A Cotswold Year - Charting the seasons in the South Cotswolds

Monday, 29 September 2014

In a few days a field of maize is harvested then hedges trimmed and the ground is ploughed  harrowed planted and rolled. Modern farming certainly gets on with the job!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Autumn colours starting

 We are past the equinox and autumn is here so the spectacular colours of deciduous trees are starting as they prepare to shed their leaves.
Pictures  taken at Westonbirt Arboretum

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Blackberry and Apple Jelly

On our walk around the Uley valley recently we picked some juicy blackberries. With the windfall apples  I had the perfect ingredients to get some jelly making going. After boiling the fruit until squishy it was time to strain it overnight to catch the juice.

Then measured the juice and boiled it with the appropriate amount of sugar until setting point was reached.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Blackberry Harvest

 This year has been particularly good for blackberries and the hedgerows are laden with juicy ripe berries.Now is the time to get out and collect this delicious harvest!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ancient Trees

We are lucky in living near to the semi natural ancient woodland of Coaley Wood and the footpath through the wood passes this coppiced beech tree which has been recently recorded as an ancient tree.
This tree has stood on this spot for hundreds of years  and has survived because it has been coppiced or cut down for timber and allowed to regrow from the original stump. The adjacent has been quarried for stone and the roots of the tree undermined somewhat but the tree has survived with six stems from the old trunk.
 Long may it continue!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Sunshine and Autumn colours

We are enjoying the September weather for walks in the countryside. We have noticed the trees gradually changing colour as they prepare for winter dormancy. As the trees begin to shutdown the green chlorophyll which is important for making food in the growing season gradually disappears from the leaves and we get to see the yellow, orange and red colours more prominently which is what gives us the "Autumn colours".
You can see it starting to happen here in this Acer on our patio:

Sunday, 31 August 2014


Sunflowers are a crop not often seen in our area but this strip near Leonard Stanley seems to be doing well. We  thought they were supposed to face the sun but these seem to be turned away perhaps avoiding the prevailing winds.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Maize nearly ready for harvest

The field of maize near our house seems to have grown well this summer and is almost ready for harvesting. 
Maize a type of wild grass came from tropical Mexico around 5000 years ago spreading to other South American civilisations. Eventually the Spanish discovered it and exported it around the world.
In the UK maize doesn't usually ripen as a grain due to the climate. The corn cobs are harvested together with the plants by farmers in the south when it is cut in the autumn and made into a high energy silage crop for winter feeding of cattle.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Yellow plums

Autumn brings fruit of many types. Yesterday we picked and dealt with the yellow plums from our old tree.

The plums are quite dry to eat raw but delicious stewed and served with yoghurt, in a fool, made into jam or with apples from our neighbour's tree and made into chutney.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Caper Spurge or Euphorbia Lathyrus.

We have spotted this plant in the countryside many times but this year it popped up in our garden. We couldn't agree on a diagnosis so asked some friends who easily identified it as Caper Spurge, Mole Plant or Euphorbia Lathyrus.
When we say "popped" the plant grows at an alarming rate and by the time we pulled it up it was one and a half metres tall!  All parts of the plant including the seeds and the roots are poisonous to humans and most animals so be very careful if you come across one. When seeds are ripe they apparently explode sending them everywhere which must be how it arrived in our garden.
It's other name Mole Plant comes from the fact that it is supposed to repel moles in the garden. W think it might have worked as we did have a young mole around in the spring but come to think of it he hasn't been around recently!