LATE SUMMER COLOUR!!

By Jill | August 28th, 2009

Hello, well here we are – August Bank Holiday Weekend – and with the dry conditions many of our gardens look rather parched. Don’t worry about the lawn though – that will recover with cooler temperatures and rain – but there are still a number of shrubs and also a few trees coming into their season of berry that can keep your garden looking good far into September and beyond.

Firstly there are the Mountain Ashes or Rowans – ( see photo above) – their berries seem to have coloured early this year – possibly due to the drought – but they are always one of the first trees of the year to ripen their fruits – blackbirds adore them – particularly the red or orange berried forms. We have a huge range here at the nursery -you can also get yellow, white and pink berried forms – and these tend to retain their fruits long after Christmas.

Also looking fab is another one of my favourites – the first Crab Apple to colour up – MALUS ‘JOHN DOWNIE’ – these fruits are like little shiny flagons – a lovely orangey-red colour – and produced in great profusion. ( see photo below)
As well as this – remember in blossom it would have also looked wonderful too ! The blackbirds also adore that one!
Many of the other crab apples do not start to colour up until a little later.
All of these are relatively small trees – suitable for small gardens and bring good value – providing a long season of interest.
But now into the shrub world –
There are still plenty of good-looking items about – the lovely little BLUE SPIRAEA – Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ is one of them – ( photo above) – a small sub-shrub with aromatic grey-green leaves – and clusters of small blue flowers loved by bees and butterflies. This flowers right into September.
I have always adored Abelias -( photo below )but they are still not widely seen –
I don’t know why because they are lovely semi-evergreen dwarf shrubs – that flower right into October. With glossy leaves and small pink-white flowers with a slight scent -they really are jolly nice!!
Another seldom seen plant we have at the nursery looking really stunning at the moment is the so-called Wall Germander or Teucrium lucidrys. (Photo below) This is evergreen – and smothered with small purple-pink flowers – not unlike Catmint in size and shape – lmuch loved by bees – and also makes an excellent hedge.

There now, that little selection will bring colour to any tired borders!!

Into the apple shed – and I have picked a few more varieties – so new in for tasting this week – are Tydemans Early Worcester and Summered. These are all wonderfully shiny red – although they are a little lacking in flavour but that is always the way with the early apples. Just to pick a red apple off the tree- still warm from the sun is one of the late summer pleasures, so perhaps August is not so bad after all!!!
Until next time,
RICHARD
P.S – REMEMBER THIS IS A BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND – AND DUE TO LOCAL PLANNING RESTRICTIONS – THE NURSERY WILL BE CLOSED FROM SATURDAY 29TH TO MONDAY 31ST AUGUST INCLUSIVE. WE RE-OPEN ON TUESDAY SEPTEMBER IST.

OH FOR SOME RAIN!!

By Jill | August 28th, 2009

Hello – what a dry old time we are having at the moment. It is good for the farmers to finish their harvesting – but here at the nursery we would love to have some rain!

We are fortunate in having an excellent irrigation system – and with some 5,000 trees and plants we need it! In the last few days – we have had temperatures up to 29.5C and nicely accompanied by a strong gale-force wind – the old NURSERYMANS’ NIGHTMARE again!! Here in this part of Suffolk – we are used to drought – the average rainfall is just 19 inches – but most of that seems to come between November and March – I would not really say we have any decent rainfall since the end of March – and some of the plants in the ground – and in our gardens are really beginning to suffer. The Limes and Silver Birches seem to show it first – we think that is due to a relatively shallow root system – and a thin leaf- although again birch is a native of dry sandy soils. I recently saw some newly-planted trees in Peterborough that were virtually in full autumn tint – and on a visit to London the other day- 45 newly-planted Plane Trees along the M25/M11 corridor were completely bare of leaf.

I know it is obvious -but do give your poor old trees a couple of buckets of water in these testing conditions. They also love to have their foliage sprayed over with water late at night – it refreshes them and they can absorb a lot of water through their leaf – we love a shower at the end of a hot day – and so do they!!

Until next time,
RICHARD

THE ‘DOG DAYS’ OF AUGUST

By Jill | August 28th, 2009

Hello, I hate August!! – it is as simple as that. Anybody who works on the nursery knows that Richard does not like the month of August! I never seem to be at my best- the long hot sultry, heavy days – tend to bring on my migraines – and it makes me feel tired and sometimes rather irritable!

The Romans thought much the same – they called the middle of August – the ‘dog days’ – when it was too hot for anything but a dog to go out in the midday sun – bit harsh on dogs I think – but otherwise I am in total agreement!

