Category: Trees

Autumn Arrives in London

Tulip Tree Leaf, photo by PH Morton

photo by PH Morton

Liriodendron tulipifera Aureomarginatum, commonly known as Tulip Tree

Autumn Arrives in London

As our summer season ends and so autumn arrives in London and Great Britain.

The word autumn has ancient roots alluding to the passing of the year. In the USA and some parts of the world this season  is called ‘the fall’.

This year, we have had mixed weather, from a wet and cold winter through a sunny and wet spring rolling into a sunny and wet summer.

We had two of the hottest days in September for over 100 years, with temperature reaching nearly 32C (89F).

Yes the British weather can still excite conversation among Brits. 😉

It is still quite mild with rain and sunshine and I can still wear a T shirt, without feeling cold. 🙂

The most common sign that autumn is approaching is when the leaves on deciduous trees. change colour from their spring and summer colour of green, to browns,yellows, reds and orange.
The leaves then soon after start to fall from their twigs and branches.

In autumn, some of the trees produce spectacular colour combinations of the above.

Deciduous is a Latin term meaning “falling off at maturity”

Leaves that fall off their tree branches in autumn are from the broad leaf type, having large areas to soak up the sun.

Trees that have these types of leaves need maximum food and energy to grow and produce fruit, such as apples, pears and berries etc.

These leaves have reached maturity by the end of summer using up the green chlorophyll pigment they contain to produce energy and food via photosynthesis for the tree in spring & summer.

As the daylight grows shorter with the arrival of the colder days of autumn and winter, the leaf receives decreasing amounts of  warm sunlight.

The leaf can no longer produce enough food for it’s tree, therefore it will trigger a kind of self destruct sequence.

As the temperature lowers, the leaves try and remain above freezing to provide nourishment to the tree until the last possible moment.

As the green pigment fades in the leaf, other pigments appear, which were masked by the dominant chlorophyll.

One pigment is carotenoids, which produce rich yellow, orange and brown colours, such as in carrots, banana peel, pumpkins.

Another pigment produced is called anthocyanins which are mainly red and purple.

As autumn progresses, the leaves become weaker, insects feed and worsening  weather take effect.

Within the stem of a leaf which is attached to it’s branch is the abscission layer, which chokes of the leaf veins that transfer water and food to the tree via the branch.

This further decays and weakens the leaf and stem, so the leaf becomes detached from it’s branch and so falls to the ground, it’s important work done.

Evergreen trees retain their leaves through cold freezing winter weather, because their smaller area leaves, some are needle shapes have a coating of a wax that helps protect them from the extreme cold.

autmn-leaves-in-london

Photo by PH Morton

Enjoy these wonderful seasonal colours and think of the sacrifice the leaf made to produce them.

Our Home Harvest 2016

one-of-our-potted-tomato-plants

Our Home Harvest 2016

 

When we were both still gainfully employed,  😉 it was hard to maintain our fairly long back garden, where the lawn must be mowed, the bushes regularly trimmed, the pond life fed, the garden furniture repaired, etc., the list went on.  We, therefore,  paved over parts of it, but still kept some smaller flower& plant beds and a good size lawn.

A good idea in any size garden is to use plant pots or troughs to grow plants, flowers and vegetables.

Some of the larger pots are fitted with small wheels (like castors) on the base.

some-of-our-newly-picked-tomatoes
This means that we can easily move large plants, such as the tomato plants, to follow the sun as it moves, to maximise exposure to the light and heat.

This spring, and as in previous years, Jean & I decided to try and grow some tomato plants in three of our large pots.  Tomatoes are quite inexpensive and plentifully sold in shops and supermarket during the summer, but growing your own has its own reward.  You can be sure of the freshness and they seem to taste better 🙂

 

one-of-our-small-apple-trees

 

This year’s weather has been mixed in London & SE England.

A rarely frozen and wet winter was followed by rain alternating with hot sunny days in summer, extending well into September. This combination has resulted in a nice crop of tomatoes. some have ripened and hopefully the others will soon as well.

Our two potted small apple trees have produced their ripe fruit nearly a month early this year.

They are ‘Jonagold’ apples, which are sweet and a little bitter to taste but simply delicious.

We found that If you have two potted apple trees, keep them near each other in order to get at least one good crop, this helps cross fertilisation from the bees etc.

We find each year that one tree produces more apples than the other.

However, this year both tree have a lot of apples, thanks to the weather.

our-pear-treeWe have one potted Conference variety pear tree, near the end of the garden, and as with the apple trees we also need to get another one as this lonely tree only produces a pair of pears each year.

Our wild blackberry bush has also produce a bounty of berries this year too!

We wonder if this year’s winter will be cold and wet again. Snow has not fallen to settle on the ground here in nearly the last two years, much to our grandson’s disappointment who is wishing of building a snowman in the garden!

