Autumn approaches but the wood is still full of leaf even if there are some early signs of yellowing in some of the trees.
John Keats’ poem To Autumn with its famous first line:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
always makes me think of cooler mornings and watery sunshine on the fluttering patches of reds and yellow as the trees lose their leaf chlorophyll.
As daylight hours shorten and the temperature cools, chlorophyll begins to decrease and the orange and yellows (carotenoids) that have always been there start to show through. However, the reds and purples,(anthocyanins) aren’t present in the leaf through through the growing season but develop in late summer. When the autumn days are bright and cool and nights are chilly then the leaf colours are at their best.Now is the time to start walking through the wood on a regular basis to watch the colours of the shrubs and trees changing.
It’s also the time to pick the last of the blackberries, although many are already passed their best. Folklore has much to say about the humble bramble but one story I particularly like warns against the picking of its berries after the 29th September, also known as Michaelmas. On that date, so the legend goes,Lucifer was cast out of heaven and landing on the prickly bush cursed the shrub and its fruit, so anyone picking the fruit after that date risked stirring up the devil’s anger. Of course, it’s also a good way of remembering that most blackberries are past their best by the end of September so if you want some fruit for free, and to avoid the devil’s anger, get picking!
Which brings me nicely to the Apple juicing event on 29th September at Manor Site Farm where the wonderful crop of apples enjoyed by most of us this year can be pressed to make apple juice which also freezes well. Come and enjoy some time together with fellow growers and/or tasters. All the details regarding on the village website, www.thegiddings.org.uk.
I think Keats would approve of such things:
by a cider press, with patient look, Thou watches the last oozing, hours by hours.
Hopefully the Gidding pressing won’t take quite that long!
The Wood Wanderer