BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘Elder’

#365daysofbiking Respecting the elders

Tuesday, September 29th 2020 – Out and about the leaves may be starting to turn but there are still plenty of fruits, berries and seeds about. Crab apples and conkers litter the ground and edges of roads; acorns crunch as you ride past oak trees overhanging canal towpaths; one often startles birds picking at the last, dripping blackberries clinging on to wayside thickets.

The black and glistening favourite of home wine-makers, the elderberries, did not seem to have a good season this year with small, sparse fruit with only the odd profuse bush. But some still cling on, mainly to feed the birds.

As usual, there are still plenty in Victoria Park, Darlaston. For some reason the local winemakers generally leave these for the birds.

Seeing these handsome berries is bittersweet, like the fruit itself, for they signify the end of summer.

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#365daysofbiking Respect your elders

May 30th – Also blossoming now is the delightful and humble elder, a shrub beloved of winemakers for hundreds of years. It grows in woods, hedgerows, on wasteland and anywhere it can. Here in Harlaston it’s thriving at the back of Victoria Park.

The tiny, beautiful white flowers have a gorgeous scent and can be used to make wine or champagne: the berries they make way for – deep red, almost black – make a heavy, heady wine that’s almost legendary.

This gives the winemaker a tasty dilemma: White and floral or red and strong?

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August 18th – In spite of my earlier feeling that we were in for a thin harvest, the hedgerows and woodlands are laden with berries, nuts and fruit this year. I noted on Brownhills Common that the elderberries were now showing well and in abundance, which is good news for local winemakers, who will produce a dark red, strong and face-numbing drink from these shiny, dark berries.

And long may it continue!

April 11th – There is beauty and positivity in the gloom – the cycleways, verges, edge lands and tracks of Telford are lined with tentative buds and trees coming into early leaf. Nature is just poised to go for it when the warmth comes, just holding it’s breath…

Aren’t we all?

May 8th – The one blossom that’s always overlooked, but is actually beautiful is Elder; elderflowers of course make great wine and soft drinks,not to mention the berries but the blooms look pretty too, and smell divine – all the more welcome as often elder grows in margins, edgelands and waste ground otherwise considered ugly. 

Here on the cycleway at Goscote there’s a prolific and strong showing of the creamy white blossom which most be a good sign for the home-brew types this year too.

May14th – I was back in Telford, and shut in an airless building with no natural light, so I missed a sunny, gorgeous day. This made it nicer to be out when I left though, and cycling home from Four Oaks in the evening sun I was struck by how green and verdant everything now is.

At Mill Green, the cottage looks lovely cloaked in it’s summertime shroud of greenery, and I noted the elders were flowering beautifully up the lane. 

A wonderful evening ride.

September 13th – Elderberries seem a bit thin on the ground this year. Along the canal from Walsall Wood to Brownhills, there are usually clumps of the dark fruit hanging heavy on the bushes during autumn. I guess this is another symptom of a poor summer with few insects to pollinate the flowers. Local home-brew specialists may well have to find other wild fruit for their wines this year.