14 Apr 2014

Tree following… Choices, choices!

I managed to miss the deadline for Lucy's Tree Following last month so this month will be an introduction and a catch up on my tree so far.

Firstly, which tree to choose? We do so well for trees here in the UK.

A. lamarckii leaf buds about to unfurl
I love Amelanchier lamarckii, also known as Juneberry, such a pretty tree and it fades so beautifully at the end of the year.  Camden Council have just planted six Amelanchiers in a side street near to the local City Farm.  It's an unusual choice for a local council to instal, one rarely seen. A nearby householder has planted up the tree pit of the Amelanchier nearest to his house.  This would have been a good tree to follow, there's obviously a story there.  On the other hand …

There's a huge, mature and gloriously swooping willow on the Heath by the path to the duck ponds, lots of activity and dog walking going on nearby, plus the occasional art installation …

Then there's the poor lopped off plane trees under my window.  They were severely pruned in late Autumn last year.  Will they resprout? Will the robins return? Will the ivy survive?  And what of the garden that they're in? We might never know …

The canopy of these London Planes completely shaded this garden in past years.

Also under consideration is my urban orchard; eight fruit trees planted as one-year old bareroots in December 2009, this is their sixth year in the veg patch. A specially-developed-for-London apple tree joined the patch in January 2013, making nine trees.  I really feel I should get to know them better. They were covered in buds in March and I honestly can't tell a leaf bud from a fruit bud plus there's the whole pruning for fruit thing. Worthy of a closer look?  I've also just added a quince tree to this collection.  I haven't grown quince before so if excitement levels are a measure of tree following worthiness, this would be the one.

Tangled branches of Ulmus glabra.
But there's more.  Just when I'd almost decided, I walked past a tree of such quirkiness that I was all of a doodah.  Ulmus glabra, also known as Wych elm.  This is in front of the manor house at Capel's Enfield site and I met it on an ident walk in my first year.  Its pendant branches hide a glorious spaghetti like tangle on top of the trunk but the downside is that I probably won't see it during the summer months until my college studies resume. It was a real contender though and one I may sneakily report on from time to time throughout the tree following year.

Being realistic, the trees I see on a daily basis are my fruit trees so I'm going to follow these. I know I should pick one but as an orchard they all contribute to the garden.

Mid border looking south: two apple trees, two pears and a cherry in the corner. 


Over the past few weeks the blossom has been luxuriant with the pear and plum flowers showing first, followed by cherry and apple.  The plum blossom has almost gone leaving the cherry blossom to steal the show.  So many people have stopped to comment or take photographs and I'm really pleased that all this beauty is getting noticed.


I think the most interesting of these trees to look at (at the moment) is the cherry tree.  It's a Morello which is a sour cherry - good for pies and compotes (and perhaps dipped in dark chocolate!) but, for me, not for eating fresh off the tree.

There are two of these trees; one I dug up and moved to another corner plot a couple of years ago, this one stayed put; both are doing really well.  It was grafted onto dwarfing rootstock and, bizarrely, this rootstock grew a couple of stems.  After a couple of years, I was fairly confident this leafy growth was not contributing anything to the cherry tree and chopped off the usurping stems.  They still sprout leaves from time to time, and I'm enjoying the greenery this year but think it should really be pruned off.  You can see this in the photo below which also shows the plants surrounding the tree: day lilies and ivy to the right,  Jacob's Ladder (pulmonaria) and rosemary to the left.  The metal spire was for the clematis to climb up but it's making its own way up the tree!  (nb. must tie it in!)





I love the bark on prunus trees, this one is no exception being a deep bronze.  Like some Silver Birch trees, the young bark peels off to reveal a beautiful surface underneath.  I don't know if this is standard for cherry trees, I'm certainly enjoying the effect on this one!

One other point of interest about this tree: a couple of years ago, I found a tiny plant growing out of the soil under the tree.  I assumed it was a sycamore or such like and was about to pull it up when I saw a split cherry pip by the tiny plant.  I carefully transplanted the tiny tree to care for it on my balcony and then replanted it a year later.  That was a couple of years ago.  The tiny tree is now about 13 inches high; I'll probably have to plant it into it's final place at the end of this year so that it can grow big and strong away from its parent.

