Saturday, 20 August 2011

Late summer

There's a freshness to the air when I walk Tammy in the morning now. Where previously it felt as if I was a late joiner to a day that had begun hours earlier, now the world just seems to be waking up at 6am. Berries are green but ripening on the elderflower trees and we have collected our first harvest of blackberries. The apple tree is also laden with its first crop of James Grieve. It must be approaching harvest time!

I'm watching the elderberries progress with great interest as every year I make a cordial from the berries, which is both delicious and has a reputation for fighting off winter colds. I have to be quick to beat the birds to the berries, plus there are many other human foragers in Sheffield. It is a heavily wooded city - the greenest city in the UK if not Europe - so there are always plenty of berries left for the wildlife on the more inaccessible trees. I am also doing some reading into blackberry leaves which seem to be a neglected native remedy compared to other, better known and researched herbs from Asia and America. I have been eyeing up the dramatic purple banks of willow herb - a plant that used to be timid and rarely seen until the last century when it decided to come out and rampage - with similar interest in its medicinal properties. There are so many herbs growing around us that we could make much more use of!

The rowan trees are heavily laden with jewel like red berries, so pretty against their green leaves. I have been tempted to make a rowan berry jelly but on further reading it seems to be a fiddly process! Instead I think I will harvest some of the wild apples growing in the woods and make a crab apple jelly.