Dalanghita Vs Dalandan

Dalanghita, photo by PH Morton

Dalanghita, photo by PH Morton

Dalanghita Vs Dalandan

Dalanghita is a Filipino word adapted from the Spanish naranjita, which mean small orange.  The scientific name for this dalanghita is Citrus Nobilis.

Dalanghita is really juicy, perfect for the often hot weather in the Philippines.

There is another variety of this citrus fruit which is called dalandan, scientific name is Citrus Aurantium.  

Most Filipinos would probably find it hard to tell a dalanghita from a dalandan.  These fruits are so similar, they can be often interchanged.  I supposed you can tell one of the other by their size and sometimes, the texture of their peels.

Dalanghita is small with smooth outer skin while dalandan is definitely bigger and has a thicker and pimply or pronounced pores.

Whiles growing up in Marag, we had a dalandan tree which grew so big in our side yard (garden).  During fruiting season, the citrus tree was laden with fruits that the lower branches touched the ground.

It was a joy to eat the fruits straight from the tree.  When it is still young, it can be sour and that is when we had to eat it with a bit of salt.  But when it is ripe, it is so refreshingly sweet.

Our tree was much admired by the whole neighbourhood of Marag.

Dalandan tree, courtesy of http://seventeeneightyfour.blogspot.co.uk/

Dalandan tree, courtesy of http://seventeeneightyfour.blogspot.co.uk/

Bay tree, Laurel, Lurus Nobilis

sam's birthday 017 Bay Tree in our garden, Photo by JMorton

A bay tree is an evergreen tree, thank God for that as bay trees provide the bay leaves or laurel necessary for many a recipe.

Bay leaves may be used fresh or dried, which has a stronger flavour.

I love them in stews or when I am doing mechados.

In ancient times, the bay leaves were threaded together to make a laurel wreathes to crown outstanding poets and victorious soldiers.

Pili Nut Brittle ~Recipe~

Pili Nut brittle, photo by JMorton

Pili Nut brittle, photo by JMorton

In my opinion, Pili nut is the king or queen of all nuts.  Its taste is something that you will appreciate.  It is delicious, it is actually indescribable.  It is buttery and floury with its clean nuttiness, if that make sense! 🙂  Once you have tasted it, it is almost impossible not to be hooked.

We were in Bicol when I had my first taste of pili nuts courtesy of my extraordinarily generous, angelic sister, Marilou.  She said it was delicious and it was.

We bought jars of the pili nuts and loads of pili tarts.  I am afraid I did not really like the pili tarts.  I thought there were not enough pili nuts over a rather tough and chewy dough which doesn’t really taste much as it was rather bland.

Anyway, when I unpacked our luggage from the Philippines, I found a jar of the pili nut.  I tarted eating it while watching back-to-back episodes of The Good Wife.  Well I finished the jar before the second episode of this favourite show.  It was so good; you won’t stop at just a small handful.

It might be hard to get Pili nuts from just any shop because it is not widespreadly farmed just yet. Only the Philippines do it commercially.

Lance Catedral from Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines - pili nut

Lance Catedral from Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines – pili nut

Canarium ovatum, commonly known as pili, is a species of tropical tree belonging to the genus Canarium. It is one of approximately 600 species in the family Burseraceae. Pili are native to maritime Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia. They are commercially cultivated in the Philippines for their edible nuts. (Wikipedia)

If you happen to get lucky and find raw pili nuts, there is no better recipe to cook it with than as a Pili nut brittle.

Below is the recipe from http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Crispy-Pili

Pili Nut Brittle ~Recipe~

Pili, Photo by JMorton

Pili, Photo by JMorton

Ingredients

2 cups of raw pili nuts
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

Part 1
Prepare the Pili nuts

1. Boil water in a saucepan. Bring the water to a full boil.

2. Add the Pili nuts to the boiling water.

3. When the skin of the Pili nuts starts to peel off, stop the cooking process.

4. Remove all of the Pili from the water.

5. Peel the skins from the nuts.

Part 2
Cooking the Pili nuts

1. Add vegetable oil to a clean saucepan.

2. Add the Pili nuts.

3. Fry the Pili nuts. Be sure to constantly stir the nuts while frying.

4. Add sugar when the Pili nuts are golden brown.

5. Caramelize the sugar. Allow the caramelized sugar to coat the nuts.

6. Remove the Pili nuts from the heat. Be sure they’re coated in the caramelized sugar evenly and thoroughly!

Let is cool; caramelised sugar is dangerously hot.

Time to enjoy (and share?!!!)

Trees and Forest

Trees and Forest

Kew Garden, Photo by PH Morton

Kew Garden, Photo by PH Morton

 

Aren’t these trees beautiful?  Aren’t we lucky we have them?

We should look after them, the best we can.

Let’s say NO to deforestation; No to illegal logging!

Coconut trees

Coconuts in the mountain, photo by PH Morton

There are people who are scared of the thought and sight of trees and forests. Some have pathological fear. I do understand these in some ways. When I was very young, I tagged along with my father to go to our farm. As he was doing some farm and field chores, he told me to sit under the shade of a big Narra tree. Anyway, it was so quiet that day, all I can hear was the occasional sound of wind brushing through leaves of trees around me.