May 2012, just a seedling. March 2014 coming back to life; April 2014 in leaf.  

Looking up into the canopy of blossom - look at all those potential cherries!

PS.  The apple blossom is looking pretty special too at the moment!






30 comments:

  1. Hi Caro - haven't read this yet but will return to do so. Glad you put the link in the box. It should have shut at 7pm today but says, at present, that it will close in 25mins - presumably because it doesn't know about British Summer Time. But that doesn't explain why it told you 15 hours! Sorry about the confusion. Glad you got your link in in time!

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    1. I had 7pm in mind and went ahead and linked before I'd finished the post, publishing my post with 'to be continued'! Haha! Quickly finished it off - whew! No probs about the confusion, these things happen. Well done for having so many tree followers, lots of posts to read!

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  2. That border looks gorgeous with the blooming trees and tulips (nice choice of colours btw)! Love Morello cherries especially when used in jams, and the tree itself looks so ornamental with its beautiful peeling bark. Well done on the cherry sapling, it'll be a fine specimen one day!

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    1. Ah thanks guys! I had to smile at your comment about my tulips - those ones are from a £5 bag I picked up in Tesco last autumn. They were planted at the same time as a batch of expensive bulbs but the Tesco bulbs were first up and are giving a lovely show - and I can't take any credit whatsoever for it!! I feel very protective of the little cherry sapling as I practically grew it myself; I just hope it transplants well and grows big and strong!

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  3. It's really interesting to follow a tree progress, especially in the spring time on your climate. Full of flowers, then will following the fruitlets. It's so amazing! Your trees look so stunning! BTW your tulips make me so jealous!

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    1. Glad you're enjoying the tree following, Endah, thank you - must be so different in your country. Can't wait to show off the cherries which will hopefully appear in a few months. I'm enjoying the tulips too, it's the first time I've grown them and will definitely do so again, much prettier than daffodils! :)

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  4. So which tree did you end up choosing? Your little orchard looks stunning at the moment - what would spring be without blossom which has been particularly lovely this year. Although cherry trees look lovely they are a darned nuisance sending runners everywhere and seedlings that suddenly take hold - my garden has them everywhere. Will be interesting to see how your little sapling fares. No apple blossom here yet.

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    1. Thanks Elaine - I finally chose the orchard - not quite the one tree of the rules but I was finding it hard to make a final choice! I'll certainly have plenty to go back to in future tree following years! I haven't noticed any runners on my cherry tree (yet?) but the raspberry canes do that and drive me nuts, so many plants to dig up in the spring! I know now to keep an eye out for cherry seedlings and pull them up having got my 'heir and spare'!!

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  5. Lovely to see your chosen trees and some other beautiful ones too. I like to watch the little fruit trees in my garden as well and I'm keeping an eye on my neighbour's Morello cherry as well - last year he let me have some of them and they were utterly delicious, stewed and served over Greek yoghurt, the yoghurt tasted like cream, the nicest thing I ate all summer. Yours look like they're at a very similar stage to mine. I have pear blossom and yesterday the apple blossom started opening and the cherry is in full flower. I shall look forward to following.

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    1. What a lovely neighbour to give you some of his precious cherry harvest! The mild winter (and lots of rain!) have made such a contrast to spring of last year that I'd completely forgotten how much I love this time - all that blossom is so gorgeous! Tree following is making me really look at the detail of the trees; it's so easy to concentrate on the veg growing and forget about the fruit trees until I see fruit forming!

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  6. Lovely post and thank you for sharing

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  7. I found it hard to choose a tree as I also had a few contenders. A great idea to choose your little orchard. xx

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    1. Thanks, Joanne. It would be interesting to know which trees have caught your eye, perhaps you'll let us know in one of your future posts?

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  8. Your cherry tree is full of blossom. I've got a Stella tree but it hasn't got that much blossom this year, I'm not expecting a huge harvest.

