Goodness me, I love a conker. I love their glowing colour, their shiny skin. I love it when they have half of their casing still attached, wearing it proudly like a spiky helmet. I love to gather them and then, mindfully roll one around my palm, grateful for the beauty of the Autumn.
And I love a conker at work too – in the last couple of years we have drilled them, painted them, fashioned them legs out of clay, strung them up, wove around them, squished them and raced them down hills. At home I want to try using them to make a laundry soap, an ethical alternative to soapnuts. I’m also told they are magic enough to frighten away spiders, but I have no time for that. I love a spider. But I do so so love a conker
I’ve gather a basketful to take to Beach School on Friday – where our participants will be able to drill them and thread them to their hearts content. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they create. Last year I presented the conkers pre-drilled, but I think our current crop of Beach Schoolers are up for a challenge. And what an incredible way to interact with nature and hone those developing fine motor skills.
However, as widely reported in the news – our conkers, our horse chestnut trees are under threat from a number of diseases. You may have seen some where the leaves have turned brown early or have under developed conkers. So it’s probably best not to gather conkers more conkers than we need or to gather them from places where they have the chance to grow in to new trees.
So I gather conkers from the following places:
- (Safely!) from pavements and roads, anywhere where they are likely to get squashed.
- From trees in managed parks where the Council is likely to just gather and throw away the conkers or heavily mown areas where any saplings would have no chance of survival
I do not gather conkers from woodlands. I’m also keen to support our horse chestnut population, by taking part Conker Tree Science’s citizen science project. They have some brilliant resources for teachers and educators too.
In the meantime, I’m going to gaze lovingly at my basket of conkers. Grateful for the Autumn, grateful for the seasons and grateful for magic nature brings us.
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