Thursday, 31 October 2019

Autumn at Parsonage Cottage




Autumn is my favourite season, especially when the weather is fine and dry, which it hasn't been this year, but never mind.   I can always find plenty of things to forage and collect while I am out on my walks.      Pine cones, alder cones, beech nut cases, to name but a few.




I have collected oodles of them, to make winter wreaths.     

Several hours were spent wielding the pruning shears, trimming pine cones, painting some, bleaching others, snipping and wiring to a wreath made from some honeysuckle vines which I pruned a couple of weeks ago, then formed into a wreath shape.



I need to add a loop of wire to the back, for hanging, but then it is finished. 



I also made this one, much less work, and I like the simplicity.





I have been fairly busy in the kitchen. 



Apricots in Brandy, Prunes in Port,  Ginger in heavy syrup, and  Ginger in Brandy Syrup plus a couple of containers of Quince paste.


They will all be going into Christmas hampers.










I managed to fit in lots of long dog walks, despite the wet and muddy fields.    Toby still hates getting wet, but he is much more resigned to having to wade through deep puddles, especially when the alternative is to be left behind - of course I wouldn't leave him behind, but because I just walk on at the same brisk pace as normal, he thinks that is going to happen, so he delicately (for a chunky Labrador Cross) picks his way through, skipping with joy when we reach dry land.

This morning's walk was much drier though.   We went out along a bridle way which I haven't walked since the Spring.     I am so glad that I did. 

I had forgotten to take my camera or glasses, but when I spotted some pink flowers in the ancient hedgerow, I was intrigued enough to snaffle a couple of leaves and the accompanying flowers so that I could attempt to find out what it was.


Spindle!     Tiny, brilliant pink flowers with bright orange berries.  According to the Woodland Trust it is an indicator of ancient woodland - and just one field away there is indeed a patch of ancient woodland - the woodland which covered the area after the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago, a rare and special habitat.

The wood of the Spindle tree has been used to make spindles, toothpicks, skewers, viola bows,  knitting needles, pegs, and bird cages, according to Richard Mabey in his book 'Plants with a Purpose'.

The berries are 'fiercely purgative', poisonous, some say, but they were dried, powdered, and then rubbed into the hair of boys to rid them of lice, he doesn't say why it was only used on boys.

November tomorrow!







30 comments:

  1. Love your Autumn wreath. It's gorgeous. And all those fantastic preservatives. Elaine, I'm well impressed.

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    1. Thanks, Molly. I set the grandchildren to collecting pine cones for a project they wanted to do - they collected so many that I diverted a bag of them for me to play with!

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  2. The wreaths are beautiful. I've never heard of the Spindle Tree. It sure has a pretty little flower. Beautiful preserves too and I love the little cloth tops. My sister does that for the jams and jellies she sells at craft bazaars.

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    1. You would love that tree, Henny. Such an unexpected combination of colours, especially at this end of the year. I am busy making autumn chutney and using up some of the green tomatoes we have at the moment. I love this time of year!

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  3. Beautiful wreaths and all those preserves I too am impressed.

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    1. I am just a big kid who loves playing in her craft room! Spring always comes with an inbuilt need to clean the house through, autumn makes me want to craft and cook!

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  4. What lovely offerings on your table! I an intrigued by the spindle tree. The American version is smaller.

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    1. The colours of those flowers are so vivid and unexpected at this time of year, Joanne - truly a delight.

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  5. Never heard of that tree or of any tree blooming at this time of year. Is that normal for that tree?
    Lovely wreaths!

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    1. That was one of the first things I had to look up - and yes, it is quite normal for the Spindle tree. An autumnal delight!

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  6. Love those wreaths and what a wonderful table full of preserves.

    It must be good to have ancient woodland close by - not a lot of that in Suffolk. When some new hedges were planted near where we used to live they included Spindle in the mix.

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    1. They are just remnants, Sue, a few acres here and there, but wonderful for all that. Amazingly most of the leaves are still on the trees in Owl Wood, it must be something to do with the wet autumn, I suppose.
      Spotting the spindle tree was so exciting - so much unexpected colour, so many flowers, quite wonderful.

