Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Good Year For Insects?

Thanks to a warm, dry spring, and despite a wet summer, we seem to have a bumper crop of insects this year. We have seen lots of bees, hover flies and butterflies in our garden, and my parents ended up with a triple-sized swarm of honey bees in a hive in their garden.

The last photo was taken by Rob (my husband) this morning. You can see every hair and claw on this enormous bumble bee in the original close-up.

Photo 1 copyright Julia K Walton 2008
Photos 2 and 3 copyright Rob Walton 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yellow Treasury For the EtsyVeg Team

I managed to glean a treasury for the EtsyVeg team today. I need some sunshine to brighten up a cloudy, rainy day!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hedgerow Series #3

This is Indian Balsam or Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) photographed next to the River Annan at Hoddam, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.

Introduced to the UK in 1839, it is now a troublesome, invasive species, most commonly found along waterways and on waste ground. The photograph below shows an example of the problem along this river. The RHS suggest ways to erradicate it here.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

This is a photo of Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra), a member of the daisy family. Photo taken 7 August 2009.

Friday, August 07, 2009

While walking our dog (Henry), Rob and I enjoy seeing the ever-changing variety of plants in the hedgerows around our house in southern Scotland. It seemed like a good opportunity to try out our new camera and take some photos of the plants throughout the year, and perhaps learn some of the names for the plants we photograph.

The sloes are just beginning to ripen.

These are the fruit of the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). Having tried them fresh from the tree, I would not recommend them raw: they are extremely astringent. They make a beautiful liqueur, called 'sloe gin'. The sloes are pricked with a fork, then infused in a mixture of gin and sugar for three months, before the liquer is drained off the fruit, filtered and bottled. I have since been given the tip that freezing the fruit first, splits the skin and saves having to prick each one with a fork.

Roger Phillips, in his book "Wild Food" ISBN 978-0-330-28069-3, also mentions recipes for Sloe Jelly, Sloe and Apple Cheese and Sloe Wine.


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