Aesculus hippocastanum…

…is the Latin name for the horse chestnut tree. I always think of the horse chestnut as being a quintessential feature of the English countryside which I’ve loved since I was a kid when I’d climb them and hurl sticks up into them in September to harvest the conkers. Continuing on the spring theme I found this exploded cluster of leaf and flower shoots over a path in the middle of Histon and it seemed to sum up the excitement of heading into the summer sunshine months.

16 responses to “Aesculus hippocastanum…

  1. A beautiful photo! Did you ever varnish your conkers? There were all sorts of tricks to making a champion conker when I was wee.

  2. Never heard of the game–or the term–until now. I’m looking forward to finding out about what I was missing, lo, those many years ago!

    • It was the primary raison d’etre through September for generations of small boys in this country going back several hundred years. I’ll endeavour to enlighten you later on during the conker season.

  3. I’m told that we have some horse chestnut trees down the street from my work. I haven’t looked them up for myself, but I brought one of the “conkers” back to work one day and one of my co-workers told me what it was. Interesting nuts. 🙂

    • Hello Scott, are your trees old ones? If they are, come the autumn take a step back and have a good look at them, they’re enormous and just beautiful trees. As I said in my comment to Gary at Krikitarts here, there is a whole lore of ‘conkers’ in England which I’ll write about later in the year. They’re lovely things.

      • They are quite large, Finn…and I have admired them many times. What in particular should I be looking for in the autum? And yes, they are lovely trees. 🙂

      • Nothing specific, just the size and shape and the overall greenness, which all together are very distinctive.

      • Oh, ok…they are quite attractive…provide much shade…and have pretty flowers in the spring, as well.

      • Oh dear Scott, you seem a tad underwhelmed! I guess they don’t have the same iconic status in the U.S. as they do in England 😉

      • In truth, Finn…I have only recently declined from my being OVERWHELMED with all the beautiful trees and flowers and mountains and clouds canyons, etc…that were all so foreign to me before moving here to Salt Lake City…. 🙂

        So, let me rephrase for you… HOT DAMN Finn…what a beautiful tree…I can’t wait for Fall to get here!!! Thank you, my friend. 🙂

  4. There is so much to see in this image, all packed at the end of one branch. Such wonderful colors, textures, shapes… Really beautiful!

    • Thanks Melanie, that’s what struck me about it. The sky was totally cloud filled, but at the same time very bright, so I had to manouevre around the subject to get something dark behind and then it was difficult to get the exposure right. But I like this and I like the tree trunk with its penumbra in the background.

  5. Finn, this re-opens such memories for me! I was very fortunate to attend a grade school (K-6) that was housed in buildings that Henry Ford had collected from around the world. One of the buildings in his open-air museum was a smithy, complete with an enormous horse-chestnut tree (Longfellow: “Under the spreading chestnut tree the villags smithy stands…”), and at an early age I fell in love with the amazingly smooth and richly-colored surfaces of the mature chestnuts and the prickly nature of the outer covering (what you call the conkers). Thanks for the vivid flashback!

    • Hello Gary, the shell of a new conker fresh out of the case, when it’s still moist is like the richest mahogany, I can see why you loved them, they are beautiful things. Did you play ‘conkers‘ with them? When I was a kid we all looked forward to the few short weeks of the conker season when bruised wrists, even more bruised egos, and a champion conker that shattered allcomers were signs of an autumn well spent. I’ll post in detail about the king of sports that is conkers later in the year.

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