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A Week on the Estate: Pea Harvest, Enrichment Hour & Silky Rosegill

With the harvest well underway, we experienced another decisive change in the weather this week, with plenty of rain, a welcome 10C drop in temperature and the first intimations of autumn.

Harvest-time can mean long working days. The pea harvest got underway, with the first load coming off the field at 8.30pm on Tuesday. The viners worked through the night to finish the field then moved on to their next batch.

Closer to home, Jacqui Rhodes washed, blanched and froze a more modest crop of peas from the Walled Garden, leaving a few for tea. Having given us a fine yield this summer, the garden’s cherry trees were given a trim in preparation for winter.

Elsewhere on the estate, Steve and the team from Ketsby Sawmill benefitted from cooler weather as they installed traditional Lincolnshire fencing at Sheepdip Paddock.  A repaired section of metal fencing received a smart coat of black paint thanks to Melton’s.

Another couple of good jobs were tackled by the Saturday Club. Numerous old and broken ceramic drainage pipes were cleared away and stacked neatly on pallets for disposal. The Club also helped the estate to get ready for autumn by trimming the new shoots on Lime Tree Avenue.

Between tasks, the Saturday Club enjoyed a wonderful enrichment hour thanks to Margot Chilton of Alford Wildlife Trust. They got up-close and personal with bugs, caterpillars, spiders, snails, woodlice, plants and a feather using bug boxes and eye lenses. They had fun and learned plenty about the wonderful world we live in.

We’re grateful to Sam Shores, one of our Facebook followers, for identifying the large and beautiful fungi sported by one our old horse chestnut trees. They appear to belong to the species Volvariella bombycine, variously known as silky rosegill, silky sheath or tree mushroom.

Globally widespread but seldom seen, this fungus plants its fruiting bodies in knotholes or scars on the trunks of trees, generally favouring maples and elms. Noted for its large caps and the silken texture caused by its fine hairs, the silky rosegill is thought to have useful antibacterial properties as well as being good to eat – although nobody should contemplate eating wild mushrooms without real expertise. This ornate fungal visitor is a positive sign of improving biodiversity on the estate.