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Apples

I have probably just done one of my least favourite gardening jobs. It feels kind of criminal to be taking off apples when they seem healthy, but this is a good time of year to thin apples out so that the tree can concentrate on growing really good ones and not be over burdened with undersized fruit that we wouldn’t want to eat anyway. 

Thinning out ensures only healthy fruit stays on the tree and has lots of room to grow. It’s an easy task, even if it does sometimes mean sacrificing a few for the good of the many.

Start with those that are obviously damaged or diseased, and then those that are still very small. Next thin each spur down to ideally one apple, or maybe two if they’re on opposite sides.

As one would when harvesting, gently squeeze and twist the individual fruit, so as not to disturb the others. Sometimes they make the decision for you and fall off anyway.

So despite my ‘waste not want not’ view of gardening, I think I have helped the crop along nicely. And I have some lovely additions to the compost pile!

Next was a bit of light summer pruning, with the help of the BBC Gardeners World blog. This popped up on my news feed this morning, so my plan to tackle the trees today seemed even more serendipitous. 

http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/grow-plants/how-to-prune-apple-trees/

Slightly more of a technical challenge, but well worth doing as it helps to let in lots of sunlight and fresh air to the middle of the tree to prevent disease and help fruit to ripen up.

So a productive morning.  Luckily I had some nice company too.

British Flowers Week 2017

 

Its British Flowers Week! 19th to 25th June.

Time to commend, celebrate, and champion all the fantastic British Flowers in our gardens and – more importantly – those that we should be buying in our shops.

There are lots of reasons to buy British flowers, the same reasons we should choose to buy our food from local suppliers:

  • There are less air miles or road miles involved, so less carbon emissions and a better impact on the environment
  • Less distance travelled means a fresher bloom that will last longer in the vase. It wont have been chemically treated to last the journey.
  • Those local growers and small florist businesses need us to buy their flowers, more than the supermarkets, keeping small and family businesses alive.
  • To help support and encourage British flower farmers also means we are supporting British Wildlife. Bees and other pollinating insects need their habitats to be maintained and flower farms are key to this.
  • British Blooms are great value, and when in season their cost improves, they are the best way to get a perfect specimen, rather than something average and mass produced.
  • British flowers usually have a superior scent to those imported. Roses are a great example of this – try a sniff next time you’re at a generic supermarket stand of cellophaned bunches, then compare to a rose from the garden.

 

To celebrate, I am going to pick and post a bunch from my garden every day this week.

Monday 19th

What better way to launch British Flowers Week than with some red white and blue.

My Sweet William are amazing this year, so many bright red flowers. I’ve matched with some white Sweet William, astrantia, mock orange, and with blue lavender, salvia, veronica and cornflowers, amongst others.

Tuesday 20th

This may seem like cheating slightly, as I am using a photo of an arrangement (or 16) I did for a party last week. So they aren’t flowers picked today, but they are all British flowers (from my aunt and cousins glorious gardens in Herefordshire and Norfolk respectively). 

Green and Lime was the colour scheme and Alstroemeria were the shining star. Matched with green alchemilla mollis (ladies mantel), hedera and hosta leaves, I sprayed some allium seed heads gold for some sparkle, added some orange heuchera flowers for height and some purple veronica and medolino sticks for interest.

Sixteen 60cm vases with raffia, cellophane and lights was a tall order (!), but it was a real team effort and a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Wednesday 21st

A simple one today. Just roses. Perhaps the most symbolic representation of the British garden (I’m not going to say ‘English rose‘ as we are in Wales!).

The orange ones here are David Austin, and the white and yellow are roses I have inherited in the garden. Such calming colours. I’m going to be using the petals from these to make natural confetti for my step-daughters wedding in October, so picking them will have double uses!

Thursday 22nd

Here is a bunch I picked for myself yesterday. I picked them early in the morning, left them in the cool all day with a drink and then got around to arranging them yesterday evening. It was a bit of a thrown together arrangement as I was in a bit of a hurry. I used tape on the top of the jug to help them stand up.