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  7. I like what you did with those pine cones. Lovely!

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    1. Thank you. I think I have got that particular craft out of my system for now! It took quite a lot of effort.

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  8. Gosh you've inspired me! I was just thinking yest that i needed to get cracking with making some preserves while peaches & plums are still on offer prices. Thanks for the lovely photos. Have a great friday!

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    1. Hello Thrifty Towers, peaches and plums - sounds wonderful. Green tomatoes are about the best that our garden can offer at the moment, I have a huge trug of them waiting for my attention. Lovely to meet you and thanks for visiting.

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  9. Your seasonal wreaths are lovely, such pretty delicate colours and the preserves sound delicious and look super in their bright covered pots. I'd heard of Spindle but have never seen it how wonderful to spot the flowers on your walk:)

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    1. Hello Rosie, The paint was the remnants of an old tin of Farrow & Ball which was so many years old that I thought it would have dried out long ago. Their colours are beautifully subtle, so it worked well with the naturals. I loved working on it, but I am now happy to hang up my secateurs and paint brush!

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  10. Bless you for the Spindle photo - that takes me back to my Wiltshire days, when I lived just beside the Shaftesbury ("Shaston" to us who lived by it or on it) Drove. That combination of pink and orange - and yet it doesn't clash!

    Loved the wreaths and the jars of Christmas fare. I have been making Apple, Pear and Ginger Mincemeat today (6 1/2 lbs of it). Prepped two days ago and then in the oven today whilst we sat and watched The King on Netflix (Henry V and Agincourt, v. good.)

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    1. It is a glorious and unexpected sight on a dull, grey and cold day - almost as exciting as when you have an unexpected and beautiful meeting with a wild creature - which I had just enjoyed in the field beyond, when I came across a hare. The hare was within touching distance when I first saw it. I think Mother Nature bestowed some of her most generous gifts that day!

      Home made mincemeat - much nicer than shop bought. Six and a half pounds - do you share it around, or do you REALLY love mince pies!! I hope those steroids have kicked in and that you are feeling much better.

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  11. Love your wreaths, very clever how you have made the pine cones into flowers. I´m sure your hampers are going to be yummy with the wonderful items you have made. I haven´t heard of Spindle but it is certainly colourful xcx

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    1. I got the idea for the pine cones from Pin-terest. I really must stop flicking through there, I haven't got enough spare time to do all the projects which appeal to me. Most frustrating! The spindle was wonderful, a really unexpected splash of colour and beauty. xx

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  12. So glad you have decided to carry on blogging, a lovely snapshot of country life with goodies aplenty.

    LX

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    1. I limp along. I do enjoy blogging, I get bogged down with it all, now and again. It is the time of the year when i feel that I want to bake and preserve, make tasty treats enough to feed an army, but another part of me wants to sit by the fire and sew/craft/paint/read/snooze, while a third part wants to be out in the fresh air with Toby. I need to find a happy medium, there are not enough hours in the day, especially now that I am about to go into hibernation mode.

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  13. Your wreaths are so lovely! I have never heard of the Spindle and have done some research on it - what a lovely flower. My Lovey is much like your Toby. She is not a fan of wet grass and looks at me most mournfully when I ask her to go out in it.

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    1. Hello Susan, Lovey would not enjoy walking around here at the moment, the land is completely water-logged, much worse than before; we have had so many days of heavy rain that even the roads are sometimes flooded at either end of the village. The grandchildren keep hoping that the school bus won't make it through...

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  14. Your Autumnal wreaths are lovely! I've never thought of bleaching fir cones and you've certainly been busy in the kitchen. I've never heard of the Spindle and how funny that the crushed berries were only recommended to be used on boys!

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    1. Hello Ann, it is a bit of a faff, bleaching the pine cones, but the result is very pleasing. I have already given away one of the wreaths, the other one is going (as a donation) to the local church sale.

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  15. Well you are very productive making wreaths and preserves like that, you could always sell a few

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    1. A tiny local church is holding a craft fair this weekend, most of what I have made is being donated to that, the grandchildren have helped... a little!

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Lovely to hear from you!