7 Oct 2012

Foraging on an Autumn morning

Grass seedhead macro
~ Dew be-jewelled grass seedhead ~

Given the leaden skies and storms we've had over the last week, I'm treasuring every sunny day as it happens.  We had a beautiful day yesterday but I was indoors at a workshop all day.  Grrrr.  Luckily, the sun is also shining today (my one free day this week) and I was determined to go out to find rosehips as I've spied some beauties as I've been walking around the parish - and there's a delicious sounding recipe for Rosehip Jelly in this month's Grow Your Own mag.  (And I've run out of home-made rosehip cordial.)

So, off to Parliament Hill Fields on Hampstead Heath first thing this morning, having already gathered a half kilo of hips from bushes overhanging the streets of Kentish Town at dawn.  It was still early so I wore wellies as I knew the long grass would still be wet.  What I wasn't expecting was how beautiful everything looked in the sun.  There were a few runners and dog-walkers about, other than that I felt I had the heath to myself;  an extraordinary thing in the middle of London, and very peaceful. I was completely in the moment, camera in hand, focussing on the tiny details and enjoying the warm sun on my back.

With the light bouncing off the camera screen, it was hard to see my photos outdoors;  back inside an hour later, I was very pleased with several of my shots, especially the one above.  I've been a bit of wreck this last week (strep throat, eye infection, cold - all now nearing the end) and that's affected my photos. They've all been a bit uninspired.  Today, though, I feel I've started to get my mojo (whatever that is!) back.

With the dew to inspire me, I photographed glittering grass stalks, thistles that look like sea anemones ...

Dewy thistle heads

... and the sun shining through grass seedheads:

Parliament Hill Fields

Finally, I reached the bank of rose hips and set to work.  This is the first year that I've foraged for rose hips and I'm amazed at how many there are!  Is this normal, I wonder?

Rosehip branch

I gathered a kilo of hips by cutting carefully;  there were so many, both single hips and in bunches, it hardly looked as though I'd taken any!  I took my secateurs to reduce being scratched (mature hips have very effective protection by way of their thorny stems!); they're also handy for reaching branches slightly too high!  Even with using these, my fingers smelled of rosehips on the walk home, a reminder of the goodies to come.

Rose hips 7 Oct

I'm saving the task of removing the stems until later in the day as I want to make the most of this lovely sunshine to get into the veg garden.  I have to dig up the strawberries on ground level to make room for some rhubarb plants that I've grown from seed.  I'll save a few strawberries as I want to give them their own raised bed next year but all the others will be .... ssshhh, say it quietly! .... composted.

I'm a bit off strawberries after this year (who knew that slugs were so fond of them?) but the children enjoy them. I hoping my redcurrant bush will fruit next year (its third year) and I want to get a couple of dwarf apple trees and some blueberries for the veg patch.  Some of the herbs will be relocated in this process - something I'm looking forward to as I love to move things around!

Hopefully I'll have time to post the results of my kitchen efforts with the rosehips fairly soon;  I'll certainly be posting again later today with my Capel plant ID - I only knew one of the plants this week, the cardoon, so will have to work hard for my full marks this week!

16 comments:

  1. There seems to be so many bugs going round at the moment, I hope you feel better soon. The photos are really lovely, the morning light really does show up Mother Nature's beauty.

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    1. Thanks Jo, your good wishes are much appreciated - I'm hoping this bout of "winter ailments" will be over and done with in one go! I blame the week off that I had, it's reset my immune system to 'relax' - and I've got everything at once! I feel that the mornings are the best time of day; I love being out and about before the main rush (same goes for supermarket shopping!).

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  2. A nice autumnal post with good pictures.
    I hope to moving some of my strawberries tomorrow, and doing the same as you with the rest. Flighty xx

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    1. Thank you, Flighty. I actually like this time of the year with all the leaf changes and wonderful colours. I think the forecast is for dry weather tomorrow so I wish you well for getting some plot work finished. Dry days are getting fewer so we have to make the most of them while we can!

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  3. Sorry to hear you have been under the weather - hope you're feeling a bit better now. Like you I love being out and about in the early morning with no one else about - love your pics they really do say - autumn.

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    1. Thanks Elaine, winter ailments generally don't last long, I'm usually pretty hardy! Thanks for compliments on the photos, I was quite pleased with them! x

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  4. nice to have Hampstead Heath on your door step for these pleasant photo opportunities

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    1. ... and not just Hampstead Heath, David. Photo opportunities everywhere - some of my best sunset photos have been taken from my balcony!

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  5. Your recipe sounds wonderful, will look forward to how you get on in the kitchen! I envy you your sunshine, we are certainly getting more than our fair share of rain, fog, mist at the moment! The dew does make everything look wonderful first thing in the morning, best time of day as far as I'm concerned!

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    1. Hi Pauline, post with recipes for what to do with rosehips coming up. It took me a while to get round to it but I'm pleased with the results. Mist can be wonderfully atmospheric for taking photos but you need to be pretty hardy and motivated to head out in the cold and damp early morning!

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  6. The Hubster busted my glass pot of rose-hip tea recently so I have none left from last year. I think I may have to head out to collect some new ones though since it's such a delicious treat in the winter.

    Lovely photos Caro...Autumn can be so beautiful :)

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    1. Thank you, Tanya. I bet your hubby felt dreadful after he'd broken the pot - it takes a while to scrape out the inner pips in order to get the 'skins' for rosehip tea. I found a jar of loose rosehips for tea in a local wholefood store recently; they didn't smell very nice and I think had been there for a while. I'm sure fresh locally picked rosehip tea is much nicer!

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  7. Glad you are starting to feel a bit better Caro. Beautiful photos, I always think there is something extra special about those that you take without really being able to see what you are doing, more reminiscent of the old film days I suppose.

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    1. I agree, Janet. I often take several photos of the same subject, trying different angles or lighting - and usually prefer the first one! I have other favourites from this batch of photos but can't put them all up here - readers would get too bored looking!!

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  8. Sorry to hear that you have been unwell Caro - rose hip syrup would be the perfect tonic. Hope that you are feeling more human by now. My rosa glauca at the allotment is positively dripping with hips so I look forward to reading about your ventures in the kitchen. You have captured such exquisite colours in your photo of the grass seedhead. Wouldn't it make a fantastic earring?

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    1. The grass seed head was one of my favourite photos, Anna; thank you for your lovely comments. The rose hip syrup worked its magic and I've now made several more batches as it's so delicious! I feel well armed to embrace the winter with this and a jar of Manuka honey nearby! Get your hips picked - they can be frozen until you're ready to work with them. I envy you your Rosa Glauca shrub - I'd plant a whole row of them if I had my own gardens!

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Caro x

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