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Haws and sloes

The very of notion of England's hedegrows is one I find somewhat nostalgic despite never having actually set foot on old Blighty. Most likely it stems from stories I read as a child of  quiet country lanes lined with hedgerows :: the setting for many Famous Five adventures. You know, the ones sustained by hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, treacle tart with a jug of cream and bottles of ginger beer.

Although clearly not a new thing, over recent years there has been a huge surge of interest in foraging in the hedgerows, with books and courses readily available detailing on how to find food for free. I love the idea of it and it's something I imagine must be fun.

Tasmania boasts a few hedgerows, most notably in the state's north, where the back roads are lined with immaculately kept hawthorn hedges.  

My valley, however, is not so particular with maintaining its hedges.  The hawthorn hedges, probably planted widely when the valley was first settled, are now neglected, straggly remnants of some long dead colonial's dream of recreating a little England at the end of the earth.

There is however, one lush, if not overgrown hawthorn hedge around here.  It's one I notice often as it sits in front of an old ruined building that I love.  This sweet old ruin, once a shop, is unique for its decorative columns, the only building to feature this style in the valley.

So today as I was driving past, I noticed large purple berries amongst the hawthorn.  I screeched on the brakes, braved the wind and lashing rain to take a closer look.  Sloes! Lots and lots of sloes growing amidst the hawthorn. I was so excited, I raced the children home from school, whipped up a batch of one of Pip's baked risotto recipes, (because we are all busy), and grabbed my secateurs, baskets, and gloves and screeched back to forage for myself.

I pruned the branches heavy with fruit and chucked them into the back of the car.  Whilst I was there, I thought I might as well grab some haws, those red berries that grow on the hawthorn. I will make a jelly with those.

So sloes.  What are they? A completely inedible tiny dark purple plum that makes the most wonderful gin.  Sloe gin.  I now have enough sloes to make quite a big batch of gin. Utterly delicious. 

I can't help but wonder though, who was it that planted those sloes all those years ago? Was it the same person who built the shop with stylish columns? That is much more intriguing than any Famous Five mystery.  

Thank you who ever you were, you totally made my day.


  1. Aiiiiii! I love, love, love sloe gin. Are there any more sloes? Can you whisper in my ear where they are to be found? I promise I won't tell!!

  2. Hi Elizabeth! The sloes are just past Huonville PS on the left as you head towards Ranelagh. There's plenty there!

  3. Sloes make the most amazing cordial with lemons as well. You can throw in some haws to the mix as well if you like. Check my blog for recipes.

  4. I love the old buildings and oust houses as you head out to Ranalagh,just gorgeous!

  5. To say I would love the old shop complete with sloes and haws (which seems a little like a rampant slur when I say it aloud) is an understatement. We are just about to go blackberrying this weekend and think we might pull up and sample a few haws too! (You are so right the hedges are magnificent up this way).

  6. Hello,

    I am a Journalism student from Sydney and am looking at writing a feature story on women just like you who lead a creative life and blog about it. I am focusing on stay at home mothers with young children who have gotten in touch with their creative side through blogging. I would love it if you would possibly let me interview you. I absolutley love your blog and envy your lifestyle. Please let me know your thoughts.

    I do not have an account so I will check back here for your response.

    Your help is much appreciated.

    Kind regards,


  7. Hi Katie send me an email
    leocrawford at bigpond dot com

  8. Thanks Michelle. I have sent through an email with some questions. Would be great if you could get back to me. If you haven't received it, my email is Thanks :)

  9. Hi Michelle. We just discovered Sloes in the form of delicious jelly at the Evandale markets yesterday. Mum (visiting from W.A.)wants to collect some as the man selling the jelly had some sloes on a branch to show people so they must be in season now. We are going hunting today to see if we cant find some sloes in the 'wild' in one of those 'immaculately pruned' hedges (probably Longford way?) that you speak of! Just discovered your lovely blog and have bookmarked it for future reference and followings sake :o). Hubby and I are trying to do the same as you by creating a home in rural Tasmania and undertaking our diplomas in Horticulture at the same time (good mix!). Thanks for this post and the incentive to drive to Longford to look for sloes!

  10. Just found your site. I am looking to buy sloes to make sloe gin. (I'm a pom from Yorkshire and have always made my own !) I live near Kiama in NSW. Can you point me to someone who could supply me ? Kind regards Jim Heaton