29 Apr 2013

It's all bloomin' lovely!

I've spent the weekend sowing seeds and heaving out weeds.  I was in the garden by 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, appreciating the stillness and warm sun on my back.  It felt really good to be outside without a  woolly hat and warm coat, reconnecting with the garden and taking the time to really take stock of what was going on.

Fruit tree border 28 April
After the big Weed Out: 16.5 square metres of weed free tidiness, ready for planting.
Mostly it was a case of clearing the weeds (Hairy Bittercress and Chickweed) from the fruit tree border - a job that brought me up close to the blossom on the trees as I have to clamber into the walled border.  There's no rain or frost forecast for at least the next 10 days and the warm weather has certainly got the bees buzzing around.  I am therefore quietly optimistic of having some fruit this year.

One of the cherry trees - a Morello - was relocated to a walled corner last year (just seen in the distance, by the steps); its blossoms are already open.

Cherry blossom 28:4:13

The other Morello has hundreds of buds just waiting to unfurl...

Cherry blossom by steps 28:4

The apple trees, both Braeburn, didn't produce one solitary fruit last year.  This year I've counted 12 clusters of blossom on one tree alone.  I'll keep an eye on these; if they all pollinate, I'll need to thin some of the fruit later on.  It's the same story with the pears and plums which is just wonderful.

Apple blossom 28:4:13

Throughout the garden I'm finding self-seeded Orach (Atriplex rubra) also known as Mountain Spinach.

Orach 28:4:13

It's both an edible and ornamental, with edible young leaves - salads or cooked like spinach - and the most glorious bright pink seed pods later in the year.  I bought one tiny plant at an NGS plant sale a couple of years ago. Last year a transplanted self-seeder grew to over 8 feet tall; the dried seed pods looked so wonderful that I left them in situ and the wind has done the rest.  The seedlings can easily be pulled out if unwanted or transplant really well. I shall, of course, keep several for my Salad Challenge.

Can I just indulge and show off these two beauties?  The Cerinthe (aka Honeywort) seed blew into a pot of Lemon Balm last year, grew to a foot high, just about survived the winter and has revived itself to flower early.  One of my absolute favourite flowers, I love the glaucous leaves and purple flowers and grow them to provide food for the bees so that they'll home in and find my beans in the process.

Cerinthe 28:4:13

And, lastly, an Aquilegia I bought recently - another Morrison's bargain - that has established really well into my new shady border.  I can't get over how pretty it is and stop to look every time I pass by - which is kind of the point in planting up a border previously used as a cat toilet/rubbish dump.

Aquilegia 28:4:13

Btw, that was definitely not a 15 minute blog post! Too many photos. Just came in under one hour. Ah well.

26 comments:

  1. I like your 60-min posts better than 15-min ones! :)

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    1. Hah! Thank you Mark! Actually, if you consider the time spent in photographing the various elements, the post took a lot longer than an hour! :) x

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  2. Goodness - your garden is way ahead of mine - only the damson has blossom so far and no aqueligias yet - it's looking good Caro.

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    1. This is why I love to read other gardening blogs Elaine - it really highlights the climate differences in other parts of the country. I also have the warmth of surrounding walls - which, in the summer, will mean that my lettuce will bolt faster and the wind really funnels between the flats on either side of the garden! We work with what we have. The older aquilegias haven't flowered yet but are really growing tall and strong; I'm sure if this good weather holds, yours won't be far behind. x

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  3. So do I ! It is super to be out in the sunshine in the garden but as you say, Hairy Bittercress and Sticky Willie are starting to show themselves. You certainly did well clearing your long border, must get out and tackle some more of my weeds.

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    1. Thank you Pauline! It's a job that I really dislike and, of course, has to be done repeatedly throughout the summer. I'm thinking of covering the soil with black plastic and just removing it when I have something ready to plant or planting through it for this year. On the other hand, I could just keep on top of the hoeing!

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  4. Looks like it's going to be a good fruit year for you. I'm hoping that my cherry does well this year as I didn't get one fruit last year. I bought a couple of small apple trees and a small plum tree last year, but I don't think I'll get anything of them yet, I may have to wait a year or two.

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    1. Gosh, I hope it will be a good year for all of us, Jo. I had no fruit last year, either - even on the cherry trees. The fruit trees here were one year old grafted trees when we planted them in 2009 so it's about time we had some fruit from them! Pears and plums do take a few years to fruit, I've heard.

