Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Lakeside Berries

After spending much of the morning cleaning the house and vacuuming up the spider webs which seem to be appearing all over the house at the moment, we had a quick walk around the lakes of Straw's Bridge. It had rained over night (thank goodness - we were beginning to need some rain), so everything was a little damp and sparkled in the sun.
The hedgerows are filled with berries of every shape, size and colour. Among the more colourful have to be the berries of the Spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus).
The three-lobed, bright pink fruit of the Spindle, ripens and then bursts open to expose the equally brightly coloured, orange seeds within. The fruits are poisonous, containing - among other things - the alkaloid theobromine which is also present in cocoa and which makes chocolate poisonous if eaten in large enough quantities.
Staying with the red fruiting plants, among the more common and certainly the most well known, has to be the Dog Rose (Rosa canina). The fruits of the Dog Rose are of course known as Rose Hips and these too are very brightly coloured when ripe.
Steering away from the red fruits, we have a large quantity of White Dogwood trees (Cornus alba) around these parts. Native to Siberia, this is an extraordinarily hardy plant and able to withstand temperatures as low as −37.2°C. Not much chance of it getting that cold here - thank goodness.
Like it's cousin the Common Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), White Dogwood is widely planted in gardens and parks, not only for the colourful fruits, but also for its red-barked stems which add some welcome colour to the winter garden when all the leaves have fallen. But for now, we are happy to make the most of their unusual berries.
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