While Bruce was learning a bit of forestry during the Cider Pressing Weekend, I took off wandering around the farm to see what I could find. It wasn’t a gorgeous day, but I had a gorgeous time exploring. At least with the lack of sun my photos aren’t all washed out. First, it has to be said that I am not an expert in identifying flowers, trees, insects, animals, or anything similar and I am a beginner in photography. I do enjoy seeing what new things I can find in the garden and I enjoy photographing them and this blog is a record of what we discover on our farm. I am a student and the farm is my classroom. And maybe somewhere along the way, I’ll improve in my photography and identification skills. They certainly can’t get any worse…I hope.
The first odd thing I came across was purple mushrooms. They are white on the outside with purple gills and purple inside. I looked at hundreds of mushroom photos on-line and found some that were close, but none of them have the purple interior. I’m thinking that perhaps it turned purple from exposure to the air. At any rate, they are pretty, but look poisonous to me. I did learn, in my mushroom study, that I need to do more than take a photo. I need to take note of characteristics, such as the shape and color and if it has gills and a stem and that I should take a spore sample. Okay. Well, I didn’t think I would ever want to eat any mushrooms I found, so I never bought a book on identifying them. After looking at those hundreds of mushroom photos, I found some that are pretty darn interesting and am rethinking that book purchase. I’m still not going to eat them!
I found another mushroom on the opposite side of the pond from the purple one, and I think it’s some sort of truffle–which is totally a guess. The website I looked at had several categories of mushrooms and the one I found only fit into the truffle category. Hmmm…I thought truffles were underground and needed to be dug up by pigs. Maybe only the expensive, French kind.
In our pine forest/farm the roses and blackberries grow wild. This time of year the roses are full of rose hips. The bright red contrasting with the bright green is beautiful. I have a new, untested book called, Foraged Flavor by Tama Matsuoka Wong with a recipe for Wild Rose Petal Jam which I think would be interesting to make. But, also, I think there is something that can be made with the rose hips. I’ll have to look into that.
One oddity on the rose bushes was a fuzzy, brown growth. It appears to be Mossy Rose Gall and it’s caused by the cynipid wasp larva. The wasp causes the plant to change the course of its normal growth. The gall provides protection for the wasp and a source of food. It doesn’t injure the plant and there isn’t any effective treatment or prevention.
I didn’t expect to find any wildflowers, since it was almost November and the weather was cool and overcast, but I did find some hardy souls here and there. I searched and searched my books and on-line but couldn’t identify any of them. Once again, I learned that you have to do more than take a photo. I found a handy checklist on-line that I need to take with me on wildflower walks so I’ll remember to check out more than the color and shape. If I live long enough I may figure this out.
Correction: Between writing this post and posting it I think I’ve discovered what the blue flower is. It seems to be in the Lamiaceae or Mint Family. I’ll have to pick some and smell it next time I’m on the farm for verification. (Edit: 2/22/2015; The blue-flowered plant is Mentha pulegium or Pennyroyal.)
What else? We were there in time to see the changing colors of the leaves–apple, persimmon, mulberry and maple in particular. Most of our farm is planted with pine trees so the splashes of oranges, yellows and reds against the green made for a spectacular display.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”