Thursday, 1 March 2012

Blooming Blossom

Beautiful Hedgerow Blossom

Spring is in the air at last, and it looks like it might be early this year. Daffodils are showing their bright yellow faces by the roadsides and you will begin to notice the hedgerows filling up with the beautiful, snowy haze of blossom.

Plum Blossom Heralds in the Springtime
This busy bloom is the flowers of the blackthorn (sloe is the fruit) and plum trees. It can be difficult to tell the two apart at first (they both belong to the same family) but the blackthorn has long sharp thorns on the branches and trunks, so the clue is in the name.
To Distinguish between Plum and Blackthorn - Press Your Thumb On These...
As the early flowers open, the trees are also filled with plump buds and soon all of these proto-flowers will burst forth in their full glory, smothering the trees in a haze of effervescent beauty.
This blossom is not just a thing to marvel at and wonder over. It is also a chance to register where delicious fruit may be growing later on.
At this early stage you will not be able to discern which variety of fruit (if any) will later appear; it could be damson, mirabelle, bullace, cherry plum, greengage or normal plums.
Like a Chinese Painting
Cherry plums make a sweet, firm afternoon snack; I often pick some during my lunchtime wanders and stash them in my lunchbox to munch on later.
Plum Blossom Normally Has Five Petals
The elusive greengage is quite simply delicious; they burst in your mouth like soft, delicate nectar-filled purses. There is a stone in there too mind you, so it’s best not to get too carried away.
If you are lucky you may even find a Victoria plum tree (the head Chef’s favourite) – We found one last year with big, fat beauties on it. It was in a Chandlers Ford car park and most likely a remnant left over from an old orchard or fruit garden.
A Blooming Wave
In the end though, it’s not the technical name of individual fruits that matters, it’s the fact that they taste delicious straight off the tree, freeze easily, cook well, make great wine and cost absolutely nothing.
Hedges Change Colour
There is always a positive glut of plums available every year. So, you should never need to buy them from the supermarket when they are in season next June/July.
Buds Bursting To Open

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