Walking the dog yesterday I suddenly realised that there were leaves on the ground under the sycamore trees and that they were showing autumn colours.
Of course when I actually thought about the date, I realised that we have hurtled half way through September already and the autumn equinox is less than a week away (Wednesday 23rd). It’s crept up on me. I think that’s because I’ve been holding out for an Indian summer to start any time and yes, I’m still hoping.
In fact the signs of the onset of autumn are all around. Firstly, there are the cobwebs everywhere, showing up now that there is dew to paint them first thing and they are beautiful.
What I am not so keen on are the mega-webs being strung across ridiculously huge gaps between trees in the lanes and alleys that make early morning dog walks an exercise in continuous face wiping.
The hedgerows are full of potential foraging material.
Isn’t it annoying that blackberries are nearly always just out of reach, up too high or across water/nettle filled ditches.
Hawthorn berries are looking pretty juicy right now. My dog loves these and is always stopping for a quick snack on the ones down low.
They make an excellent sauce (nick-named ‘Haw-sin’ sauce by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall), which I tried out last year. However, pushing the pulp through a sieve was rather harder work than I’d hoped, so it may be a one off.
Elderberries are beginning to disappear now. They are loved by blackbirds, so if you are keen to make cordial or wine, you had better be quick to gather them in.
Since I have mentioned alcohol, I should also point out that the hops are turning colour now and the sloes are about ready for their conversion into sloe gin, ready to bottle for the festive season.
On the verges and field edges there are last flushes of flowers showing willing: Scabious, toadflax, knapweed and bladder campion. Here I found a patch with the bladders filled from the previous day’s rain. Their outsides have gone transparent and they were being lit up from behind by the low sun. It was a magical sight.
One of my favourite things about autumn are the sculptural forms that start to emerge. Here the teasel is standing tall, but unfortunately I scared off the goldfinches feasting on the seeds as I approached.
In fact, autumn may be my favourite season, so let it come!
Beautiful photos, especially of Sadie leaning in for a snack. Your birds and other wildlife seem to have lots to choose from.
It has been a good year for fruit in general, but the interesting thing will be how fast the hedges get cleared as the season progresses ….. and that often depends on the migrants from Scandinavian countries.
I didn’t know hawthornes were at all edible. I do love blackberries, though. Our elderberries were eaten by the birds weeks ago.
Just think of haws as little apples! No, don’t, in fact they’re too hard and bitter for the average person to eat straight off the trees, but they give a decent fruity flavour to hedgerow jellies. They are well known to be good for heart health in older dogs though.
I have been looking Hawthorns in the hedgerows here this week and noticing the differences in the leaves, berry formations and colours. I think we must have lots of hybrids here. I tried to make a jelly with Hawthorns last year, its a fiddly business!
Yes it is interesting, some of the berries (on specific trees) are twice the size of of others. What do you think they are crossing with though?
I think you really need a gadget to cope will the tedious labour involved in dealing with any volume of haws, maybe something like an apple press.
Midland Hawthorn and Common Hawthorn – This from the Wildlife Trusts page – “Common Hawthorn has shiny leaves, divided into three to seven pairs of lobes, and five-petalled, sweet-smelling flowers. It can be distinguished from the similar Midland Hawthorn by its more deeply lobed leaves and the fact that it only has a single seed in each fruit”.I have read somewhere that these two can cross and the resulting trees have further differences. I have a butterfly mind currently with all sorts of things to investigate!
Thanks for this, how interesting. I have not heard of Midland Hawthorn, so I will have to look into that.
A really enjoyable and well illustrated post, thank you. The teasels against the sky are so dramatic, too. I didn’t know dogs like hawthorn berries!
It came as a surprise to me too. I panicked at first but then looked it up when I got home and found out it was all fine. Sadie loves this time of the year, because she gets to eat damsons, sloes, hawthorn, blackberries and apples on her walks. I hardly have to feed her at home!
Lots of antioxidants too, then?
Exactly, hopefully she’ll live to a ripe old age
Paws crossed 😊. Must have a word with my two ….
This is certainly my favourite time of year here in Italy, Spring is wonderful for flowers but I know summer drought will follow soon after whereas autumn is like a second spring which may last until December so longer than the transient pleasure of true spring. Enjoy!
And here’s to it lasting till December!
It’s a great time of year but I too found myself hoping for an Indian summer but not much chance now. At least it’s damp enough to do a major re-jig of a border here over the next few weeks so not all bad..
Yes, sad isn’t it? However, the soil is good to dig and the courgettes are producing even more fruit. Shame then that I found blight on the tomatoes outside after yesterday’s downpour though