Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Autumn's Riches

Autumn seems to have arrived very early this year,the woods have that lovely early morning earthy smell and the equinoxial gales are certainly with us at the moment. The woodland floor already has a scattering of fallen leaves and there is a slight chill in the air as I take B Baggins for his walk first thing. Most of the photographs in this post were taken in Lancashire towards the end of August as I walked Mr Dog along the Wyre estuary. Above are rowan berries, rich and opulent in the sunlight. Mixed with crab apples they make an attractive but tart jelly which can be served with game or lamb.

I was struck by the sheer abundance of all the berries this year, these blackberries have still to ripen but they look more like bunches of grapes than brambles - it will be a wonderful harvest for all the birds and small creatures who rely on the hedgerow fruits to see them through the winter.

The size and quantity of the sloes was encouraging - you may be seeing some purple berries, I am seeing several bottles of sloe gin! The sloes need a frost on them really before they are used but if my source here at home isn't as generously covered as the ones by the river then I shall be going over in October to pick some of these.

These beautiful, glowing red berries are quite definitely for admiring only - the berries of the woody nightshade are poisonous but nevertheless it's my favourite of all the autumn berries.

These are the pretty flowers and unripe berries of woody nightshade which scrambles about using other hedgerow plants for support.

Elderberries beginning to ripen, these can be turned into elderberry rob which is wonderful for winter coughs and colds. This is on my to do list before I go off to the USA at the end of this month.

Hips and haws both beginning to ripen and just as prolific as all the other autumn fruits. The haws are the berries of the hawthorn and can be used to make wine, rosehips are a rich source of vitamin C and rose hip syrup was doled out regularly in winter when I was a child to help keep colds at bay. During WW2 children were paid to gather the rosehips so that they could be made into a syrup by a company called Delrosa. This was then supplied to the mothers of young children through the local baby clinics.

All these were growing within the space of less than a mile along the river estuary, the path has the salt marsh,mud flats and river on one side and the hedgerows and fields on the other. It's not only rich in wild fruits and flowers but in birds of all kinds especially waders and wildfowl. As the tide is going out or coming in it is an absolute paradise for birdwatchers. I see hundreds and hundreds of birds sometimes, I only wish I had more idea what I was looking at. It's a walk that is always full of interest for Bilbo Baggins as well as me, he meets lots of other dogs and loves racing about and playing on the salt marsh. I like walking on the salt marsh too when it's dry enough, it's covered in all kinds of specialized plants including sea lavender, sea asters and glasswort which was used in glassmaking at one time. It also keeps you fit as there are a lot of little creeks and gullies that have to be jumped over and one or two that are wide enough to encourage one to make a detour. Discretion is definitely the better part of valour at these points as I have no wish to suffer the embarrasment of having to scramble out of a deepish and very muddy crater and totter home looking like a drowned rat! Always assuming that I wasn't a drowned rat of course, the creeks fill up when the tide is in and frequently stay full too!


Gracie said...

Welcome back Rowan, it's always nice to read about your country walks!
It seems you're back for little time as you're packinmg again for the US.....
Gracie at

Derrick said...

Hello Rowan,

Enjoyed the stroll with you. All those berries - wonderful if you know all the recipes. I remember Delrosa syrup! The nightshade is cunning to have such attractive flowers and berries that are poisonous!

ruthie said...

Hi Rowan, you noticed it too. I am amazed at the hugeness of the hedgerow berris & fruits this year, its all the rain! We shall both be busy "making". Your trip to America sounds exciting! Mr O & I are off to shetland very soon, i cant wait. have a lovely weekend *ruthie*

Janet said...

You always take us on such wonderful adventures. I love this one with all the berries, and the hint of autumn. I'll have to be content with pictures of autumn for another month or so as it's still very hot here in the high desert.

Thimbleanna said...

Gosh -- what a perfect place that must be -- all those berries in such close proximity to each other. A little scary about the berries though -- they look perfectly innocent to me -- I'd probably pop them into my mouth!

Ali said...

Hi Rowan. Lovely photos. You're right too; Autumn does feel earlier this year. Along with some of the berries you've posted photos of, I've also noticed them on a holly tree in my area. Now that IS early!

Never mind. The last quarter of the year is by far my favourite.


Diane said...

Hi Rowan, When I started working for Steling Winthrop in Sheffield in 1979 they still made Delrosa Rosehip syrup. We used to buy it in the staff shop and drink it hot instead of tea in the office. I loved it. Ive gathered some Sloes already and put them in the freezer - I too see Sloe Gin - perfect.

Rosie said...

I have enjoyed my autumnal walk with you and been inspired by your hedgerow harvest. I remember going to the clinic with my Mum and coming home with Rosehip Syrup and her giving me a teaspoonful everyday - I loved it!

Mary said...

Rowan, you are named for a pretty berry!!
Love blackberries and used to pick such good ones as a child in Devon. Hard to find wild ones here in the South but they are available in the stores - I always try to snitch one first though because some are hard and tasteless (don't tell!).

Lovely post - and of course made me homesick! Are you coming to the US this Autumn?

Rowan said...

Hello Mary, yes I'll be flying to Boston on September 22nd and staying in New Hampshire for a couple of weeks - might even get to see the Fall colours this time!

hart said...

I am in the States (near D.C.) and berries are in good supply here too, odd, as we've had such a dry spell. And acorns--I wonder if their abundance, as in I can hardly mow the lawn, is a sign of hard winter coming. I am also glad you're back and to see new posts.--hart

joanne May said...