We all seem to have a particular month we do not enjoy – for all sorts of reasons. Here on the nursery Kevin always seems to dislike January for it’s long dark days – Janet and Liz seem to hate July for different reasons – and Miss Potter – well she seems to thrive in any month and any weather!!

One good thing about August though – it leads onto September – and that IS my favourite month of the year!!
Until next time,
RICHARD

APPLES – A NEW SEASON DAWNS!

By Jill | August 12th, 2009

Hello, – despite the wretched wasps – one of my favourite events of the year has just taken place. The first pickings of the new season apple crop. Today apple DISCOVERY has gone into the apple shed – bright scarlet skin – superb aroma – and a pink-tinged flesh.

Actually – there were two other varieties before the DISCOVERY ripened – but both fell to the wasps and I was not able to save any apples for our customers to try. There was VISTA BELLA – a small red apple – with a delightful strawberry scent to the skin – rather insipid flavour – but for an apple in July – what more could one expect?

The other one that fell to the critters before I could get to them was the old BEAUTY OF BATH. This used to be the first English apple for many a moon – but was very prone to pest and disease before DISCOVERY came along.

The apple shed is situated in the fruit sales area – and is open for anybody to come down and sample the apples that are in season – subject to them all being eaten by customers of course!! We grow nearly 200 different varieties of apple – so actually tasting them for yourself can make it a lot easier to make your selection!!
Over the coming weeks and months – I will add each variety as it comes into it’s season of ripening – that is of course assuming the wretched wasps don’t get there first!!
Until next time,
RICHARD

WASP CITY!!

By Jill | August 12th, 2009

Hello, first it was ladybirds then it was butterflies – now it is wasps!! We are plagued with them – I have been up in the orchard surveying the promise of the new apple crop – and almost every tree seems to have a cluster of the beasties munching away at the fruit.

They seem to be following on from peck marks made by our feathered friends – this is occuring on even unripe fruit. Trouble is it leads to brown rot if they do not hollow the apple out first!!

We have jam jars of sweet stuff hanging from several trees in an attempt to trap them – we are trying various mixes from treacle to raspberry jam to lemon curd – they seem to prefer the lemon curd – actually come to think of it – so do I!!

Until next time,

RICHARD

IT’S BLUEBERRY MUFFIN TIME!!

By Jill | August 7th, 2009

Hello, well into August we go – and a couple of really hot, heavy stifling days here at the nursery. I loathe days like that – everything seems to be an extra bind – and the high humidity just makes everyone feel lethargic.

But – there is always a flip side – and with us it is the beginning of another crop – BLUEBERRIES!! These remain as popular as ever! Despite having been around a few years now – they still feature regularly in magazines – and are considered by some people to be the greatest thing since sliced bread!
I personally would not go that far – but they certainly do taste great in the famed muffin!! We grow several different varieties – from the compact evergreen ‘SUNSHINE BLUE’ to the upright ‘HERBERT’ through to the old but popular variety ‘BLUECROP’ – they are now starting to ripen. We find they pretty much look after themselves – their only requirement being an acid soil or container of ericaceous compost – and some protection from our feathered friends – who do not care whether they are in a muffin or not – and just scoff the lot!!

Wow – doesn’t this photo of a blueberry muffin make your mouth water?? Sometimes a photo never really seems to do something justice – but this one captures the very essence of a tasty muffin!!
Just look at that lovely moist centre!!
I really must stop – and concentrate on something else that we have had a bumper crop of here at the nursery this year – and that is MULBERRIES!! So many people have never tasted a mulberry – let alone seen a tree – but they are one of the most under-rated fruits going. You can get black and white varieties – and if you have the space it is one of those quintessentially english trees that you must have!! (The photo below is of BLACK MULBERRIES). They have a strange sort of dry texture – very sweet in the white form – a larger fruit in the black – you always know when they are beginning to ripen – as the trees will seem to rock backwards and forwards with the weight of blackbirds attempting to feast on the crop! We have a pair – who I swear check the fruit every day from late July onwards!! – they certainly frequently beat me to the first ripe fruit – just leaving a little purple ‘stain’ on the ground below the tree to inform me of their skill!!

Ah, well such is the joy of fruit growing. You know what, that muffin picture has made me peckish – it’s time for tea!!

Until the next time then,

RICHARD

THE WORKING LIFE!

By Jill | August 7th, 2009

Hello, we have been delighted to have an extra pair of hands on the nursery this week. Tom – 15 years old – has been with us for a bit of work experience – sampling the delights of the many different tasks we do.

From getting soaking wet on irrigation testing to potting and weeding – and of course endless hours of watering!! – it is all great fun – and just goes to show there is a lot going on here no matter what the time of year.

We hope we did not frighten young Tom too much – the world of work is a very different life to school!!

Until the next time then,
RICHARD

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