THE JOYS OF SPRING!

By Jill | April 30th, 2010

Hello – what a beautiful week. It really is an absolutely glorious time of year.

It does not matter how many springs you have seen – they never fail to please. This week has seen a beautiful mix of sun and showers – which has helped to keep plants in tune a bit more – there have also been several overcast days which help that young soft growth to harden up a bit – and survive the extremes a bit better.

I think perhaps this spring – more than most – it has been noticeable how fast stuff is growing. The trees are literally coming into leaf overnight – and the new growth on climbers and perennials is quite stunning.

However – there are problems appearing – aphid is already apparent on some plants – and we are monitoring new growth to ensure there is no setback.

We are still getting a lot of reports from customers about dead or apparently dead shrubs in their gardens – these are a hangover from the vicious winter weather. It is predominantly evergreens that are mentioned – but as I have said before – the evergreens do not start producing new growth until mid-May – so it is far too early to give up on anything yet!

The BLOSSOM is outstanding this year – the PLUMS and CHERRIES are in full flower – and the early-flowering APPLE BLOSSOM is starting. I adore apple blossom – not only for the lovely scent – but also that beautiful mix of pink and white – as the buds unfurl.

Talking of APPLE BLOSSOM – the Malus – the FLOWERING CRAB APPLES are now starting their season of glory. They nicely follow on from the PRUNUS – the FLOWERING CHERRIES. We grow many beauties – but what is so much better about the Crab Apple versus Cherry conundrum is that the Crab Apples will all have decorative fruit in the autumn – which sadly the Flowering Cherries will not have. This put together with their small size – and the ability to grow well on most soils score them a lot of brownie points in the tree stakes.

As to which varieties to grow – well it depends on what you want them for. Since they are all superb in blossom – it comes down to those with larger fruits – if you want to make Crab Apple Jelly those like JOHN DOWNIE are your best bet – there are more ornamental types like the purple-leaved forms – and then there are some that just outstanding all across the board – like ‘WHITE STAR’ and MALUS TRANSITORIA – they have it all – wonderful blossom – and great fruit.

There now – if you had not realised it – I quite like CRAB APPLES – why not take a closer look at them yourself – you may be pleasantly surprised!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

RICHARD

REMEMBER – THIS IS A BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND – AND DUE TO LOCAL PLANNING RESTRICTIONS – THE NURSERY IS CLOSED OVER THE WHOLE WEEKEND – FROM SATURDAY TO MONDAY INCLUSIVE.

THE GREAT WATER GAME BEGINS!!

By Jill | April 23rd, 2010

Hello – what a week!! It has felt more like July here at the nursery than April.

For the most part, we have had blue skies and a blazing hot sun – that chilly wind has still been about – but even that should disappear in the next few days.

There have been several quite sharp overnight frosts – which with the blossom and young growth has been a bit of a concern – but it does not seem to have done any serious damage at the moment.

Of much bigger concern though is how dry it has become – yet again!

It is incredible to think that after one of the coldest and wettest winters on record – we are now finding a number of plants are starting to run short of water. We have not actually had any rain for three weeks in Suffolk – Easter Saturday was the last really wet day.

There is plenty of moisture down below – but the top of the ground has got very hard and really dried out – mostly due to a lethal combination of hot sun and strong winds – the old NURSERYMAN’S NIGHTMARE. Anything newly-planted or newly-potted must be kept well-watered for successful rooting.

After last summer – when it did not rain for 6 months in East Anglia – the signs are ominous that it is going exactly the same way this year. Great weather if you are laying on a beach – but if you are a serious gardener or running a nursery with thousands of plants – you may not be quite so happy!!

So we have had to bring our irrigation programme forward – and we are now running a full summer schedule – all the trees and all the stock areas have been brought online – and the bore hole is churning out water left, right and centre. It is still far too early to say what the summer is going to bring – but the early signs would suggest it could be a scorcher!!

Whatever the outcome – we must always stay ahead of the game – water is one of the most difficult operations to manage on the nursery – too little and plants will quickly go backwards – too much and they will also suffer. We change our irrigation programme daily to suit the weather – and the many different environments on the nursery – but it is a headache to be sure. With no decent rainfall on the horizon – it will occupy a lot of my thoughts – probably for the next six months!!

Something else that is starting to occupy our thoughts as well is the SUFFOLK SHOW. We will again have two stands there – one outside the flower show made up of edible stuff – from fruit to herbs – to vegetables – and our usual huge display inside the marquee.

Although the show is eight weeks away – preparations are well underway – and we are starting to get some serious items allocated in advance. Although it is only a two-day show – it takes up an enormous amount of time and energy – so forward planning is all important.

We have also begun our SHRUB CUTTINGS programme this week. Certain items do very well from cuttings at this time of year – so the girls are busily harvesting the young growth – a little time spent now will provide hundreds of new plants for the autumn season.

