Seeds and Books

I just added a list of the seeds I have lined up so far for 2016/7. As usual, it’s a bit long on plants that might be classified elsewhere as weeds, but had some traditional value in the past.

It’s a bit short on veg so far since I haven’t done the order yet. I did find a lot of left over seed from last year while reorganising today though, so I might not need that much if they’re still good.

I also picked up some very old gardening books on atrip yesterday to the garden centre. There was  box of old books with a sign saying ‘please take’, so I did.

Planting Fruit Trees, by Roy Genders

Seeing the way people used to think about specific topics is quite interesting. There’s no publication date anywhere I can find, but Mr Genders apparently regarded M4 as the best semi-dwarf rootstock for apples, M1, M2 or the ‘new’ M3 as semi-vigorous, and the ‘new’ M25 as a very robust choice. He also included a description of the heritage ‘Cockle Pippin’ variety we planted a year ago, which doesn’t feature in any but the most comprehensive books now, in the ‘For December to January’ section:

Like so many russets, at its best over Christmas, this is an extremely hardy variety. The fruit is sweet and aromatic, the skin being almost an orange colour, shaded with dull russet-brown. Its fruit reaches a good size only in a heavy loam, and should be thinned. Raised in Surrey about 1800, and at one time extensively grown in Surrey and Sussex.

The comment about soil requirements is something interesting I hadn’t read elsewhere. It’s the sort of thing that gets forgotten when varieties are rarely grown and reduced to the odd tree from Brogdale scionwood. No-one remembers anymore why these old varieties lost favour, or the trade-offs in growing them.

Service Resumes

We’re delighted to inform you that normal service is now resuming as winter draws to a close.

Our garden is not a great winter garden. Most food plants grown in the UK are deciduous, and I’m not a fan of most evergreen ornamentals. I hate the plastic, barren look and feel of most bread-leaved evergreens and hate conifers, so almost everything apart from the grass and a few herbs dies back, leaving a bare and brown space.

Luckily, though, perennials get going earlier in the year than almost any annual. The spring ephemerals are coming in of course, but the various alliums are also quick to start. After years getting established, Babington’s leek has now self-seeded around one corner with abandon and is popping up everywhere, and nearby the lungworts and lenten roses are in flower. On the other side of the house, the true roses are also now showing green shoots.

This afternoon I planted the first batch of seeds since the autumn sowings for stratification, and played with my son in the garden. Everything is still slow, but things are happening, and it feels good.

Spring ephemerals in bloom

Spring ephemerals in bloom

Babington's leeks - old plants and self-seeded bulbils are everywhere

Babington’s leeks – old plants and self-seeded bulbils are everywhere

Lungwort in bloom

Lungwort in bloom

Hellebores brightening up dreary winter days

Hellebores brightening up dreary winter days

Rose shoots

Rose shoots