What do we expect from Autumn? Leaves, nuts, fruit, fungi, colours and storms!
We’ve already experienced Storm Ophelia (or ex-hurricane Ophelia) which was one of the strongest storms to hit Ireland and caused a lot of damage in the south and south east of Ireland. Some homes are still waiting for their electricity to be restored. It is hard for us to imagine a week without electricity, though our parents and grandparents would have been well used to it (our own area being electrified in 1951). Today, Storm Brian, is passing through, he is not expected to cause as much damage as Ophelia.
Many large trees were felled by Ophelia. This year, we are told is a good seed year for oaks and beech. So it seems appropriate to try and set some seeds to replace some of those that have been lost. We’ve collected some beech nuts from some impressive local beech trees. We’ve also collected some sweet chestnut seeds but only found a few acorns so far.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if one day one of our collected seeds could look like this (we will of course be long gone!).
These hawthorns berries aren’t native Irish ones but an American variety. They are larger than our native haws and have a pleasant apply flavour. I just love the way they glow in the sunshine.
In previous years, I have written about our sea buckthorn crop. This year, we (well more correctly my husband) have been much better at harvesting the berries. They are fiddly to pick due mainly to the small size of the fruit and large size of the thorns.
We’ve been juicing the berries. While my husband is happy to drink the tart juice straight or half diluted with water, I prefer mine mixed with warm water and drunk like a tea. We have two varieties of berries, and one is definitely more palatable that the other. We have frozen some of the juice in, in ice-cube trays so that we will continue to benefit from the berries many good properties over the winter.
It had been thought that the native Irish honeybee Apis mellifera mellifera was extinct. However, research from Jack Hassett at the Limerick Institute of Technology has found that this may not be the case at all. Using DNA techniques, bees from three hundred Irish hives were examined and the vast majority were found to be a pure form of the native bee Apis mellifera mellifera.
This is good news and makes it even more important that we protect this unique population.