Friday, 28 July 2017

Cherry Plums

As I cycled to work the other day, I spotted a load of squashed plums, fallen on the foot path. The tree overhead was hanging down heavily laden with hundreds of delicious looking small (Cherry) Plums.
Closer inspection revealed that there was actually about four different trees, each sporting different colour Plums and each at a different stage of ripeness.
When fully ripe, plums will drop, obligingly, into the waiting palm of your hand at the slightest of tugs. If they are stubborn to remove, they will taste more tart, which is OK for cooking but they will ripen quickly on the branch.
I quickly stuffed a couple of ripe ones in my mouth as I zoomed past, they burst with a delicate juicy flavour; it had rained heavily the night before, so although small - they were fully plumped.
I returned on foot during my lunch hour and scoffed several more of these juicy beauties. I filled a bag to take home to the family and now return each day to grab a few more to see me through the day. The yellow ones have become house favourites and my daughter tells me, proudly, that she ate 23 of them yesterday!
Meanwhile, in other fruit and nut based news...
  • Ripe Blackberries have been spotted in the hedgrows, so it is probably time to get a little gang together and start rummaging around on the commons and parks armed with suitable containers.
  • Hazlenuts will soon be ready for picking too. The squirrels have been nibbling at the green ones already and by the end of the summer holidays they will be dropping of their own accord.

It is going to be a bumper year, no doubt about it. So be prepared, check out the falling fruit map (don't forget to add your own discoveries) get outside and get picking!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Bee Friendly

This month I have mostly been spotting Walnut trees and busy, buzzing Bees! 
Yet Another Walnut Tree
Ordinarily I would be harvesting the vast quantities of wild plums that are currently filling the trees but I have been unusually busy. 
If you have any spare time, I suggest getting down to the cricket ground opposite the Cricketers pub on Chestnut Avenue, Eastleigh, where they are available by the thousands.
I have had the pleasure to meet several colonies of very busy bees. In previous years we have found Bumble Bees making a nest in our lawn and they are back again this year, which makes mowing the lawn more complicated.
Very Busy
I have also found Wild Bees nesting in hollow trees, we located a fantastic one on Danebury Iron Age hill fort, where we had visited for a picnic and to collect Elder and Juniper berries.
More recently, my parents told me that they had a colony of Tree Bees in a nesting box that was normally reserved for a Blue Tit family.
This year, to my delight, a swarm of bees began to build a nest in my work car park, on an industrial estate. The honeycombs are attached partly to a shrub and partly to the perimeter fence. The bees are constantly attending to and extending the combs. The bees do not trouble anyone and I was easily able to approach the nest to photograph it.