I’ve not grown zinnia before, so am loving the lime green and pale yellow contrast to the bright orange calendula ‘Indian Prince’. One solitary dahlia ‘Burlesque’ included as it is very early, but such a vibrant red/orange.

I’m still trying to get my photography right, so tried a few spots for the stills, and then took a video too, as I think this really shows up the quality of the flowers.

 

As for the rest of the week? Well, I admit I ran out of time as we were away for a few days. Made a mental note to start early with the picking and arranging next year and post a daily photo based on a previous days work. Kind of obvious!! 

Anyway, a few pictures of the garden to finish off the week. I’m so pleased with how its beginning to turn out, although there is still lots to do.

The long border with its ‘new’ stone wall

 

 

 

 

Dahlia Burlesque

 

Sweet Williams.

Potato Rose, Rose Potato

Has anyone tried this before? I’ve seen clips on Pinterest and Facebook about an easy and cheap way to propagate roses from supermarket bunches using a potato.

I think its to do with the starch in the potato that acts as a boost to the rose as it produces roots. Anyway, whilst I read more to learn the science, I thought I would give it a go. I have tried propagating from bought flowers before, but not to any great success. To be honest, I think if it was as easy as its made out to be, more of us would be doing it?

Anyway, I am prepared to do the experiment and feed back the results, but I would love to hear your views. Have you tried this, or something similar?

 

March 18th 2017.

Drilled a hole in a potato to about halfway. Chose a rose stem that was quite thick. It had been in water and rose food for a couple of days from the supermarket.

I cut the flower off and left two leaves, put it into the potato and put the whole lot into compost with some slow release food and have placed it in the greenhouse.

I’ll keep you updated…….

March 26th 2017

I took off one of the leaves as it was drying out and I didn’t want the rose to focus on the leaves rather than putting down roots. Otherwise it looks OK.

Planting a Foraging Hedgerow

It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, and it probably comes from my early family life of making the most of what we had, waste not want not etc. Food for free (or a little effort) has got to be a good thing, and although I could never live totally off grid or try to be completely self sufficient (travel, tv, wifi etc you get the picture) I have always enjoyed the satisfaction of harvesting and making food from whatever I can find growing wild.

As much as the hedges around us already have a lot of what I like to use, I feel we are competing a bit with the birds, who often grab the elderberries before I can get them, and the farmer who is fastidious in his hedge trimming, much to the detriment of the blackthorn, blackberries and hazels nearby.

I also like the idea of having everything in one space, not being lazy, just practical. Anyway, we have a fence that needs replacing with rabbit wire and a hedge there would also help break the wind a bit and add to the veg patch we are slowly developing. Perfect solution.

I’ve read a bit, researched a bit, spoken to the garden centre owner and am also plumping for a good dose of suck it and see beginners luck. This garden and house are our forever home and therefore a long term project. I think I am going to learn more from the mistakes I make as much as the books I read. As long as there aren’t too many and it doesn’t put me off!

Anyway, this is the week it is going to happen. I have some spare cash (before the Christmas spending begins) and a gardener lined up to help dig the holes!

So my wish list is:

Black elder – more interesting than the usual elders and we already have a few of them around. (for Elderflower and berries)

Blackthorn (sloes)

Crab apple – edible obvs for jelly

Damson – to replace the one we had to take down

Hazel – for the cobnuts and hazels

Plum – why not?!

Quince – jelly and jam

I have a couple of dog roses already for hips, but in theory any rose hip can be used for syrups etc.

We also have a blackberry, which produces the most amazing plump fruit, and is already holding a corner position at one end of the planned hedge, so I am cultivating that.

The lovely people at Wiggly Wigglers in Herefordshire were really helpful with some great advice. After I made a quick email enquiry I had a call back from them within the hour and some very good tips. Followed up by an email with the planting guides they send out with their Edible Hedge Pack. A great help.

So we’ll see how they get on… updates to follow.