fieldfare enjoys bitter sloe garden hedgerow
That fieldfare is still enjoying the hedgerow sloes!

Now that Dobies is back in session post-Christmas, it’s been possible to check the website error, that would not allow me to post the link to the remarkable ‘fruity’ hedgerow plants that would enhance any garden, whether in groups or on-the-edge. Here you are: the Hedgerow Collection – and should you have been irritated at not being able to check what was/is incorporated, take a look below right now at what is offered.

Three hazel, one crab apple, one cherry-plum and five sloes – ten plants for only £24.95! Wildlife will benefit from the early pollen provided by hazel catkins – nuts for woodpeckers, nuthatches and squirrels. Crabs and cherry plums will entice thrush, blackbird, fieldfare and redwing, amongst others, whilst the bitter blue-black sloe will be saved until last, food for creatures in frosty weather.

Fat catkins crimson stigmas of the female 'shaving-brush'
Fat catkins whose pollen will fall onto the crimson stigmas of the female ‘shaving-brush’
flowers, resulting in fat tasty nuts, come Autumn

But why should wildlife be the only beneficiaries? How about us gardeners? Hazel nuts can be cracked and eaten fresh, pounded into a paste to fill cakes, or toasted in butter and sprinkled with salt for a pre-evening treat. Crabs can be ‘roasted’ around a joint of pork (or as in Shakespeare’s time, warmed over an open fire to “hiss in the bowl”); they can be made into jelly or dried for a picnic snack. The cherry plum flowers early – nectar for bees – and can by made into a subtly-flavoured jam in early autumn; use equal quantities by weight of washed fruit and sugar, a wetting of water, and cook as for all wild jams. As for the sloe, fruit of the blackthorn; it’s best to steep it in gin with half its weight in sugar for a spiritous liqueur; the longer it’s left, the sweeter (and more alcoholic!) it will become. Prick the washed sloes before steeping – Irish recipes advocate the use of a sharp thorn obtained from the blackthorn itself.

This extra post is offered to alleviate any irritation caused by the lack of a website link on Christmas Day – it’s infuriating when a site goes down and there is no means of instant rectification. Our apologies. 

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