Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dabbling in the leafmould

I haven't re-ignited my love affair with Autumn but I have, at least, recovered a fondness for it. To celebrate the realisation I started the day with crumpets laden with my sister's home-made rowan jelly. I supplied the rowan berries a couple of years ago; this year's crop is in my freezer ready for her. It's a good job that I got a couple of bags full when I did: on the Sunday the tree was ablaze with orange berries, with odd bits of green leaf poking out here and there when the wind blew, by the following Saturday there was nary a one to be seen. Half a dozen blackbirds scoffed the lot, in between chasing each other noisily round the branches. I also have the Himalayan rowan, Sorbus hupehensis, which the blackbirds generally leave alone and which are usually festooned with pearly white berries right up to the middle of January when the mistle thrushes finally cotton on to them. They'll find meagre pickings this year as the blackbirds have scoffed the lot already. Some or other wise old weather-beaten sage would read much into this. I just think the blackbirds had a good breeding season and raised a brood of greedy hooligans. For some reason all of them ignore the roadside hawthorn just down the road and every Spring we're treated to a red and white confection of haws and mayflowers.


Each morning is heralded by a cacophony of starlings, with the robin and the wren chucking in their two penn'orth to make sure we don't forget they're around. Between the motorway, the airport and things with feathers there's not a lot of hope for a quiet life round here.

In the garden long enough to fill the bird feeders, plant some more bulbs and set to digging out some of the brambles. If you live by a railway line brambles, rosebay and sycamores are a fact of life. Years of experience have taught me that a sturdy pair of gardening gloves covered by a thick pair of acid-proof latex gauntlets (my brother's in the chemical industry) give me a good enough grip on a bramble stem to be able to drag the plant out of the ground with my only getting two or three deep scratches. A similar arrangement works for weeding through the gooseberry bush.

A short interlude while I watch a mixed tit flock arrive in the garden. Coal tits are harbingers of winter round here. The pair in this flock are freshly-moulted and finely dark olive grey with pale pink bellies. There's only four or five long-tailed tits, which is a bit of a worry as there was a family flock of fifteen during the summer.

I should enjoy it while I can, I suppose.

10 comments:

Gaw said...

Kevin, talking of dabbling, I wonder whether you'd be interested in contributing to The Dabbler? I'd love to read your '6 Clicks' (see the site at www.thedabbler.co.uk for details)... Not to worry, however, if the garden is swallowing all your free time!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Thanks for the invite, Gareth. Consider it done. I've rather over-committed myself to a pile of library-related writings-up so this would be a nice antidote.

moreidlethoughts said...

And while you are enjoying it...so am I. Thankyou for the prod along Memory LAne.

Gaw said...

Lovely. The contact details are on the site, Kev.

nursemyra said...

I love gooseberries. do you make jam with them too?

Scarlet Blue said...

a family flock of fifteen

I've tried reading this out loud and it comes out as: A family flock of fliffleen...

A robin flew into my window the other day, but it only suffered minor concussion.
Sx

Pat said...

Scarlet : more tonic - less gin :)
We are plagued with hazels seeding, a bit of bind weed, the fearsome ground elder and shumac trees.
I wonder if rowan berries take gallons of sugar? I imagine them being a touch bitter. Lucky you to have such a kind sister.

Lulu LaBonne said...

I have jelly envy, something I plan to make every year and don't get round to.

I love autumn - but it's too short (probably like all the best affairs)

Madame DeFarge said...

I would like your garden please. Do you deliver?

Kevin Musgrove said...

moreidlethoughts: no problem, thank you!

Ta Gaw!

nursemyra: I've not had enough off this bush yet. I fry them with bacon and a spot of vinegar. (Note to self: buy sister a goosegog bush for her birthday)

Scarlet; no need to be staring into a full bus to get the full effect.

Pat: ah yes, hazel seedlings...

1lb sugar to 1 pint juice once you've boiled and strained the berries. It's nice and tart, just like a good crab apple jelly.

Lulu: I don't have the patience. Neither has my sister nut she once she gets into the mood...

Madame DeF: I may have time for garden design next year. ;-)