16 Mar 2014

An early taste of summer and tree following

No wonder British gardeners are obsessed with the weather! This time last year there was snow on the ground, yet this past week has been dry, sunny and, at times, hot enough for (a British) summer.  I even watered the veg patch yesterday evening - can't have my germinating seeds drying out.  I took a risk and outdoor sowed spinach, lettuce, broad beans and beetroot last weekend, just on the off chance that temperatures weren't going to dip anytime soon, but I have a roll of fleece on standby just in case. If weather forecasts are to be believed, it seems London might have rain and lower temperatures by the end of next week - more 'normal' for this time of year but who knows what that is any more?

This week though, there have been lovely things: a chance find of Skye Gingell's book 'A Year in My Kitchen' in a charity shop (flavourful recipes for seasonally grown food), a gift from same charity shop of some Mottistone lettuce seeds and a wonderful spring walk around the Capel Manor grounds before settling in for a study day in the library.  Mindful walking + books always feels good to me. Clubcard points have been converted into a subscription to Garden Answers mag so there's something to look forward to - the postman's knock is so much more exciting when the delivery includes a gardening magazine.

~ Early morning walk around the Capel Manor grounds ~

Some good ideas caught my eye at  Capel: spring onions sown to line a path (love the shed!); willow canes woven together in the walled garden - I'm guessing for a bean or pea hurdle; canes tied to hazel poles for dahlias to grow through and a random selection of vintage cloches to protect growing veg.  Just lovely.


I sowed a tray of sweet peas a few weeks back, they've germinated at different rates but are now 80% through. Unsurprisingly, the newest seeds have all come through, strong and healthy.  I've been leaving them outside on my balcony during the day and even left them out overnight last night. One more set of leaves and they'll be pinched out and then planted shortly after, weather permitting. I've bought a large bundle of dried and lacquered willow sticks from Ikea - sold for indoor decoration but perfect for wigwams and cheaper than bamboo canes.  In the garden, there's enough Cerinthe available to pick a few stems for a vase, here paired with flat leaf parsley from a huge mound that flourished throughout the mild winter. Home-grown flowers indoors really herald spring for me.


There have been some not so lovely things - my teenager has been off college with a flu-like illness for over a week (now better and every tissue in the house used up) and my computer keyboard was also ailing - the delete and space bar keys stopped working. Bit tricky that, but I've been making do with my iPad. All is well though as the keyboard was still in warranty and the Apple Store just swopped it over … with no waiting! That put a smile on my face.

The one thing that I really meant to get done (and didn't) was to write up a post to link to Lucy's tree following on her blog, Loose and Leafy.  It's taken me ages to decide which tree to focus on; living five minutes from Hampstead Heath (humungous weeping willow) and visiting Capel Manor gardens (Wych elm, Amelanchier, Acer and crab apple) every week has given me quite a choice, and then there's my own fruit trees, plus a gorgeous potted nectarine in the Which? trial gardens  … I've been thinking it over all week, made my decision, took photos and then missed the deadline for this, the first month.  The information won't be wasted as I'll write it up anyway so that I can refer back to it next month, on the 7th.  And now for a teaser: I wonder if anyone can guess which tree I chose to follow?

18 comments:

  1. I'm guessing Amelanchier. I'm going to informally follow a tree as I'd never manage to stick to a timetable. It's been really windy here.

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    1. I think informally is good - best to be realistic! I quite like the structure of having to take note of what's happening and reporting back every month, especially at this time of year when everything is kicking into life so quickly! Hope your windy weather doesn't have rain clouds behind it!

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  2. Oh, no! You are still keeping us in suspense over which tree you will be following! And each sounds good. Sorry you missed the deadline for March but . . . roll on the next 7th.

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    1. Haha! Not really, all will be revealed very soon! You're right, there are SO many lovely trees to choose from! Yes pity about missing the deadline but at least my name is there on the main list and I won't miss it in April (keyboard permitting;) )

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  3. The garden lay out looks so neat, inspiring. Thanks for sharing

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    1. The walled garden next to the manor house is one of my favourite places for a wander. The fruit and veg beds are just a small part - the gardens are filled with roses and dahlias in summer - something to look forward to!

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  4. I'm going for the acer. I like the idea of spring onions lining a path, though I grow mine in containers so it wouldn't really work on my allotment. Hope the teenager is feeling much better, flu is an awful thing to have.

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    1. Ah yes, the acer is such a beautiful tree in the autumn! I thought the spring onions would be very accessible next to the path and mark it out beautifully. Thank you, my boy is much better now although he was pretty bad last week. Poor love. (Just hope I've managed to avoid the germs!!)

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    2. Sounds like you are well ahead with your seed sowing - I haven't been in too much of a hurry as I got caught out last year, but I have made a start. I wonder which tree you will choose - I reckon the crab apple. Have a lovely week. Elaine.

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  5. All a bit of a suspense Caro :) very curious now! So lovely this weekend, it almost felt like summer!

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  6. What inspirational ideas at Capel, I love them. Glad your boy is better now. A great find in the charity shop, and a bit of luck at Apple. You're on a roll! I'm wondering if you chose the willow, as I went past one that I always stop and look at today, and wondered if I should have done the tree following thing. I shall watch this space.

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  7. My guess is crab apple Caro. Those Tesco club card points do come in handy - mine have recently paid for my first ever senior railcard :) Hope that teenager is soon on the mend.

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  8. Dare I say it, I could do with some rain. My clay soil has gone from waterlogged to solid and cracking up in the space of a week! The Spring onions are a great idea, might well pinch that!

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  9. Love the willow support, I might try that for growing peas up at the allotment - we just happened to sow some peas yesterday and we've got a lot of willow twigs lying around waiting for some inspiration.

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  10. A most enjoyable post, and terrific photos. I've still not sown or planted anything.
    I look forward to seeing which tree you chosen to follow. Flighty xx

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  11. Deadlines. I hate deadlines! They inhibit creativity.My guess is that you will follow one of the Cherry trees from the Cherry Walk at Capel Manor.

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  12. A willow???
    I do like the spring onion lined path! I may try to fit one in somewhere. My sweet peas are out too and like you I took a chance and direct sowed some veg seeds....then went away for a few days and abandoned then!
    I do hope your teenager gets better soon and the computer stops throwing hissy fits....xxx

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  13. It's been so lovely here. Hoping to catch an hour or so in the garden later. I do love the nights getting longer. So fab to be able to wander around the gardens at Capel Manor. A good way to spend those clubcard points. :)

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Caro x

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