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Eriobotya in bloom_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 early summer, 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.

Erriobotya,  in bloom 3Also 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.

Erriobotya, underside of leavesOn 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.

P.S.

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!

P. P.S

Loquat and almond cakeNow in June, and my loquat tree has produced a good crop of fruits. This is a most tasty loquat and almond cake (from a Diana Henry recipe)!

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Gnarly old fruit tree in Wiveton Hall Kitchen Garden with vibrant blue Ceratostigma plumbaginoidesI’m a creature of habit, and once I find a fantastic garden, I can’t help returning to the scene, again and again. The stylishly unkempt walled kitchen garden at Wiveton Hall is always a lure, and combined with great coastal walks and big big skies, it’s a fantastic reason for sojourning in Norfolk (along the north coast to be precise!). I have blogged about the garden before, but I find that with each new visit comes a fresh wave of inspiration. I mean, what can beat the elegance and delight of a gnarly old pear tree surrounded by such flinty gorgeousness?

Fennel at Wiveton HallOr a field full of Fennel (aka Florence Fennel if you plan on buying seeds)?

Walled Garden at Wiveton Hall with 17th century houseThis most perfect of spots is attached to a 17th century Jacobean manor house and a fantastic café, (best food around for miles), whose chefs forage daily in the garden. For full immersion, you can hire a wing of the house (or one of their nearby cottages) or have a delicious meal at the café, overlooking the surrounding marshes. Alternatively, just pay your £2 in the shop (next to the cafe),

Wander in Wiveton Hall Kitchen Garden

and pop in for gentle wander.

Nerine and Erigeron Karvinskianus in the Walled Garden at Wiveton Hall 2Mid October, and there are still a few blooms in flower. Above, pink Nerine bowdenii and the daisy like stalwart Erigeron karvinksiannus hug the base on the wall,

Flowering parsley at Wiveton Halland parsley is supplying dainty lime green umbellifers as it goes to seed.

Kale and cabbages in Wiveton Hall Kitchen Garden

Eslewhere in the garden,  there are still plenty of herbs and veg to keep the restaurant going until it closes for the season on November 3rd. (Reopening around Easter 2014).

Compost bins at Wiveton HallAlong with the planting, I was rather taken by this fine trio of compost bins.

Compost bin at Wiveton Hall

I love their simple but brilliant construction and the fact that they too sit happily amid the flint surroundings.

Trained fruit trees at Wiveton Hall

Whilst it seems like a quiet time in the garden, the walls are awash with trained fruit trees,

Lgan-Tay berry (?)at Wiveton Hall

and fruit canes (not sure if this is a Tayberry or Loganberry?) have been beautifully positioned for the year ahead.

Cold frame in Wiveton Hall Kitchen GardenMore forward planning and propagation can be seen in a patched up cold frame,

Greenhouses in Wiveton Hall Kitchen Gardenin the greenhouses,

Seedlings at Wiveton Halland nestling in other corners of the garden. This kitchen garden is my idea of heaven.

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Tree pit planted with wildflowers

About 5 years ago, our community veg growing project was launched when Islington Council gave away free wildflower seeds for tree pits (the base around trees). Since then, pimping our pavements has become a regular part of our horticultural activities, and an edged tree pit has become the holy grail of our street planting.

Planting up tree pits

When the council included our community project as part of their entry into London and Britain in Bloom, they kindly helped us along with edging fifteen of our pits.

Just those few extra inches make all the difference,

Eugenie Biddle-tree pit winner

allowing residents to plant perennials alongside wildflowers and other annuals.

Nikki with Everedge edging

Sadly, these resources are no longer available from the council, but we do have enough funding to have a go at DIY tree pit edging. And here’s Nikki, our first DIY tree pit candidate. The metal EverEdge edging comes in packs of five 1 metre lengths, that easily interlock to create a continuous border. We were slightly alarmed at how rigid it sseemed at first, but bending was more do-able than we at first thought, simply wrapping the metal around a piece of wood (instructions are enclosed!) and using a bit of elbow grease.

Before pic of tree pit

Since it was our first attempt, we did learn a few lessons along the way.

  • Ask your neighbours to move their cars the day before, for easier access to the tree pit!
  • Don’t permanently join your lengths of EverEdge together until you have created all the bends on all of the pieces
  • You’ll need more soil to fill the tree pit (once it’s been created) than you think
  • You’ll need a large mallet for hammering in the edging, plus some wood for shaping the corners and to use with the mallet (see pic below) (more…)

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