I’ve just had a large ornamental cherry tree removed from my smallish back garden. I’ve been humming and hawing over this drastic surgery for a few years now, and although it has produced a lovely display of early white blossom every spring, it has also completely dominated the garden. Sapping moisture and nutrients from the soil, the tree has stopped most other plants from flourishing. So it had to go.
Now done, I’m absolutely delighted (if a bit in shock) that there’s so much more light and space. And this is where the quince tree comes in. I want to replace the ornamental cherry tree with another tree, something more productive, but a tree that will provide some privacy without dominating the garden again.
In spring, I went to hear Joy Larkcom talk at the Chelsea Physic Garden, and was completely charmed by their fan trained quince tree (and Joy’s talk of course!). This tree completely fits the bill. The blossom in May was huge and enchanting and I was equally smitten by its large leaves. The supports here are approximately 3m wide and the tree at the moment is maintained to about the same height too.
On a recent trip to Wisley, the fantastically knowledgeable Jim Arbury recommended ‘Meeches Prolific’ as a variety that has some resistance to Quince leaf blight, and growing on Quince C rootstock (similar to the semi-dwarfing M26) should keep the tree relatively small. Keepers Nursery in Kent also recommend ‘Ekmek’ as its fruits are less gritty than ‘Meeches Prolific’, making it good for all types of cooking and baking. Now is the perfect time to order my tree, so I need to get out in the garden and get supports ready before it arrives in the new year. Very exciting!
It’ll be the first time I’ve ever trained a quince tree, but I’m excited by the challenge, and in years to come, it’ll be great to have these gorgeous fruits growing in our back garden.
Posted in Fruit, Quince, Small Gardens, Trees for small gardens | Tagged Meeches prolific, Quince tree, Training quince trees, Trees for small gardens | 35 Comments »
I’ve failed again! I’m really starting to get to grips with successional sowing over summer and have enjoyed months and months of lettuces (and other herbs and leaves) picked from my front garden. But despite actually sowing (and even buying) some leaves for over-wintering I didn’t manage to get most of them into the ground. The shame of it all!
So here I have my one success story. These are Sugarloaf chicories and I grew them as they come highly recommended by Joy Larkcom. Need I say more! I’ve been mixing these with the end of my summer/autumn lettuces, Sorrel and Sweet Cicely and have been enjoying some rather tasty salads.
But as the temperatures are soon forecast to dip again, I’ve decided it’s time to do some wrapping up. I bought these natty hoops from Plant Belles some while ago and they seem just the ticket.
You simply thread a few bamboo canes through the holes in the hoops,
Et voila! Covered in fleece, I now have my own cloche/mini tunnel to keep my chicories covered up during the coldest and windiest of months. Hopefully the protection should elongate the harvesting season for the Sweet Cicely and Sorrel too.
And I’ve left a couple out in the cold as I’m keen to see how well they survive with no extra help.
Meanwhile, neighbour Nicole is collecting seeds from her ‘Halo Apricot’ Hollyhock, remarkably still in bloom in her tree pit. It’s a gorgeous variety and it’ll be interesting to see if the seeds come true or if fraternising with other Hollyhocks in the street will supply some interesting variations.
Alongside my Chicory, Cavolo nero is supplying some delicious winter veg,
and on the corner plot, a small cutting of Daubenton’s perennial Kale, acquired from Charles Dowding, has come on marvellously. Looking forward to taking my own cuttings come spring and popping this very useful veg in many a new spot (sticks are there to deter foxes digging the plant up when tiny).
I’ve been meaning to do a final clear up in the corner plot for ages now, but bulb planting has taken precedence. However, all bulbs have been planted for both clients and myself (hurrah!) and it felt great to have time to collect the last of the seeds and clear up the garden for winter. Just a bit more leaf raking (GRrr..), a bit of mulching perhaps and then there’ll be plenty of time to catch up on reading and researching what to grow next year.
Posted in 'How to', Chicory, Collecting seeds, Seeds, Vegetables, Winter | Tagged Cavolo nero, Cloches for winter, Collecting seeds, Halo Apricot Hollyhock, Hollyhocks, Sugarloaf chicory, Winter protection for vegetables, winter vegetables | 19 Comments »
Winter fragrance has to be the icing on the cake for this gorgeous shrub. I wrote a post some while back about all year round scent and I was scratching my head for plants that would perfume the air in early winter. Clusters of these creamy white blooms have appeared all over what is now a small-ish tree in my back garden, supplying an intoxicating, very sweet, honey-ish, mellow fragrance that I imagine could perfume a high quality soap! I can’t remember if there was such an abundance of blossom last November, and maybe this year’s wealth of flowers is due to our hot summer. Fruit develops over winter, ripening in spring, but again, I can’t recall seeing a really ripe fruit to try one, or did the squirrels manage (as ever) to get there before me? I must be more vigilant next year.
Also known as a Loquat or Japanese Medlar, Eriobotyra japonica can easily be pruned to keep it as a large shrub and it’s a plant I see in many gardens (front and back) where I live in North London. Universally described as architectural, its multi stemmed form creates a generous, wide canopy, with its large glossy leaves hanging candelabra-esque at the end of the branches, giving a fantastic evergreen structure.
On late summer evenings, the velvety, paler underside of the leaves magically seem to catch the last rays of the day, providing another reason (should I need one) why this shrub/tree is greatly cherished in my N.London back garden.
A few people have asked how hardy this plant is in the UK. Good question!
Architectural Plants say on their website that this plant is hardy in the home counties. I spoke to the lovely people at Big Plant Nursery, who said that it was a really hardy plant, but avoid planting in exposed sites and possibly wrap up smaller plants in cold weather until the plant is well established. It’s also supplied by Victoriana Nusery in Kent and the Palm centre in Richmond in London. If you do grow Eriobotrya japonica outside the home counties in the UK, do let me know!
Posted in Evergreen, Scented evergreens, Shrubs, Trees, Uncategorized | Tagged Eriobotrya japonica, evergreen architectural shrubs, Scent for November in the garden, scented evergreen shrubs, Winter garden scent, winter scent | 19 Comments »