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!