Archive for the ‘plants’ Category

Tree Lines

Perthshire lowground is famous for tree lines within field boundary hedges.    It is an attractive landscape feature.    However, dutch elm disease killed off the elms over the years, and the existing trees – mainly ash, oak and sycamore are getting older.    Each year, more are lost to storms, and bits blow off them.   Farmers tend not to like these hedgerow trees as they shade crops and snag on the combine and tractors as they drive by, so they tend not to get replaced.

However, on balance I am prepared to put up with the inconveniences, and value special landscape features.   So I am pleased to announce a planting of 35 new hedgerow trees this week – a mix of oak and ash.    The local Farm and Forestry Wildlife Advisory Group have supplied trees, tubes and posts.    It is rather a dynastical project, but hopefully these trees will be good for 100 years or so.

It is quite a thought.

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Now I know that there are lots and lots of people out there who have not got round to planting their daffodil bulbs, simply because of the large number of visitors finding their way to this Blog by keying in ‘late daffodils’ or something like that.

I have planted late daffodil bulbs for a couple of years now – i.e. planting them in January and February when the bulbs themselves have begun to sprout.    It is probably not recommended practice but they have all come up OK.      

True to form, I was out planting more at the end of January, and I found 5 bags worth in my cool-but-not-frosty store.    Now, on the bags was a special offer of 2 for 1, so I knew that there must be another bag somewhere, but I could not find it.    We had a massive clear out of old newspapers and magazines to the recycling place this week, and hiding within the pile of magazines was …..well you can guess.

I’ll get them in this week, and keep you posted on progress.

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Beech Tree Fire

Last weekend a dogwalker phoned to tell me that some local Neds had been up in the woods above our village park having a drinking party, and setting fire to a tree.

I went to look, and the tree was still smouldering.    Called the Fire Brigade, and we had to get a tree surgeon in as well to allow access to the burning bits.    It took about 2 hours to get it out.   That’s four firemen that the taxpayer has to pay, and one tree surgeon I have to pay, for although very much part of the community woodland, when push comes to shove, it is my tree.

So this 150 year old big beautiful beech tree will probably not survive.   And nobody does anything about it.   The police are simply not interested or can’t cope – they are a very thin blue line indeed in rural Perthshire, and have other priorities – like speeding traffic – to deal with.   Clearly environmental damage is not top of the pile.

Apart from losing a beautiful tree that has been there since Queen Victoria came to the throne, it is the inaction and total lack of any collective community responsibility that makes me so angry.     Also, if I were to cut down a healthy tree, the Forestry Commission could take me to court for doing so, as cutting down a healthy tree is an offence (there are exceptions – trees in gardens, dangerous trees etc.)    

But if the local Neds want to kill a big healthy tree, nobody bats an eyelid.  

Access to the countryside is well and good (and I am a farmer in favour of public access) but this comes with responsibilities.   Who is there to police this when it all goes wrong?    Nobody, it seems.

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Fruit Nets

We have a fruit bed in the garden with strawberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and blueberries.   Despite the horrible cold east wind all last week, things are ripening in the strawberry world, so it was been time to look out the net this afternoon.

Quite a few years ago now, we were on holiday in Fife and bought some fisherman’s net which has done the business year on year, keeping the birds off.    We also cut some 8 ft sycamore poles, and planted them and put jam jars over the tops.    It is a great system.

I have to confess that we are still emptying the freezer of last year’s strawberries – they are great on muesli in the mornings.

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It is finally time to cut down the daffodils.   They have been slowly dying off this past month, and the vegetation round them has been growing rank.   I use a strimmer with a metal blade fitted which is pretty effective, and gives protection against the main hazard of the job.

Of course, one of the hazards of cutting daffodils down in what is a dog walking area is that dogs find the long grass attractive for two particular reasons.     A normal strimmer minces up the grass and anything else and throws it about in a sort of aerosol for the non grassy components.   Pretty nasty.   A blade simply cuts through the grass and daffodils.

Anyway, it is all looking a bit tidier tonight.     The daffodils that were planted in february did really well and provided a great show.   They flowered slightly later than the others, but were otherwise fine.

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Pruning Climbing Roses

We have a few climbing roses here, and very wonderful they look in the summer.    We have heavy soil, which roses like.   But it means that they grow big and strong – so big and strong that the shoots can get up underneath the slates unless drastic action is taken.

This is a good time of year to really sort them out, and this year has seen the need for major surgery, as they were too stemmy at the bottom and flowering 12 feet up.  (and the rest).       (I also need to remove huge shoots post first flowering).

So they are now tied in to the wires lower than they were, and have had quite a bit taken away.     It is a bit of an acquired skill, and I am a complete amateur at this.     It is funny how drawings in gardening books and on websites show perfect roses which are so far from the jungly things I am attempting to tame it is laughable.

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How late can you plant daffodils, I wonder?  

Last year, I planted some in February, and they came up fine, if a bit late.   We had a very cold and long spring, and all the daffodils were late, but the February planted ones were slightly later.

I have just finished planting 20kg of mixed daffodils and narcissi.   Some of the bulbs were sprouting very slightly – as they were last year.   One advantage of planting them this late is being able to throw out the bad bulbs from the batch – not too many, but a few that would not have grown if I had planted them in October/November like you are supposed to do.    They had been stored cool and dry.

This year, we have had daffodil bulbs peeping out since December, which is very unusual.    The snow and frost last week has slowed them up a bit.

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