Tag Archives: country

Autumn in the Clwydian Hills

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Where I live Autumn has arrived! I do enjoy the different seasons and living in the Welsh countryside means I really notice how the year changes. At the moment the farmers are, well, farming! The stock is being moved, the sheep are shorn, the fields are being worked and the hay is in. Hens are laying ( eggs are always for sale at the farm gates). Vegetables are still cropping and being sold at bargain prices. The hedgerows are full of blackberries and my freezer is full of gooseberries and plums waiting to become jam.

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So for now, smile a while see you soon!

 

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Wordsmith Wednesday – Blackberry vs Bramble

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imageThe blackberry is a bramble

In British English, a “bramble” is any rough (usually wild) tangled prickly shrub—specifically the blackberry bush (Rubus fruticosus)—or any hybrid of similar appearance, with thorny stems. Bramble or brambleberry may also refer to the blackberry fruit or products of its fruit (e.g., bramble jelly). The shrub grows abundantly in all parts of the British Isles and harvesting the fruits in late summer and autumn is often considered a favourite pastime. It can also become a nuisance in gardens, sending down its strong suckering roots amongst hedges and shrubs.

Elsewhere, such as in the United States, the term “bramble” also refers to other members of the Rubus genus, which may or may not have prickly stems—notably the raspberry (Rubus idaeus) or its hybrids. The word comes from Germanic bram-bezi.

Bramble bushes have a distinctive growth form. They send up long, arching canes that do not flower or set fruit until the second year of growth. Brambles usually have trifoliate or palmately-compound leaves.

Bramble fruits are aggregate fruits. Each small unit is called a drupelet. In some, such as the blackberry, the flower receptacle is elongated and part of the ripe fruit, making the blackberry an aggregate-accessory fruit.

Many species are grown and bred for their fruit. Ornamental species can be grown for flowers (e.g. Rubus trilobus), for their ornamental stems (e.g. Rubus cockburnianus) and some as ground cover (e.g. Rubus tricolor). Members of the Rubus genus tend to have a brittle, porous core and an oily residue along the stalk which makes them ideal to burn, even in damp climates. The thorny varieties are sometimes grown for game cover and occasionally for protection.

Most species are important for their conservation and wildlife value in their native range. The flowers attract nectar-feeding butterflies and hoverflies, and are a particular favourite of Volucella pellucens.

Brambles are important food plants for the larvae of several species of Lepidoptera—see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Rubus. The leaves of brambles are often used as a main food source for captive stick insects. Many birds, such as the common blackbird, and some mammals will feed on the nutritious fruits in autumn.

Ode to Autumn

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. (John Keats)

There is no greater Autumnal pleasure than a walk down a country lane (me!)

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This lane leads away from my cottage and up the hill. This Autumn day it was extra specially gorgeous. The blossom was blowing in the air like confetti. As I walked up the hill I found a bounty of Blackberries not yet eaten by the birds. I picked some and left some for the birds to share.

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I was scratched, nettled and happy. My fingers were a delicious shade of purple. Benji dog thought it a good idea to steal some from my box but I rescued enough to make a pot of jam or jelly.

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Ive only just learned the difference between jam and jelly! Jam you cook with the sugar until set. Jelly you cook only the berries, strain and then add sugar and cook until set. Both are delectable.