Now the nights are drawing in, trees are slowly starting to change colour and hedgerows have their Autumn decoration of berries. I’ve spotted Hips and Haws (Rosehips and Hawthorn berries), Sloes, and Black Bryony berries. Lords and Ladies can be also found by the hedgerows. On the green opposite the Bull’s Head, there is a Hawthorn tree with an amazing number of berries. Hawthorn trees, in particular, are associated with fairies, and it is considered bad luck to bring a branch of hawthorn blossom into your house without asking the tree’s guardian fairy for permission. Oak, Ash and Thorn trees growing together are supposed to have magical powers.

Sadly the blackberries are not good this year, presumably because of the rather bizarre weather we’ve had this summer. Usual hotspots have proved unfruitful – barely enough for an apple and blackberry pie. When testing ripeness, I aim for the upper branches and Minnie (black lab) works the lower ones. Quite a few dogs like blackberries, so it is probably not a good idea to pick any near the ground as they may well have been licked. For some reason, the few juicy ones this year seem to have been more at Minnie’s level than mine.

A couple of months ago, I was woken by loud squawking noises in the garden. Looking out of the window, I was amazed to see an alarming number of jackdaws lined up on the lawn, tree house and runner beans. The squawking had been caused by a couple of aggressive magpies dive bombing them on the lawn. The jackdaws were patiently queuing up for bird seed placed into the new guaranteed jackdaw (and squirrel) proof containers. This was depressing. However, after a few more abortive attempts, a feeder was purchased, which actually kept jackdaws/squirrels out and let small birds in. Since this acquisition, the jackdaws have turned their attention to our apple tree, from which they have been taking one of their ‘5 a day’. We are more than happy with this development as the apples, despite their promising appearance, are dry and tasteless.

Thanks to the LEAP Wild Flower Quiz at the Ewhurst Carnival, I can now tell the difference between Cow Parsley and Wild Angelica. I was wondering whether Wild Angelica was the same sort that is candied and sold as a cake decoration but Garden Angelica is generally used for this purpose.

LEAP plans to have an Autumn walk before the weather becomes too chilly, so keep an eye on the website to find out when this will take place.

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