Hedgerow Wayfarer Berries

Various stages of development and ripening of the berries borne by the Wayfarer or Wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana) seen in hedgerows around the village, notably in Olympic Park and the CD Nature Reserve – although they are rapidly stripped by the birds.

Hedgerow Hawthorn Berries

Hawthorn berries or haws (Crataegus monogyna) are so common in the local Charlton Down hedgerows that I almost forgot to mention them.

Hedgerow Bryony Berries

I love the way that bright juicy Bryony berries are festooning the hedgerows. I am not certain whether they are White Bryony (Bryonia dioica) or Black Bryony (Tamus communis) because the leaves have mostly shrivelled away. I tend to think these are Black bryony from what is left of the foliage. I particularly like it when the fruit is carried on the looping strands of the dying vines so that they look like necklaces or fairy lights in the hedges.

Hedgerow Ivy Flowers

One of the most abundant sources of nectar and pollen at the moment – when most of our common wild flowering plants are already producing seeds, berries, and nuts – ivy is in full flower attracting clouds of bees, hover flies, and other winged pollinators.

Numerous pollinating insects on ivy flowers

Hedgerow Guelder-Rose Berries

Guelder-rose (Viburnum opulus) is not as common as Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Elder, and Dog Rose in the hedgerows and copses around our village of Charlton Down, but it has beautiful flowers in Spring and luscious red berries in Autumn. The best example of Guelder Rose can be found in the trees and bushes bordering the area of grassland that I have previously referred to as The Meadow: this is a triangular piece of land down the slope from Rowan Walk, and near the path that passes north and upwards to the barn on the crest of the hill as you walk to Forston Grange. Guelder-rose also grows in the hedge separating the Community Orchard from the road. The berries in the pictures are not quite ripe yet, still a bit orange in colour (24 August 2021) but should be ripe and a deep translucent red by now or pretty soon.

Hedgerow Elderberries

Elderberries are also common in the Dorset hedgerows. The Elder shrub or tree provides flowers in spring for cordials and elderflower wine or ‘champagne’. In July and August the berries start to form and change from green, through red. They ripen to black in autumn. The berries are popular with birds so not all bushes are laden around Charlton Down but, here and there, they are laden and ripe for picking and making wine, jam, or syrup. There are lots of recipes on-line.

Hedgerow Sloes

Sloes, the fruits of the Blackthorn, are ripening in the hedgerows around Charlton Down. They resemble small grapes or damsons. They look delicious but they seem to be used mostly for flavouring gin.

Hedgerow Blackberries

There are loads of blackberries in the hedgerows around the village right now, but most of them aren’t ripe yet – just one or two shiny black and juicy.

Hedgerow Rosehips

Rosehips are the fruits of the Dog Rose which grows in the hedgerows near Charlton Down in Dorset. These were photographed 3 September 2021.

Hawthorn Flowers

Hawthorn is ubiquitous with the English countryside, particularly in hedgerows. It flowers later than the blackthorn and can look equally spectacular as the blossoms thickly cover long curving branches of the last year’s growth. David Hockney famously painted a series of works featuring springtime hawthorn wreathing the hedges that line rural roads in Yorkshire (Hawthorne blossom near Rudston). However, it doesn’t blossom if the hedges are cut back over the winter months. Locally this means that this year is not as good as last year for these small white flowers, sometimes tinged pink, which provide sustenance for so many insects, and indirectly for the birds. And subsequently this coming autumn there will be fewer berries to feed the wildlife too. It is just a fact of country life that hedges need to be trimmed to keep the growth thick near the base so that they are effective barriers, and visibility is not obstructed for motorists.