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    1. Stella is one of the varieties that I thought about adding to my collection of trees. I've wondered what the taste is like as I prefer sweet to sour cherries and also whether the birds would get the fruit first which is not a problem I have with the Morellos. (Touch wood!) Hopefully it's not too late for some more blossom on your tree!

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  9. A most enjoyable, and interesting, tree following post and terrific photos. Flighty xx

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    1. Thank you, Flighty. It's a very enjoyable meme to join in with and there are some very interesting posts about trees from other bloggers. A great way to find out more about trees in various parts of the UK and rest of world!

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  10. Hi Caro, It is lovely to meet you and read all about your urban vegetable plot. It must be a good thing to be involved in. Your orchard looks wonderful and it will be interesting to watch it's progress and compare it with my apple tree that I am following. My tree hasn't reached the blossom stage yet! The view of the sea has changed since we had a new road but we still have the same feeling as you when we reach the Ridgeway! Sarah x

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    1. Hi Sarah, Thanks for coming over and commenting. It's lovely to meet you too and to have found your blog - I have so many very happy childhood memories of Weymouth. I forgot to ask what sort of apple your tree is - perhaps it's a late fruiter and you have lots of blossom to come? I look forward to reading more about your tree following next month! C x

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  11. So many lovely trees to choose from, your Cherry is beautiful and I look forward to seeing it through the year. With all that blossom you will be enjoying your harvest for some time!

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    1. Ah, thank you Pauline! I've had a pretty whopping haul of cherries for the past couple of years now but the trees that I really want to fruit are the pears and, especially, the plums! They also had a mass of blossom but now the wind has taken most of it away so it's now a game of wait and see!

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  12. Wow, what a fantastic tree post, you certainly had my attention. Oh goodness, that Wych elm is stunning, I have never seen one before, but oh how I now want one. I would like to see more of it!
    Beautiful blossom and a lovely story of your little cherry tree, and yes, of course you must post on your beautiful orchid. A lovely post, I did enjoy it.xxx

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    1. Aww, thanks, Snowbird, that's a really lovely compliment! Glad you like the Wych elm, it's such an intriguing tree, wish it was growing in the gardens of the flats here! I'll make a point of keeping an eye on it and reporting back!! C xx

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  13. Lovely to meet your trees especially the baby Caro. I wonder how many years it will be before it bears fruit. Here the pears are all of a glorious frothiness but the apples blossoms are only just opening. Would like to find room for a cherry and think I know where I can fit one in :)

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    1. I have a definite soft spot for my baby cherry tree, Anna but as it's a proper cherry tree (no dwarfing rootstock) I assume it will grow quite large one day! These fruit trees are six years old and the cherries are still quite short, around 5 feet tall so a good tree for a small garden if you get the right rootstock. Would love to see which cherry you choose and where you put it!

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  14. It must have been a hard choice to make with so many interesting trees in your area. Fruit trees are good though - always something of interest from the first blossom buds right through to ripe fruit... and then there's the cherry pie as a finale of course! Looking forward to following your orchard through the year.

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    1. Oh, it was a very hard choice to make! I can't help feeling that I've slightly taken the easy option but it's making me look very closely at my fruit trees which has got to be a good thing. And yes, then there's pie …. yum!! (Really hoping for pear pie this year though!!)

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  15. I'm so glad you decided to follow your urban orchard Caro, being new to fruit trees it will be really interesting to follow your more mature specimens and learn. I am still thrilled by the sight of the first blossom on pear and one of the three plums. And I do love the way you have underplanted them with tulips. Stunning combination.

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    1. Ah, thank you, Janet! I remembered you saying that you hoped I would choose fruit trees - it seemed such a good idea and so handy for close observation. Thrilling is a good word to describe the blossom - seeing all those frothy flowers just makes me want to smile! The tulips were the result of wanting to inject a burst of colour into the garden this year; the pink ones have faded to be replaced by bright reds, yellow and a striped mix of the two colours - seriously vibrant now! Next year I'm planting even more!!

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Caro x

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