The berries are here. Ever since the first week in August, the rowans have been blazing away with bouquets of red berries, followed shortly after by fuzzy red strings of hawthorn on every hedge. I have been gathering berries here and there for the past few weeks, and although most of the rowans have now been gobbled down by blackbirds (and hopefully black grouse), other species are ripening and readying themselves every day. I ultimately hope to grow trees with them in the spring, but the first step has been to extract the seeds and dry them off.
As I drove into Dumfries today, aching elderberry heads loomed in from the hedgerow beside the road, and I gathered in a handful without causing too much mayhem in the gradual flow of traffic. They were very fragile little things, bursting with sweet juice and containing three tiny pips apiece.
Hawthorns are not hard to find, and three hundred yards further down the road, I stopped again to snap a dozen or so more red berries from a groaning branch which lay out over the verge. I have been collecting odd hawthorns here and there from across the county so that they will have some good genetic diversity when the time comes for them to pollinate one another.
Rowans too were easy to come by, and I have around twenty tiny little chocolate brown seeds to sow in the spring, along with those from a few orange berries which were found in the carpark of Currys in Dumfries last month. Sloes were found growing in huge numbers by the side of the road as I was coming home today, and it didn’t take long to gather thirty purple spheres from amongst the long spiky twigs. The stones inside were huge, the flesh being only a small percentage of the overall volume, and now all of the above are drying out on a radiator before they are stashed in an airtight container over the winter.
Like so many things to do with this project, it’s probably more hastle to gather my own berries and sow their seeds than it would be to order them in bulk from a tree nursery, but getting hands on experience is a great way to learn about native trees. Now all I need to do is work out how to extract seeds from scots pine cones…