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  5. My goodness - your season is a zillion months ahead of ours, even though we are on the warm south coast. (Supposed to be warm!)

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    1. You surprise me, Lucy. I lived in Weymouth as a child and always think of the Dorset south coast being a warmer part of the country. Being closer to the east coast of the UK than you, we've frozen through all those easterly Siberian winds so the plants are really enjoying a bit of warmth now - and, of course, the surrounding buildings are helping to hold the heat. I hope it warms up soon for you though!

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  6. A lovely post well worth the time taken to do it!
    It's always good to see tree blossom but a shame that it's so short lived. Flighty xx

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    1. Ah, thank you, Flighty! I should have dedicated it to you as I know you like flowers in the garden! I think the blossom is just gorgeous and it's always a shame when the wind lifts it away. Hopefully we'll be compensated with some fruit this year though. xx

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  7. We love Cerinthe too Caro it self seeds all over the place, your picture shows you having a walled garden with a raised bed which way does it face?

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    1. The wall faces (slightly north) east, David, which is not ideal but because the garden is very large and runs (more or less) north to south, this part of the garden gets sunshine from about 8 am until about 2 pm before the neighbouring flats throw it into light shade. I also garden the central island (same length but twice the width) which gets the same sun as it moves round so it's slightly warmer due to being heated about an hour later (if that makes sense?). There's a Viburnam x bodnantense growing at the top end of the garden which should hate being grown against a north-east facing wall in winter but fares very well.

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  8. Would kill for that wall Caro! Cerinthe are one of my favourites too. The beekeepers at the allotment were amazed last summer to see what a bee magnet they are :)

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    1. They're great for the bees - one of my best bee photos was shot while spending a good half hour just watching bees fly around a patch of Cerinthe. Maybe I'm lucky here but it was the same story with the flowerheads on a white onion that I left to flower last year - absolutely covered in bees! RE the wall - I wish it was south facing then I'd have it covered in peach and apricot espaliers! or maybe some grape vine? It used to be covered in ivy; having cleared the ivy, it's hard to know what to do with it - maybe some moss graffitti? ;)

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  9. Well I for one a glad you spent the hour - impressive weeding there! Wonderful blossom, I wish I had more space for fruit, if I hadn't wanted a magnolia stellata so much I could have tried a cherry and a plum. I am also kicking myself for not having double checked that I still had cerinthe seed. I didn't. I was so cross I almost bought plugs, but they were stupidly expensive and there is always next year. orache look really interesting, look forward to reading more about it.

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    1. It's so annoying when you discover a gap in your seed armoury! If the seeds are unusual, and therefore have to be sent off for, it becomes an expensive exercise to replace just one packet. I saw Magnolia stellata at a trade nursery recently and had to find out what it was; since then, I notice them all the time. I can quite understand you wanting to have one in the garden, it's a very beautiful plant.
      I'm coming to love non-edibles just as much as the food I grow; I'd be really stuck if I had a small garden of my own with less space.

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  10. Great image of the Cerinthe. They self seed very well for me, in my free draining soil, I pull them out when the leaves and stems turn yellow. Mine grow to about 80cm tall. Chrisitna

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    1. Hi Christina, thank for stopping by and for the compliment! I love that Cerinthe self-seeds (one less plant to worry about come springtime!) and always feel a bit sad to pull them out but they do get a bit ropey by the end of the season. Mine are pulled when the leaves start to look weary and I then save the seeds, just in case. My soil is London Clay so my cerinthe don't get to that height - yours must look wonderful, and need staking?

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  11. any tips on how to grow Cerinthe? Have some seeds I collected last year, but don;t know too much about them - other than they are a neat looking plant!

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    1. You've inspired me to write a post about it Colin - it's basically pretty foolproof as they practically grow themselves. I started with one seedling bought at Sarah Raven's nursery at Perch Hill and now have lots of plants every year as I collect the seed in the autumn. Excellent value from my initial investment!!

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  12. I'm just hoping all our blossom produces fruit but today's windy conditions aren't doing us any favours!

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    1. Hi Sue, same story here. Have taken a few photos of the glorious blossom to remind me we had some before the wind takes it all away! Will be interesting to see how the trees fare as the season continues ... !

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  13. Hey Caro, it's such a treat to have a quiet day in the garden. You obviously showed the weeds who's boss, your garden looks immaculate!

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    1. Now to keep it that way, Hannah! I've been looking at buying a swivelling hoe this afternoon - would save a lot of work!

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Caro x

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