As I looked up, I suddenly got very frightened of the many coconut trees. I felt they were looking at me. For some reason, I felt rather claustrophobic surrounded by trees. How strange was that – being claustrophobic in the open?!!! Probably there is another word similar to claustrophobic but that is how it felt. Luckily the experience was a one off. I love trees, I love forests as well though I find them mysterious.

I love nothing than watching horror films with a forest/woods theme. 🙂

Did you know?

Fear of trees and forest are very real, in fact, there are some official phobia terms allotted to them.

Dendrophobia comes from two Greek words, Dendro for tree and phobia, of course, is fear.

Xylophobia
is the fear of wooden objects or woods. Xylo is a Greek word for wood and phobia as before is fear.

Hylophobia is the fear of woods and can be of materialism as well. Hylo comes from the Greek for forest.

Autumn Foretold

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who sith: ‘A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all nor be afraid!’
– Robert Browning

Today, being the 1st September means, in the UK, autumn is just around the corner as we would normally say; tree leaves coloration begins to show autumn as being foretold!

With climate changes our summer sometimes lasts longer with September & October, traditional autumn months, are still quite warm and sunny, (we call this having an Indian summer) so the autumnal changes we see can be delayed.

This late afternoon Jean & I were walking home from Golders Green (NW London), it is a pleasant 15-20 minute walk for us, for a bit of exercise 😉

Ever vigilant for good photo opportunities, Jean noticed one tree that had a few leaves turning autumnal colours among the verdant green of the remaining leaves making quite a contrast. I had brought my trusty camera with me and so I took a few shots.

Autumn Foretold

autumn foretold

Autumn Foretold by PH Morton

Autumn Foretold by PH Morton

As I guess most school pupils learn in science or biology/botany lessons, the reason for the dramatic change in deciduous tree leaves are due to the approach of winter.
in order for the trees to survive the long cold dark winter months they must almost hibernate and cease using energy on green leaf production and the sun light needed to produce the trees sustenance via photosynthesis will be in short supply.

A leaf contains an abundance of chlorophyll.

Trying not to bore any dear reader;)

There large amount of chlorophyll in an active leaf masks the other pigment colours. Light regulates chlorophyll production, so as autumn days grow shorter, less chlorophyll is produced. As As chlorophyll amounts start to decline, so the green colour starts to fade from leaves.

Within the leaf, There is as surge of sugar concentrations cause increased production of anthocyanin pigments. Leaves containing primarily anthocyanins will appear red. Carotenoids are another class of pigments found in some leaves. Carotenoid production is not dependent on light, so levels aren’t diminished by shorter days. Carotenoids can have colours of orange, yellow, or red, but most of these pigments found in leaves are yellow. Leaves with good amounts of both anthocyanins and carotenoids will appear orange. tannins in a leaf are responsible for the brownish color of some oak leaves.

Jackfruit – Langka

Jackfruit scientific name is  Artocarpus heterophyllus

 

When I was a little girl growing in Marag, I got introduced to the baby jackfruits, they are the size no bigger than cocktail sausages.  During a recess, we went to the nearby woods and got ourselves baby jackfruits.  It did not really taste spectacular, it has a slight sweetness to it but probably as children, we just want something to chew. LOL
Anyway I was still eating my last baby jackfruit when the bell rung which meant recess was over.  In mid chew, my teacher called me to read something from the book.  I can’t really spit the fruit out of my mouth so with a gulf of air I just swallowed everything in one go which was a mistake.  I am sure I would have died if someone did not pat me in the back.  Yes baby jackfruit, best  with a bit of salt, should always be eaten nearby a glass or body of water because you could easily choke on it

 

I love jackfruits, especially the ripe ones.  The fruit could grow so big and it has these yellow pods encasing a seed inside.   After you have eaten a ripe jackfruit, everybody will know.  You will smell of it and your wee would also smell of it, at least the smell is not pungent of horrible.  It is quite sweet.

In the Philippines, we cook young jackfruits, not the baby ones, but the ones that a month into ripening.  We cook them with coconut milk and lots of large green chillies.

 

The seeds of the jackfruits are edible too.  Just boil in water for 25 minutes of saw and you have a nice nutty favour snack.

 

The Yew Tree

We have got a lovely yew tree in our front garden which we dress up with lights on Christmas. It is now about 8 feet tall and still growing.

But did you know that the yew tree has a not quite a nice superstition attached to it?!!!

Apparently if you bring in a yew (as part of a bundle of greenery for decoration) inside the house at Christmas, there will be a death in the family before the year out. It is also advised not to take yew inside the house because it is very unlucky!!!

Oh no, our yew tree is so beautiful to be a source of such malevolent superstition.

And all parts of the yew tree are poisonous, the hidden seeds inside the berries are extremely poisonous.

Our beautiful Christmas Yew Tree

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