Country Diary: Unusual bush bore berries like beads

Twinberry honeysuckle
Twinberry honeysuckle

Poppies and corn seem inseparable – their scarlet and dusty-yellow colours denoting high summer. The Romans depicted their crop goddess Ceres, with a bunch of corn and poppies in one hand, and a lighted torch in the other. This year, the Wolds reveal an increase in field poppies, and along the verges of country lanes.

Brambles are rapidly gaining ground. Their arching, biennial stems root where they touch the ground, and bear prickly, pinnate leaves. Now, their white or pink flowers abound, and with any luck, there should be a good crop of blackberries this August. It doesn’t seem long since last year’s harvest, and I’m usually nibbling a few when the children’s school holidays begin!

With Michael on holiday in the Dales, I enjoyed quality time gardening; watering those thirsty vegetables and flower borders; applying linseed oil to two memorial seats, and ensuring Tigga took me for three good walks each day. We met so many dog-owners, it was interesting comparing their habits.

Well, another season has gone by,and we haven’t heard a single cuckoo, have you? My fondest memory of a cuckoo was in the 1960s, when I lived in the little village of Wingrave. The back garden was mainly used for the cultivation of vegetables – and inadvertently cabbage white butterflies! Caterpillars abounded, and leaves were shredded to skeletons. Sitting on the garden fence, on a daily basis, was a male cuckoo. He couldn’t have led an easier life, snatching our caterpillars and returning for more. What views we enjoyed from the window.

The song thrush used to be a familiar garden bird, but has undergone a massive decline in many places. It was once more numerous than the blackbird, but not any more.

Sometimes we’d discover a thrush’s ‘anvil’, the site where snail shells were broken against a stone or a concrete garden path.

The thrush could then gain access to the soft, nutritious body inside. This spring it’s been a joy to hear two 
song thrushes singing nearby, from early morning until evening. Each song phrase of two of three syllables, is always repeated two to four times.

Last year it was the chiffchaff maintained its monotonous call of ‘chiff-chaff,’ throughout the day, but this time it hasn’t persisted for so long!

An evening stroll from Scarborough Castle down to Hairy Bob’s Cave, and the Skateboard Park was most rewarding. Martin was able to photograph the handsome viper’s bugloss, along with orchids, yellow rattle, and a host of wild flowers.

Whilst returning up the footpath, what should we espy but a most unusual bush? Although its leaves bore a resemblance to those of honeysuckle, its flowers looked artificial. The petals were deep red, waxy-looking and formed an open cup. In the centre gleamed two black berries, like beads.

Thanks to the expertise of Manor Road Nursery, it was identified as twinberry honeysuckle.