J and I share an interest in botany and entomology, and where J lives on the Cornwall/Devon border we are very lucky to have a plethora of natural landscapes to explore: woods and streams and fields. Last week I discovered a new meadow which hasn't been grazed for well over a year, and wading thigh deep through the long grasses I found all sorts of delights.......
the dainty lilac Tufted Vetch with its minute climbing tendrils, and the creamy froth of Meadow Sweet scenting the air
Hemp Agrimony (above) and grasses galore, so pretty
a Small White butterfly feeding on Common Fleabane, and fine spider's webs covered in the glistening droplets of morning dew.
and Creeping Thistle.....
This thistle has small purple flowers, and I've never really paid it much attention before, being rather plain and prickly, but on seeing its fluffy seeds at this time of year I suddenly had an idea.....
The seeds are as soft as down, and easily come away in the hand when teased.....I fetched a bag from the van and started collecting it with earnest. I'm going to use it as a natural filling and mix it with lavender when I stuff my little handmade pillows! I've always hated using that horrible polyester filling, and now I have found a completely natural alternative.
Quite a few seed heads had ladybirds nestled in the fluff, so I left those be....they obviously know a good thing - it must be the perfect warm place to spend the night now that autumn is upon us.
Whist I was wading from thistle to thistle I suddenly noticed this beautiful moth had crawled onto my hand. It remained motionless, so I ignored it and carried on collecting. Presently it crawled up onto the lapel of my cardigan, and seemed completely oblivious to my movements. Two hours later it was still there! I think it must have taken my mottled cardi for a suitable piece of bark on which to camouflage itself. It's these unexpected little surprises of nature that so delight me.
My bag of thistledown.... oh if you could only put your hand in there and feel how soft and warm it is!
At the bottom of the sloping meadow a thick band of mature trees borders a stream. Sycamore and Hazel Nut.....
I found evidence of broken nuts on the ground and even saw a squirrel, but there were still plenty of Hazel Nuts to pick. Although not fully mature and brown yet, they can be eaten whilst still green; and I will show you what they are like near the end of the post.
Underneath the canopy of trees were sprawling brambles, laden with blackberries just begging to be picked......
and what absolute whoppers!
It didn't take me long to fill my bag.
On the way home I stopped at the stall at the side of the road and bought some local apples to make a blackberry and apple crumble, something I haven't made for ages!
I thought the Hazel Nuts would make a nice addition to the crumble, so with a couple of stones I cracked them open to reveal the creamy-white kernel inside.
Eaten green like this they don't have an awful lot of taste, but are deliciously fresh and crunchy.
When the crumble was cooked, I just scattered the kernels over the top along with a generous dose of double cream, and tucked in! Such an autumnal treat. I love to forage in Nature's larder and gather food for free.
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(I can't wait to go to the meadow in spring and summer next year and see what flowers and insects are to be found then. I saw the dried seed cases of bluebells. I just hope that whoever owns the land doesn't decide to put a herd of cows in there. It is so rare these days to find an undisturbed meadow. There were grasshoppers and crickets everywhere, but as you can imagine, as soon as I approached for a close-up with the camera, they were off! I also found a kind of snail that I have never seen before: it looked like a pond snail, but was in the middle of the field. I shall try to identify it. J went there a few days ago, and a deer suddenly bounded out of the bracken in front of him.)