Tuesday, 9 September 2008
A muddy rain-sodden walk in the woods on Saturday afternoon revealed exciting discoveries on the margins. Wakerley Great Wood, seven miles south west of Stamford, is a rich mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees that conceal a number of steep-sided dips in the ground called 'swallow holes' where the limestone crust under the soil has collapsed. These were of course of great fascination to my boys, who crashed about in the undergrowth with big sticks in order to lay claim to them as I knelt trying to focus the camera on oozing clumps of bright red berries. Researches have been carried-out in the Ashley Towers Library, and the most likely creator of the eyeball-popping display shown here is the honeysuckle. I simply had no idea that such a headily-scented plant could suddenly produce fruit like this in the autumn. For botanists and gardening buffs I believe it to be Lonicera periclymenum, and certainly you wouldn't want to eat it unless you fancied a few days in casualty. I hope I've got this right and it doesn't just kill you outright if you look at it for too long, but I'm more certain about it than I was about that horror film fungus creeping out of the ash tree.