I carefully walked a long Frankendael hedge and woodland today, hunting for Sloes on Blackthorn trees and shrubs. My wander was fruitless in one way – not a single Sloe to be found and yet very fruitful in others:
Here is a woodland wild rose, already covered in very dark, almost ripe hips.
The following rosehips are more the norm. In a sunny location, this shrub flowered later than the one shown above and hence it ripens hips later. They are well on the way though.
Here’s a Jerusalem artichoke plant in full bloom. I wonder if this park has tried the Sarphatipark method of using it to smother chopped down Japanese knotweed?
Here is Rowan, ablaze with ripe orange berries. There are many uses of this fruit. Here’s a particularly tasty one.
More ripening and ripe Blackberries, this shrub is one of several within the park.
And here are the Sloes which I eventually found. My daughter wanted to go to our closest playground all along. When I gave up my Sloe hunt and returned there, we found a huge Blackthorn absolutely laden with fruit. I harvested as many as I could manage, all of which popped off the tree without any effort. Traditionally Sloes are harvested late, after the first frost but this usually means I miss the chance to harvest more than a few fruit. This year, for a change, I am harvesting as and when I see the fruit become ripe enough (fully coloured and very plump). I am scoring them with a sharp knife before freezing them. When I have about 500g, I’ll heading out for a bottle of Gorden’s Gin or similar, will combine the berries with some sugar and the gin and will leave it for as long as possible to infuse that unique sloe flavour into the sweetened spirit. There’s nothing quite like it and I am very excited to have found an inner city Sloe hot spot!