discovery apple trees in orchard in late summer with crab apples on grass

Enjoying the Days of Late Summer

It’s late summer and every day is a little shorter than the previous one; a change that was almost imperceptible a month ago, is now noticeable. There seems a need to enjoy these summer days before they slip away. To notice the colours and the smells. To gather up all the fruit to preserve in sugar or vinegar. This is what late summer looks like at Slamseys this week.


Essex arable fields of wheat stubble and ploughed land in late summer

The dusty haze of high summer in the fields has been replaced by more earthy hues. The landscape changes field by field as the plough turns over the pale yellow wheat stubble to leave a rippled field of brown, scattered with white gulls that scavenge the furrows.  Standing on a late summer’s day breathing in the smell of freshly turned soil is a life affirming moment.

late summer artichoke
The bright colours of summer flowers are gradually being replaced by the washed-out colours of the developing seeds. In the fields, the seed heads push above the dying foliage and float away in the breeze though I don’t think these artichokes in the garden are likely to float off anywhere.


Crab apples growing on tree in late summer with colours picked out
The orchard is filling with colour as the fruit of each tree ripens; coral coloured crab apples on one tree and yellow on another; bright red Discovery apples contrast with the green leaves looking like a child’s naïve painting of an apple tree; Bramley apples slowly develop streaks of red, quite unlike the unripe green Bramleys in the supermarket.

Soon, we’ll be gathering up the crab apples to preserve for the winter and even use for a bit of printing. If you have a glut of crab apples, you might like read this post at Life in Mud Spattered Boots Take 3kg of Crab Apples.


Freshly picked late summer plums, damsons and greengages with colours picked out
In this bumper year for plums, it’s hard to keep up. The tiny yellow plums are just coming to the end and the deep violet coloured Czar plums hang forlornly as they’re ignored in favour of green orbs of deliciousness that are greengages. The damsons on the earliest tree are just ripening. How I long to be an artist who could capture the dusty blues and purples of damsons in a still life painting. Instead, I make damson jam and damson gin that might not be quite so romantic or permanent, but can be a powerful reminder of summer days in the depths of winter.

In late summer we are poised between the growing years. All the wheat is harvested though there is still barley to cut when it dries out enough. The wheat is in the co-operative store, from where it will be sent for milling into flour or used in animal feeds. The raspberries are slowly infusing the gin with their vivid pink colour and taste. Jars of jam and chutney line the pantry shelves. Courgettes in the garden are being ignored as they grow into mini zeppelins. The mobile seed cleaners have been at the farm today preparing the seed wheat for next year’s crop and before long that will be sown. And the growing cycle begins again.


Things to do with Crab Apples


18 thoughts on “Enjoying the Days of Late Summer

  1. A poor year for plums here in Gloucestershire Anne, a very late frost was probably the cause!
    Maybe next year will be better!

    1. I fear we may have a bumper crop of plums this year and none next year so I’m enjoying them while I can. Surprising how many colours there are, especially as at first glance I thought the artichokes were just boring brown.

  2. J & D > Greengages! Our experience has been that they are wonderful when eaten straight off the tree – especially if still warm from the sun. But cooking them kills the sweetness – and then they don’t compare favourably with most other plums. But then it is 20yrs or so since we had the pleasure of greengages at all, so it would be nice to give them another try – certainly fresh, but we’re willing to discover we may have been mistaken in how to cook them to best effect!

    1. I agree that they’re wonderful straight from the tree but they make excellent jam too. I’m trying out some greengage gin so I hope it won’t be disappointing.

  3. Beautiful pictures of late summer Anne, we spent a late summer holiday in your area a few years ago, the harvest was in full swing and the sun shone all week. Is it always like that?

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