If you are planning a cottage holiday
in Wales for the month of August, why not try and spot the following:
Top Row - From Left to Right
1. Mountain Ash (or Rowan) Sorbus aucuparia
Nothing characterises the Welsh hills better than a mountain ash,
laden with bright red berries, set against a backdrop of sheep
grazed hills. The ancient Celtic clans called her affectionately
“The Lady of the Mountain”. Many legends and myths
are associated with tree and many churchyards in Wales still include
the tree, not unlike the Yew tree in English churchyards. The
berries were much used by the Celts for brewing wine, spirit,
flavouring mead, ale, perry and cider. Today, they are used mostly
in Rowan Jelly. The mountain ash is a relative of fruit-bearing
trees like the pear, crab-apple and whitebeam, all members of
the order Rosaceae. It has a reputation as one of the most potent
magical trees with a history that would leave many a larger tree
in its shadow. This is the species that the ancient Celts called
Fid nan druad, the wizard’s tree......
2. Charm of Goldfinches Carduelis carduelis
Undoubtedly one of the most delightful sights at Plas
Farm during August is that of a charm of goldfinches, flitting
through the swaying thistleheads, filling the air with liquid
twittering. These beautiful birds are one of the most colourful
native British birds. They love the sheltered mountain slopes
behind the holiday cottages and may be located easily at this
time of year.
3. Knapweed Centaurea nigra
It has been said that if the month of August has a natural
colour, it is purple. Certainly, many of the mountains around
the farm become a blaze of purple as the heather begins to flower.
Not wanting to be left out, the delightful Knapweed appears in
the grazed meadows on the hillside behind the holiday cottages.
Knapweed is important as it is a favourite foodplant of many types
Row - From Left to Right
4. Hazelnuts Corylus avellana
Hazel trees can be found almost everywhere in Wales.
There is one tree on the river bank outside Y
Stabl holiday cottage and many others dotted about the farm.
The nuts can be harvested and are delicious eaten fresh. You will
need some stones to break into them though!
5. The Swansea Valley from Plas Farm
This picture shows a berry laden mountain ash in the foreground
set against a backdrop of the western slopes of the Swansea Valley,
between Pontardawe and Ynysmeudwy.
6. Hen of the Woods Grifola
According to one 'mushrooming' website ".....one
last treat awaits the forager. One last BIG treat because, if you're
lucky, you may find a fruiting of Hen of the Woods as big as forty
or fifty pounds." Well, this was taken outside Bwthyn
Y Saer holiday cottage, at the foot of the huge beech tree.
Nobody has dared to eat it yet but it seems that some people do.
Here is a recipe!
Bottom Row - From Left to
7. Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) on Red Clover
I chose this picture for the gallery because it had so
much in it. Firstly, there is the small copper butterfly. The small
copper is usually seen in ones and twos. Males are territorial,
often choosing a piece of bare ground or a stone on which to bask
and await passing females. They behave aggressively towards any
passing insects, returning to the same spot when the chase is over.
Though it remains a widespread species, the small copper has declined
throughout its range during the twentieth century. In the picture,
it is feeding from red clover alongside which a magpie's feather
9. Crab Apples Malus sylvestris
The crab apple, like the hazel and rowan, is a typical feature of
the south Walian countryside. The attractive small fruit are extremely
sour but make good jelly by themselves or with blackberries or rowan
berries. Crab Apple wine is also very good albeit thunderously potent.
In former times they were cultivated for animal fodder, especially
for pigs, and some extant trees may have originated from this practice.
It may be that before orchard apples were perfected, wild crab apples
were grown for food or cider making.
9. August Sunset
Although the warmest days of the year are most likely to
happen during August at Plas Farm, it also has a history of being
a bit wetter than other summer months. This does have its good points
though - the sunsets can be very dramatic with varying shades of
grey, orange and salmon filling the skies above the holiday cottages.
The waterfalls are always good after a drop of liquid sunshine too!