Monday, 24 November 2008

Winter reds (whites and oranges too)

With the sun shining on us again this morning it was just the right weather to capture some of the brightest colours left in the hedgerows. The berries which are left are still pretty vibrant in the sun. This is proved by these Cotoneaster berries which were growing around the perimeter of the old theme park and colliery as mentioned in a previous post.There certainly is an abundance of them in spite of the recent cold weather and the constant depletion by birds.
Close up, they look juicy and tasty - especially if you are a Blackbird.
It isn't just the Cotoneaster which has many vibrant red berries still attached. The Dog Roses have many rose hips and, although they are beginning to wither a little, they still have a wonderful colour and a high-gloss finish.While on the subject of Dog Roses, we also came across this small object growing among the bare branches of one shrub. Looking like a tiny birds nest, it also has a reddish hue. It is actually a gall produced by the Diplolepis rosae Gall Wasp and is better known as a Robin's Pincushion.
Further round our walk and in the grounds of the 'Nottingham Lodge' of the old hall we found a tree with some very exotic fruits. These figs sadly have no chance of ripening but they were abundant. Many years ago the tree probably supplied quite a crop when it was being looked after properly.While we have departed from the 'red' theme of our berries and fruits, another common sight in the hedgerows at this time of year are the Snowberries Symphoricarpos albus. Malcolm tells me that as a child he and his friends used to pick these white, juicy berries and by squeezing them, would try to squirt them at each other! What a little horror - I blame his mother!!!!!!!Reddening a little again, we next came across thousands of Pyracantha berries. These are starting to look a little 'past their best' but still look like a tasty snack for the birds.Lastly, we found among the tangled mass of brambles some twining stems of the Woody Nightshade plant Solanum dulcamara. Also known as Bittersweet it has rather beautiful purple flowers with yellow stamens but the egg-shaped fruits which follow are among the best red colours you will find. They are also very poisonous!
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