Other than that – there is much potting on of young stock preparing for the autumn planting season – there look at that – we are planning for autumn already – and it is only just spring!!
But you have to get ahead in this game – there’s no prize for being behind!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME,
RICHARD

THE CURSE OF THE BLACKTHORN WINTER

By Jill | April 16th, 2010

Hello – well it has happened again!! What you may ask is he on about this week? – I am talking about the old Blackthorn Winter. The Suffolk countryboys always say that when the Blackthorn or Sloe is in flower – the weather is cold. In hedges everywhere – the white blossom is appearing – and we have had a nagging cold North-easterly wind – and chilly old nights – all week long.

It is a strange – but true fact – that whether the Blackthorn flowers in late March as in most years – or as this year 3 weeks later than normal – in 9 years out of 10 – it will be cold when it is in flower.

Luckily – it only flowers for 7-10 days – so hopefully this chilly wind will not last long.

So – here on the nursery – another busy old week. A lot of customers are very busy getting their final trees and shrubs into the ground before they really start to grow away. It loooks like being another vintage year for blossom – the photo above is of another impressive tree at the moment – or often seen as a bushy shrub – that is AMELANCHIER CANANDENSIS – the SNOWY MESPILUS. This is a tree or shrub that is much more widely seen now – it is creeping into many of the council plantings – and for good reason. It has much going for it – superb spring blossom which contrasts beautifully with the bronze young leaves – edible berries in June – and superb orange and red autumn colour – no wonder it is so popular!! The tree form we have is AMELANCHIER ‘ROBIN HILL’ – a slightly pinker blossom – but it is definitely a tree and not a shrub – nice and straight – but not too big for a small garden.

We are busy potting on a lot of potential new FRUIT items for next season – we have selected and potted on new CORDON APPLES and some of the larger rootstocks that are in demand at the moment. These will be grown on – and hopefully some of them will be available for sale in the autumn.

We still have ASPARAGUS CROWNS for immediate planting – along with potted SOFT FRUIT – SUCH AS RASPBERRIES – GOOSEBERRIES- RHUBARB – BLACKCURRANTS – and FIGS.

On the shrub front – the girls have been busily restocking the shrub sales area with all sorts of lovely items – there are some superb CLIMBERS coming through the system – the new growth on the HONEYSUCKLES is really coming along. We also have some nice CLIMBING HYDRANGEAS about to go out on the sales area – it is a busy and wonderful time of the year with new growth pushing on – it is just that it would be nice if this horrid cold wind would go away since it is devastating on the new growth.

There are many nice shrubs about – but one of our favourites is in full glory now – if you think all of the FLOWERING CURRANTS are pink or red – or smell of cats – then you are in for a surprise!! There is a cracker – a little -known plant called RIBES ODORATUM – THE BUFFALO CURRANT. (SEE THE PHOTO OF THE FLOWERS ABOVE) This has yellow flowers – not red – and it has a WONDERFUL SPICY SCENT – these are followed in some years – by BLACK BERRIES – so with the glossy shiny foliage as well – you have a highly desirable shrub – I think everybody should have one!!

A lot of customers coming into the nursery this week – are asking about winter damage to their EVERGREEN SHRUBS. I mentioned this once before – with the harshest winter weather for 30 years in Suffolk – many of the evergreen shrubs are still recovering. In my own garden – there have been lots of broken branches and twigs – and twisted stems – on the evergreens where the snow and ice has been bearing them down. A little snipping here and there will sort those out – but other less sheltered areas have seen people lose plants completely.

While it is not surprising that sub-tropical plants such as Yuccas and Cordylines have perished – some gardeners are telling us that they have lost large specimens of Viburnum tinus and Mahonias even! I think that it is worth waiting until the end of May before condemming anything totally!! It may well resprout – but until the weather changes totally – they will remain in dormancy – so give the poor old things a bit longer!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

RICHARD

BARE-ROOT ASPARAGUS NOW IN!

By Jill | April 9th, 2010

Hello – the Asparagus has arrived – and is now on sale!!
We have excellent quality F1 Male Hybrids – two varieties – GIJNLIM and BACKLIM. These are really so much better than the old varieties we used to have.
Being male only – they do not have to spend their time and energy producing berries on the female fern.
The photo here shows how large the crowns are – ideally they should not have any spears pulled in their first year – but many of our customers tell us that they sneak a few!!
By getting your crowns in during the next few weeks – look at the photo of these lovely spears you will soon be enjoying!!
We do also offer a full AFTERCARE and HOW TO GROW leaflet – as well as RECIPES – so the full package!! Demand always outstrips supply – so if you would like to have a go at growing ASPARAGUS this spring – get down to the nursery and grab them while you can!!
UNTIL NEXT TIME,
RICHARD

NEW SPECIMEN STOCK IN!!

By Jill | April 9th, 2010

Hello – a busy old time here at the nursery at the moment!! We have just had an extra delivery of SPECIMEN shrubs and conifers onto our sales areas.

The cold winter has meant that many people have lost prized shrubs – and are looking to replace them – but with a sizeable plant to fill the space!!

