We just passed the autumnal equinox, the moment when the sun passes south over the equator. The harbinger of longer nights. It is the official start of autumn. And this autumn, all around us, the bounty is everywhere. Whether it is blackberries and elderberries, apples and pears and seeds and nuts of all types. While walking the area near the studio there was lots to collect and forage. Just look at what was collected.
Spanish Chestnuts (above right) in Trinity College, unfortunately just too small to be bothered opening and eating. But how beautiful and prickly they are. Hazelnuts from along the Royal Canal - lots and lots of them. These ones growing on hazelnut trees rather than bushes. They must have been planted after that section of the canal was filled in between the Royal Canal and Broadstone Train Station sometime after the early nineteen thirties. There are two type of nut husks - hairy spike ones and smooth skin - both giving slightly different type of nut
The most gathered nut in Ireland, ironically, is inedible; the horse chestnut. Children and their parents still make the seasonal walk gathering these beautiful russet shiny conkers. The thrill of opening one, freshly fallen, from its husk - the colour and shine will only last moments but is a joy to behold. Apart from whacking them off each other in a conker battle other uses I learnt from Native Americans in California. In times past they would crush the chestnuts and wet them regularly until a mould would develop on them. They would use the mould to help cure open wounds. The mould turned out to be related to penicillin.
Above right are sycamore seed balls. Each seed ball contains more than a thousand seeds - and a mature tree has lots of seed balls. I wonder how many get to grow to maturity.
Pears from Grangegorman, two types. one slightly bigger than a golf ball and the other about the size of a large cherry. But lots. And behind Mountjoy Prison, don’t you love the romanticism, crab apples galore. Lovely little yellow ones. Here’s to crab-apple jelly. And the diminuitive cherries (2nd Left), found beneath a cherry tree near the studio.
With thanks to foraging consultant Barbara Ebert.
If you want to forage - just go and look.
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Eugene Langan Photography, Studio Eight, 32 North Brunswick St., Dublin 7. D07 TWX3
e-mail: email@example.com - tel: 353(0)872597907 - web: www.eugenelangan.com