Saturday 5 September 2015

Fruitful Promise

Summer in Milton Country Park is a time of little outward change. The trees and bushes which dominate the landscape of the park seem to be unaltered for months, with only the green of the leaves becoming tired and losing its spring freshness. However, on closer inspection, the fruit which will make such a spectacular contribution to the autumn display is steadily growing.

Ripening Blackberries
Path by Wetlands - 2 August 2015

A Sprint From Flower to Fruit

Prior to looking through my photographs for this post, I had not realised how much the time it takes fruit to develop from the flower varies.  Some of the latest flowering bushes are among the first to fruit.

It seems the blackberry had barely lost its petals, before fully formed fruit was visible, some of which was already turning red.  Apparently the time for a blackberry from petal to fruit averages just 45 days.  The image above backs this up, as I photographed this bush, in bloom, on the 29th June. 

Ripening Elderflowers
South of Park - 4 August 2015
Another late flowering bush with early ripening fruit is the elder.  Not quite as fast as the blackberry, but the bush pictured above was in flower in mid June. 

In the Slow Lane

In contrast, the fruit of some of the earliest flowering trees and bushes is amongst the last the ripen.

Unripe Cherry Plums
By Fen Road Exit - 26 July 2015
The cherry plum is the earliest of all the fruit blossom.  Here, three months after flowering in March, the fruit is all green.

Unripe hawthorn berries
Southern End of Park - 31 July 2015
Similarly, the hawthorn berries show no sign of ripening.  I don't know if it is just the size of fruit, but the hawthorn berries appear to be a lot sparser than the cherry plums.  Yet both bushes had masses of confluent blossom.

Bunch of three unripe apples on a bough
By Fen Road Exit - 26 July 2015
These apples at least show some signs of ripening.

It is interesting to speculate as to what evolutionary selection pressures have led to the late flower - early fruit, and the early flower - late fruit strategies.


Bunch of hazelnuts on bush
By Fen Road Exit - 23 July 2015

In literature, hazelnuts are an essential part of the English countryside. Yet, until I started this project, my only contact with these nuts was with the pre-packed variety to be found on supermarket shelves. This may have something to do with my upbringing in the treeless fens of northern Cambridgeshire. My wife called these cobnuts, which is apparently the name for a variety of cultivated hazelnuts.

NEXT:  Bridges

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