Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ancient Woodland. Suprise Fruit.

Yesterday we had to go to Roscommon, this is normally a once every six weeks place as it's a 60k round trip and we try to limit our use of the car, as we had to go out of our six week period we decided we would visit St. Johns wood which is only ten minutes on.
This is one of Irelands oldest continuous woodland, pollen samples prove that there has been woodland here for 7000 years. The woods have over the millennia  been used for coppicing and building timber, it covers an area of over three hundred acres.
There are well maintained pathways throughout but not much in the way of signs, there are areas being coppiced to allow the larger trees such as oaks to grow to maturity,
Elephant...? Elf....? It is what you want it to be.
      there are some lovely rocks amongst the undergrowth,
                                     and huge ferns .
We had expected to find fungi but they were few and far between, it's been rather too dry for them this Autumn.
 It is a lovely area, but rather too peaceful, the one thing that we noticed was the absence of birds  squirrels or even badgers, yet there would be plenty of food for all. There are a lot of Hazel trees all dropping their nuts, but no sign that there is any animal activity.
  The wood is on the shore of Lough Ree where there are very interesting stones,
                               the locals call them moonstones.
 A little further around the lake is a peninsular with the remains of a medieval village and Rindoon Castle.
The castle was built in 1227 by Henry the 3rd but was only occupied for one hundred and fifty years. We didn't make it to the village or the castle, this is a trip for another day.
We found a crab apple tree which had plenty of fruit high up but we still managed to gather over two and a half pounds of windfalls which I am turning into Crab-apple Jelly, an ideal accompaniment to poultry or game.
There were still plenty of Blackberries and surprisingly,
                                   blackberries still in bloom.
 Hazel trees already have the catkins on them ready for next spring,
                        masses of sloes hung from the trees,
 some the size of small plums, such a shame that I can find no use for them, neither of us like sloe gin.
We were especially delighted to find a Spindle tree in full berry, it's one of my favourites trees,
                   the berries are so colourful this time of year.
 We have planted several of these trees in one of our hedgerows but it will be a few years before they show their full beauty, although they did flower this year.
Our planted tomatoes are now coming to the end but a surprise awaited in the tunnel,
one of the self-seeded tomato plants from last year delivered us with over two lbs. of beautiful ripe fruit.
The first frost arrived a couple of days ago, fortunately it was only a light one, we still had a
pumpkin and custard squashes in the garden, these have now been harvested and no sign of frost damage to them.
 Over the next few days non hardy plants will have to be moved into the sunroom.
Nearly two weeks into October and we have only had a couple of days of rain.
We are still getting beautiful sunsets , golden light shines over the forest. It is a lovely time of year.


  1. You had a lovely day for your trip. Lovely bonus finding that crab apple tree. Love that cottage in your last pic.

  2. We seemed to have done a circuit around the lake heading in the Athlone direction past the castle entrance, we found the cottage on the outskirt of a small village but did not get the name. The cottage was so picturesque we had to take a photo.

  3. Hello! I found those woodland pictures quite spooky accompanied with the note that there was no animal activity!! We have lots of crab apples being sold on the streets here in Cadiz. I can't believe you are still getting so many black berries and you found some black berries in bloom! Gorgeous photos x

    1. In Galicia we did find a restaurant serving Apple Membrillo with Manchego Cheese instead of Quince Membrillo, this would almost certainly have been crab apples. Here and in the UK you would never find Crab Apples for sale, maybe you could have a go at making some jelly from the ones on sale to go with your cheese, it's very easy to make.

    2. Yeah,,,I think I could give it a go, why not?! x

  4. Sloes make the most beautiful wine. I have my grandfather's recipe and really look forward to years when they are plentiful enough to make it. Here in Wexford there are plenty of sloe bushes but most years the yield is quite low. I noticed this year looked promising.

  5. Thanks Grace, if there is a good crop next year I will give it a go,I always like to try new things.