Hi Rowan,
Your post about the Autumn berries is lovely and very interesting.
I have also noticed there has been an abundance this year... I wonder why?
Maybe it is because we have had so much rain and mild weather!
The Rowan berries are a beautiful red. I like your advice on what you can use them for in cooking.
I like Gin and Bitter lemon so I wandered what Sloe gin tastes like?
I fancy trying some!;)
I have never heard of the name of Woody Nightshade before is it also called Deadly Nightshade?
Anyway, lovely to see you again
Best wishes Jo May.

Wanda said...

Hi Rowan...even her in my part of the U.S. autumn seems to be coming early this year...I love your walks and tours...I have creeks myself that I walk along or in!

Remiman said...

Ah, my dear lady it's been far too long since we spoke!
New Hampshire on the day before my birthday.
Welcome and I wish you favorable weather for your visit and your flights.
I miss you.

JANICE said...

Hello Rowan,

How beautiful the berries, especially the scarlet ones are. Your walks are always so interesting and full of the beauties of nature. I especially liked hearing about the recipes for making cough and cold remedies.

It's always a treat to visit. New Hampshire is an hour and a half away from my home in upstate NY. We have been enjoying particularly beautiful weather this September in the northeast. The color, as you know, is quite amazing. Hope you catch it just at the right time !


Julie said...

Rowan, This was such an intersting post about what your countryside has to offer. After an unfortunate encounter with sloe gin at age 21, I can no longer bear to be near it. But the berries are wonderful, as are all the others. I felt like I was taking a walk along the hedgerows and salt marsh with you. I know Gracie would love such a place.

uphilldowndale said...

I can recommend blackberry gin.

Petra said...

Hi Rowan, it was a pleasant walk in your company. All those berries...

When I was a child, we had to drink fish oil to be healthy as it was highly regarded. But it was disgusting, I would have changed it for a rosehip syrup right away! :-)

I am a bit confused now as I am not sure at all whether leaves are changing their green colour here too and it's already dark to have a look outside. I have to find it out tomorrow! Isn't it hard to abandon those warm sunny days? Unfortunately, there is no choice...

laoi gaul~williams said...

we have some amazing rowans near us and i look forward to the day my tiny one has fruit.
i have notice here the oaks are full of acorns~last year there were hardly any.

Roy said...

Hi Rowan, yes there are certainly a lot of various autumn riches around this year already.

Karen said...

Thankyou for sharing all of these beautiful Autumn berries. I do love to see the hedgerows so full as it reassures me that the birds and small creatures will be ok this winter.
I think I will also be making a batch of sloe gin this year :)

Pomona said...

Just discovered your blog - what a lovely post! I remember Delrosa from when I was small - I have never made rosehip syrup myself, but we do harvest elderberries and brambles for jam.

Pomona x

Ragged Roses said...

Isn't it a wonderful time of year! We went to spy on the sloes yesterday, just need a frost and a couple of bottles of gin and a Merry Christmas!!!

Morning's Minion said...

That was a wonderful rambling walk. I had hoped for an hour to poke up through the old pastures when I was in Vermont last week for my Dad's memorial service, but there was simply no time to spare. It had been rainy all summer and more dripping days while we were there. I was warned off going into the "woods" as there is an abundance of ticks, something fairly new in northern New England.
When there are so many berries for the picking one must DO SOMETHING with them--one of the joys and the compulsions of a country upbringing!

Margaret said...

The berries all look so lovely - but definitely a sign that fall is on the way! By the way, you had asked if the "Sting of Passion" exhibit as in Manchester, Enland, and I just wanted to let you know that it is! Have a great week!

Tina said...

Thanks for taking me into your wonderful surroundings. Great place to live!

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Have a great trip to the USA! You lucky thing!
I used to use Delrosa as a flavouring for home made yoghurt - it made it taste like 'peach'! I wish they still made it.

Mary said...

Not long now until you cross the pond again. Yes, NH should be colorful by the time you arrive - head up to the White Mtns. for the best color. We hope to enjoy Fall color in North Carolina's Blue Ridge in Oct., the trees change later here in the Southeast.

Have a safe, comfortable journey Rowan, and much fun while over here.

Sheila said...

Autumn is almost here as well. Leaves carpet my lawns every morning and are raked away only to reappear the next day. I loved rose hip syrup, and I also remember an orange vitamin c concentrate they gave to babies too. I think one of your earler commenters referred to cod liver oil, I prefer to forget it!
Enjoy your visit to NH, the leaves should be really turning by the end of the month.

Granny Sue said...

The berries are gorgeous! Some of them are not available in the US--the sloe, the rowan are two that I am pretty sure we don't have. Your blackberry looks different too. What a wealth of food available for free!

Your elderberry looks like ours. i've not heard of elderberry rob--can you post a recipe sometime?

Alicia said...

Oh, berries! A friend in Vemont makes the best home-made jams; her elderberry one is awesome.

I hope you enjoy your time in New Hampshire. I live in southeastern Connecticut, a liminal area 25minutes from the shore. I love the energy of the area. My home is surrounded by groves of oaks.

The autumn rains and winds have made their appearance. I literally come alive in the fall, though I do enjoy the growth typical of late spring and summer. The heat just gets to me.

Well, enough of my rambling post. I loved this entry. I would love to travel to England one day. I have only been to Ireland to visit relations.