Frost and Frondescence, Mayday 21

The first of May was a misty morning, with fog rolling elegantly down the valley, and frost on our neighbour’s shed roof. I meant to post a ‘Six on Saturday’ but didn’t quite get to it, so here’s seven garden things for Sunday.
Cherry blossom! This is a cherry “Hedelfinger,” an old German cherry cultivar. I planted it out as a bare root last January, and this is the first time I’ve noticed it blossom.
Cherry Blossom

I’ll get this cherry a nice big pot to live in. I have no idea if it’s on a dwarfing rootstock or could grow over 20m tall! So I don’t want to plant it too close to the house, and I’m not quite sure where it belongs for the long term.

There were no cherries last year from this tree last year. I’m not even sure if it blossomed. It’s a sweet cherry called hedelfinger, which is not a self-fertile variety, so I’ll have to hope that this year a busy bee pops by a neighbour’s cherry tree and then visits our garden with some useful pollen. Or maybe I’ll pop round to a neighbour’s with paintbrush to obtain a bit of cherry pollen. That wouldn’t be at all peculiar.

The wildflower meadow has begun to flower! This pink bloom is red campion.

We’ve planted meadowturf on what had been a mostly unsuccessful vegetable bed. It’s a spot which is overshadowed and out-competed by the neighbour’s massive laurel hedge. I’d planted various seeds and plug plants into the area, my husband made valiant efforts with a potato patch here, but nothing really did well, thanks the that neighbouring enormous laurel, which is approximately three miles long and twelve feet tall, and sucks all light, water and nutrients from the surrounding area.

We bought wildflower turf suitable for shady areas, we planted this meadowturf in mid-March, and it contains…

Autumn hawkbit
Birdsfoot trefoil
Cat’s ear
Common knapweed
Common toadflax
Common sorrel
Common vetch
Dame’s violet
Field scabious
Kidney vetch
Lady’s bedstraw
Meadow cranesbill
Meadow vetchling
Meadow buttercup
Musk mallow
Oxeye daisy
Pepper saxifrage
Ragged robin
Red campion
Ribwort plantain
Rough hawkbit
Salad burnet
Tufted vetch
White campion
Wild carrot
Wild marjoram
Wild mignonette
Wood sage
Yellow rattle
Sheeps fescue
Crested dogstail
Yellow oatgrass

Some of these are wildflowers that I recognise, a few are ones I recognise and can even put a name to, such as the red campion: It’s got downy leaves, pretty crinkled pink petals, and it comes out as the bluebells begin to fade.

Apparently, folklore tells that red campion flowers guard bees’ honey stores, as well as protecting fairies from being discovered. And, obviously, I wouldn’t tell the internet if there were fairies at the bottom of the garden. Allow me to distract you with this wonderful peacock butterfly (not a fairy).

We’re making a big change at the bottom of the garden, installing a large raised pond.

At the moment, it looks more like the entrance to an underground bunker, but these steps are to provide shelves for planting at different depths, and I’m hoping that once it’s stained, filled and planted it will become an attractive feature. We’re hoping to make a pond that is primarily ornamental but also attractive for birds and insects, and is deep enough that any frogs that hop in from next door’s pond are not frozen to death in winter.

We’ve never had a pond before, so this will be a new experience in gardening, and I want to install a solar powered pump to get a little movement in that water. This is very much at the browsing stage, but it looks like a solar system for a small pond in the UK should be plausible.

Strawberries in a hanging basket. Beat that slugs!

Most years I plant a few strawberries, and most years the slugs and snails get to them before I do. This year, I’ve planted a few strawberry runners into a hanging basket, which I reckon will keep the slugs away, but does put them in the perfect position for the birds to peck at! But if I remember to net them perhaps there’s a chance of strawberry success this year.

Here’s a spot in the garden with some of the textures and plants I love most. In the background, our garden chairs with their wonderful patina of lichen, some forget-me-nots, and the weird big terracotta egg that we found in the overgrowth. On the table, a terracotta pot planted with succulents, saxifrage and few pinks, which is one of my favourite little pots that we picked up at a farmers market in Tottenham, before we left London for Somerset.

Saxifrage and succulents

Well, that would have been my six for Saturday, but as it’s Sunday I’ll sneak in one more thing from the garden, and that’s the unfurling leaves on the twisted hazel. The fancy term for when leaves unfurl is ‘frondescence’ and the twisted hazel is my favourite tree for unfurling. The form of this tree is fantastic, it has a wonderful skeleton of wiggly stems, and it’s been covered with catkins for months. In the last few days, as the days have got longer and warmer, the leaves began to unfurl, and in just a few days the whole tree will be lush and verdant.

So that’s my seven things this sunday. Better late than never I suppose!

I hope that your plans and plants are unfurling satisfactorily, and your garden grows well.

Jen x

2 thoughts on “Frost and Frondescence, Mayday 21

  1. Ah, cherry blossoms! Cherries were one of the main crops in the orchards of the Santa Clara Valley a very long time ago. Apricots were most common, and I believe that prunes were the second most common, with cherries as the third most common. Weirdly, I remember only sweet cherries. Most of us remember only sweet cherries. Without historical documentation, we do not know if the tart cherries were just removed earlier, or were not commonly grown here. (We know that peaches were grown around Los Gatos, but no one remembers them because they were so close to downtown that they were the first orchards to be removed to relinquish their space for urban development.) When I was a kid, and the last of the orchards were in the process of being removed, a few sweet cherry trees were grown in home gardens. Because they were so popular, and there were still a few orchard trees around, pollinators were not much of a concern.

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