The Blackberries have started to swell in the hedgerows. Hopefully we will get some sunny days to help them along. The picking of Blackberries is one of my cherished childhood memories. My Mother would turn them into jam to keep us supplied through the Winter. Today it is a tradition I still follow. Foraging is second nature and something I get deep satisfaction from.
Blackberry and Apple jam is delicious and the apples provide the pectin the Blackberries lack. Mixed with Elderberry, another free fruit, they make a great chutney. Then of course there’s cordial, great for Winter colds or just as a nice drink, full of vitamin C.
The sloe is also filling out, this bitter fruit is the ancestor of all cultivated and wild plums. So bitter is it that one could possibly wonder what use it would have. It however, has several uses when ripe. Usually picked after first frosts, which softens the by then black skins, sloes make a lovely claret coloured jelly, a very fine wine and added with sugar to gin or vodka make a very nice liquer.
The Hogweed, alas, has no value to the forager, being inedible. It is however a useful plant for wildlife. The large heads are made up of hundreds of small flowers which attract Bees, Soldier Beetles and Hoverflies. Spiders spin their webs between the stems hoping to trap a Bluebottle or other insect to dine on.
The variety of wild grasses on the lane never ceases to amaze. They are at their best right now having reached their full height and developed seedheads.
This one lit up by the setting sun is gorgeous and to my eyes fit to grace any garden. I’m sure all these grasses have individual names but I don’t know them. I am happy, on my daily walks, to admire their variety and beauty.