We are lucky to have a horse chestnut tree in our garden, and in the past week it has begun to throw its prickly green and brown grenades at the ground below.
The gnarled, weathered and rather hostile shape of these cases belies the tender delights within. With a little pressure, the husks readily spring open to reveal their treasure, the highly polished jewel of brown which rests in a soft bed of creamy satin within.
This fruit is truly a work of art.
We don’t have any small boys close at hand to donate our growing hoard to, instead my husband brings them in rather proudly for me when he comes upon them down the garden, and I couldn’t resist collecting a handful myself, although they quickly lose their shine brought into the house.
I can’t help but compare the horse chestnut to its cousin, the sweet chestnut, and muse upon their differences – especially that the one with the more attractive and easily-handled case and the shiniest, most beautiful, fruit inside is the inedible fruit, while the sweet chestnut, so delicious roasted, pales by comparison with its wan and flat coat. I haven’t seen any sweet chestnut trees growing in this part of the world, but an immense chestnut tree towered over the garden where I grew up – the more densely spiked cases hiding within the leaf litter long after autumn dropped its feast, ready to catch the unwary hand or bicycle tyre.
A forest of mushrooms has also sprung up unbidden in our garden, in the long grass alongside a discarded drainpipe. They range in colour from milky white, to beige and deeper brown, with a slightly pointed cap.
I have learned my lesson (for the time being) from our close encounter with the yellow stainer in the field, and have no intention of trying to eat these, but wonder what kind of mushroom they are. Does anybody recognise them?