Six on Saturday: tiny oak, treacleberry, new bed, old tools, snapdragon, birds & trees

We’ve not had a frost yet, which seems a bit late in the year. The leaves on the little oak tree are nicely yellow, and so I’ve put this pot into a prominent spot at the front of the pond, with the lobelia that’s just about still in flower. There’s not enough sunshine for the fountain to bubble yet, but Gog, the fountain sentinel, is standing firm. (Well, actually he’s hanging from a drawing pin, but his presence is mighty until that bit of string holding him up breaks).

The treacle berry is looking fantastic – it’s finally finished flowering, and its ripe with these dark brown berries. They have a treacly taste at first, followed by a weirdly bitter flavour. But the birds seem to like them.

I want to plant a new rose bed for next year. We’ll make it in the spot where we let the lawn grow long by the back door.

My lovely husband has cut back the grass, and I’ll plant bare root roses here this winter. There’s an offer at David Austin that expires next week so I’d better get my skates on and place an order. It does seem weird paying upwards of £20 for a big spiky stick, but all the David Austin roses I’ve bought over the years have done pretty well, and it’s a much cheaper and more sustainable option than buying potted roses in flower – often bringing plastic and peat into the garden.

When we first left London, about five years ago the plan was spend more time in the garden, and less in the office. We sold up and quit the city, hoping for a bit less of the rat race and more of the good life. The plan has evolved a little bit, I’ve ended up working part time from home at a sustainable timber business, and volunteering with a forest school.

The ‘plan’ at the moment is to create a lovely garden without costing the earth.

Yesterday, Gardeners’s Question time on radio 4 was a special about the environmental impact of how we garden in the UK.

It talked about the carbon costs of power tools and heated greenhouses, pollution from petrol mowers, and the impact of plastic and peat and our environment. One suggestion that I liked, and we’ve used here, is to repair and resuse old handtools. They’re great for smaller jobs, and I kinda like the aesthetic too. Old tools often turn up at vintage markets and junk shops, and some of them are really effective and were built to last.

There is a tiny splash of colour from this snapdragon. It’s raggedy but resilient.

I took the cover off the bench this morning, for a little sit down to watch the birds.

Recently I’ve seen robins, blue tits and a jay eating from these feeders. And I don’t have a decent photo of any of them!

Finally, I’m bringing my work life into my garden blog once again.

During COP26 there’s been lots of talk about tree planting, and how it is not a simple answer to the problem of global warming.

If you have a few minutes, please watch both these films – the first from Ros Atkins looks at the global issues, and the film posted below it from Vastern Timber (which I helped to make) shows ideas from people working with trees about how to help Britain’s forests grow.

I’ve given myself the onerous task of writing a blog post for each of the 12 suggestions in our film, wood for the trees.

I’ve posted five so far, with two more scheduled and five more to do. My boss asked if I was regretting this plan, and the answer was yes, but I’m still glad to have done it. It would be even better if a few more people read them.

Anyhoo, thats’ me done for the week. I’m off to order some roses.

See more ‘six on Saturday’ at the propagator’s blog.

PS- I forgot to mention my other ‘thing’ which is forest school and tree planting plans. I’m part of the team at Shared Earth Learning, and we’re putting on two tree planting sessions this month to restore hedgerow along the Mendip Way. Join us on 13th and 27th November. More info on our blog!

J x

8 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: tiny oak, treacleberry, new bed, old tools, snapdragon, birds & trees

  1. Thank you! I have seen a recipe that uses treacle berries to make fig rolls, but I don’t think they’d be very nice! Thanks for taking a look at the forest ideas. 🙂


  2. We are farmers and when we bought the farm, nearly twenty years ago, our dream was to re-forest it. To date we’ve planted about 800 native trees of many varieties, taking advantage of non-drought years. For us, it IS the answer to climate change, apart from changing our farm machinery and domestic vehicles to electric as it becomes available. The state we live in is powered entirely by hydro power for which we thank the stars. Our ability to bring pressure to bear on coal and fossil fuel industries is negated by our conservative government which is wholly aligned with heavy industry. But we HAVE to do something and this is our way.
    Being a gardener, I do think pressure needs to be placed upon the gardening industry as a whole for their relentless and wasteful use of plastics. Plastic pots, tubes, bags etc etc. For an industry that has the potential to make a HUGE mark in the way we lesser folk move into a kinder world, they are way behind the eight-ball.


    1. Thank you so much Prue for your thoughtful comments. I wish I could purchase a bit of land, but I think that realistically it’s beyond my finances! Please tell me more about how your trees are doing, and also, if you like, take a look at this video, about a small-holding in near my hometown, where they use agroforestry and agro-ecology principles, and where we host ‘forest school’ sessions for kids to learn about nature. It might ‘ring a bell’ with your outlook!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Treacle is a wonderful word! It’s a dark molasses, with a bitter, burnt kind of flavour.
      When I was a kid we had homemade treacle toffee, which was a dark, sugary confectionary that could be hard like crystal, or sticky like honey, depending on how the cooking went that day!

      Treacle is also a cockney term of affection, as in ‘Alright treacle, how’s your father?’

      Unfortunately, and kind of inevitably, the brand of treacle I know best is ‘Lyles’ was/is a UK based importer of sugar cane, historically involved in the slave trade, and it does not have a sweet history. But despite all that I find ‘treacle’ delicious, and can send you a fantastic recipe for ‘parkin’ which is a traditional cake made with oats and treacle, often served in November.

      Thanks for your comments Tony, I hope your garden grows well this season 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you, but I never learned how to cook or bake. I can grow just about anything, and just might procure some types of sugar, but must rely on someone else to cook it. Molasses is a weird dietary supplement I use for magnesium and manganese. I mix it with apple cider vinegar to make switchel. It is not the switchel that a recipe is necessary for. Seriously, it is just molasses, vinegar and water, without ginger or any of the other fancy ingredients that people put in it nowadays.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I should investigate this further though. I am sort of wondering if what I know as molasses is actually a type of treacle. I have not grown sugar cane here, but would like to bring some back from Los Angeles County. It should survive here, even if it does not get warm enough to produce anything. Sorghum should be easier, but it is also a sugar that I am unfamiliar with.

        Liked by 1 person

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