Always ready to add to my ever increasing hoard of countryside paraphernalia, I found this little gem which belonged to my grandmother, whilst trawling through a box of family photographs. I did giggle at the thought of a book entitled ‘The Young Naturalist Series’ belonging to Grandmamma as she was notorious for her love of town and hated all things flora or fauna, muddy or farmyard. She didn’t even enjoy her own garden! ‘A Useful book’ as it describes itself with some beautiful illustrations and useful descriptions of all manner of flora which might just serve me well. Jerry has been quite concerned that my new interest in foraging could lead to us all being poisoned so the book was a welcome find!
Well I soon found myself knee-deep in countryside plant wisdom and even found some titbits of countryside trivia to share with you this week.
Now you probably already know that there are two types of chestnut tree – Sweet Chestnuts and Horse Chestnuts. I have to profess that I didn’t. A walk in Richmond Park had yielded a bumper forage of what I thought where edible conkers. It turns out that…..
Conkers come from Horse Chestnut trees and are not considered edible to humans. However, they make an excellent tea time treat for deer and cattle. You would think horses too given the name of the tree but apparently not! Apart from anything else, conkers have been the talk of a good many school playgrounds in autumn for centuries. I was particularly keen to train Primrose and hone her conker ‘battle’ skills until I was promptly reminded of the ridiculous health and safety rules preventing playgrounds from allowing children to hold conker championships. A conker in the eye never hurt anyone. (Soak them in vinegar if you want undefeatable conkers). Moving on, I also found out (courtesy of the National Trust quarterly magazine) that if you place some conkers in the corner of a room in autumn then it is said to keep spiders away.
I would have gleefully roasted my gathered booty in the woodburner had it not been for a quick glance at my ‘Young Naturalist’s’ guide. My chestnut roaster will have to wait now until the delightful greengrocer down the road has the shiny edible beauties in stock. However, I might just give that old wives’ tale a go and see if I can rid the cottage of spiders. Worth a try!