We have got some nice mature CONIFERS -particularly CUPRESSUS ‘GOLDCREST’ -in a range of sizes – as well as the lovely blue JUNIPERUS ‘SKYROCKET’.

Ther are some new BAMBOOS – and LAURELS in two different sizes offer instant evergreen hedging or screening or space-filling.

We are also very excited about some lovely PITTOSPORUM that we have managed to find. We have the sought-after PURPLE-LEAVED form – this really is an absolute beauty!! It does need a sheltered spot though – so does the other one we have – ‘IRENE PATTERSON’ – this has creamy-green wavy leaves – just so pretty!! Both of these are evergreen reliable shrubs – that are excellent for flower-arranging and general planting.

There are large specimen EUCALYPTUS TREES – excellent for screening purposes – and we also have other large evergreen shrubs such as the ever-popular PHOTINIA ‘RED ROBIN’ – and the Portugese Laurel – PRUNUS LUSITANICA.

Back by popular demand are the large specimen CEANOTHUS – these are always snapped up!! Also another of our popular lines are the instant SPECIMEN WALL-FANS of CLEMATIS, CEANOTHUS AND HONEYSUCKLE. These are ideal to pop-in if you want to clothe a wall or fence overnight!!

All of these are now on our sales areas – so while the ground is still in good condition for planting – get forward – and restock your garden!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME,
RICHARD

END OF THE MAIL-ORDER SEASON

By Jill | April 9th, 2010

Hello – with the warm weather – and plants now considerably advanced – our mail-order service is about to come to a close.

We can still send out ASPARAGUS and the odd dormant tree or shrub – but particularly FRUIT trees are now so forward in leaf and blossom – that they are likely to suffer damage in transit. If you are desperate to get a tree – do give the office a ring – BUT EVEN WE CANNOT HOLD BACK NATURE AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME,
RICHARD

BLOSSOM BEAUTIES!!

By Jill | April 9th, 2010

Hello – what a lovely week! Here in Suffolk – it has been an absolutely gorgeous week on the weather front – blue skies and warm. It is typical of course that it improved after the Easter holiday – when we had all gone back to work!!

But – never mind! The recent warmth has prompted the Prunus and the many other blossom trees to begin their season of glory. There are so many beauties in this family – it is hard sometimes to know which to go for – but the few below are some of the favourites of the Crown Nursery staff.
The one above here is the gorgeous PLUM-APRICOT HYBRID – PRUNUS X BILIRIANA. A superb blossom – very large and semi-double – but with the added bonus of purple summer foliage – so it has everything you could want!!
If you favour white blossom – then the photo on the left here is PRUNUS ‘UMENIKO’. Another cracker – I particularly like the pink ‘eye’ to the flower – nice!! It is one of the new generation of cherries – with a longer lasting flower – and excellent autumn colour.
We actually have a SPECIAL OFFER on these this spring!! Normally they are on at £36.00 – for approx a 6ft tree – but at the moment they are just £28.00!! A BARGAIN FOR SURE!!

Another tree that is in full flower at the moment is PRUNUS DULCIS – the ALMOND. The blossom is as pretty as you can get – and of course – if it is a good summer – you will also actually get some ALMONDS in the autumn!!
The colour of the flowers of these is just wonderful – and they so stand out against the sky on a sunny day.

But I have left my favourite until last!! The lovely photo on the left here is PRUNUS ‘ACCOLADE’. If ever a plant deserved it’s name – it’s this one!! It has won many awards over the years – and is one of the most reliable cherries of them all. Just look at this lovely photo taken the other day of a tree on the TREE WALK – against a typical Suffolk Blue sky. Gorgeous dark pink buds open to large single pink flowers – which hum with bees on a warm day. If you are really lucky – you will get small red cherries in late summer – for the birds rather than for us – and then orange and red autumn colour – it is one of the new generation cherries that have been bred for a longer flowering season – since it flowers first on old wood and then on the younger branches too. THERE WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR IN A TREE???
With the ground full of moisture – and the season running behind – you can still plant a container-grown tree of one of these crackers this spring – just try and get them in by the end of the month if you can.
FILL YOUR GARDEN WITH BLOSSOM THIS SPRING!!
UNTIL NEXT TIME,
RICHARD

HAPPY EASTER!!

By Jill | April 1st, 2010

Hello – We would like to wish all our customers – both old and new a very HAPPY EASTER!!

The weather seems more like winter than spring – but that is just typical of the time of the year! Just when we all have some time off to do stuff in our own garden – it looks like being a wet one!!

Never mind – we can only hope they have got it wrong!!

REMEMBER – DUE TO LOCAL PLANNING RESTRICTIONS – THE NURSERY IS CLOSED OVER THE BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND – FROM FRIDAY TO MONDAY INCLUSIVE – AND WILL REOPEN ON TUESDAY 6TH APRIL AT 9AM.
UNTIL NEXT TIME,
RICHARD

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