful, glaucous fruits of the blackthorn which caught my eye. Sloes! Enticing, blue-black drupes, with their powdery bloom, hanging there, murmuring “Pick me… Do something rural and interesting with me… You too can be a child of nature and creator of home-grown produce…”
Reader, I picked. As a responsible dog-owner, I carried a wide selection of serviceable plastic bags, perfect for transporting home the booty. Now all I need is a recipe for sloe gin…
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core…
Ode to Autumn – John Keats