Sunday, 10 December 2017

Tree Following December 2017 - the last leaves

Quince trees are without doubt great trees.  Whilst it is possible to say they might not be the greatest of trees for fruit, nonetheless, they are great trees.  Things to enjoy about these trees are their tendency to be one of the earliest trees to leaf up in my garden and also one of the latest to lose all their leaves.

Quince Major is hanging on to its last leaf.
On the grey winter day I took these photographs, Quince Major was hanging on to its last leaf.  Flag-like it signals to the rest of the garden it is not quite bowing to winter yet.
Meanwhile at the tips of its branches, the buds are protecting the new growth from the bitter cold.  Inside next year's growth it waiting to emerge.  Inside next year's quincelets are pre-forming.  Inside the secret to the quest for a quince 2018 is waiting for its moment to delight (or disappoint....).

A few strides away is Quince Minor,
who quite frankly has a bit blighty looking this year and did not even produce any blossom to speak of.  A late frost hit it hard and it never really recovered.
I peer at the buds forming and hope they too will develop well in the new year.  Quince Minor has now been planted for over a year and so I expect it to mature into the garden more next year.

Thanks to Squirrelbasket  for hosting this small forest of followed trees.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Corylus avellana 'Contorta' I salute you

I think my Corylus avellana 'Contorta', or the contorted Hazel to its friends, must be approaching seventeen years old now.  I bought it from a magazine offer alongside a bamboo and an acer that are now long dead.  The contorted hazel though was made of sterner stuff and whilst not the fastest of growers, it determinedly kept going.

For the first seven years or so the hazel lived in a pot by the front door.  It was probably around 40 cm high and little more than a twisty twig, but I loved it nonetheless.  Fast forward to moving into this house/garden and I decided it was time it found its forever home and was planted into the ground.

The hazel is situated in the Wild Garden close to the top of the garden.  It has now reached about 90 cm or so high but it has filled out well.  It looks good all year round, but in winter when the leaves fall its twisty beauty is fully revealed.
I was wandering around the garden the other day and I stopped to appreciate the hazel.  I walk past it often, but I do not think I pay it attention often enough.  I get a little excited when its tiny red flowers appear, but I have not stood and considered it for quite a while.  It was time that I did.
It currently sports these plump buds, it is settling down for the winter cold and already preparing for the spring.
The male catkins are also forming preparing for breeze to carry their pollen into the flowers.
The twigs are delightfully contorted (hence the name).
It curls and whirls in a wire-like fashion.  When the temperatures really drop the spiralling twigs and branches get picked out carefully by frost which gives it a very structural presence in the garden.  It is what is generally referred to as  'a good doer'.

A good shrub is worthy of acknowledgement - so Corylus avellana 'Contorta' I salute you.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Product Reviews: Some possible gifts for gardeners

I have been sent/given a few things to trial recently and, after consulting the calendar, it felt like a reasonable thing to do to put them together as possible gifts for the gardeners in your lives at a forthcoming festival period that might begin with 'C' (or any other event you may wish to choose).

I begin with these absolutely delightful gardening gloves from Gold Leaf. 
I have been a customer of Gold Leaf for many years.  It is my general habit to buy my gloves from their Chelsea Flower Show stand.  I am a big fan of the Soft Touch and the Winter Touch gloves, they are long lasting and fit well.  I was drawn to these gloves as they had big poppies on them, which just happen to be probably my favourite flower.  Once I had had a good look at them I realised that they were a cut above the usual 'pretty' gloves.  
They have the deerskin reinforced palms and fingers that make Gold Leaf gloves so effective.  The poppies are just one of the RHS Collection that Gold Leaf have recently introduced.  There is also the Hampton which sports a yellow rose which symbolises friendship and the Malvern which is an iris that symbolises hope and wisdom.  The poppy symbolises remembrance.  I have been using these gloves in the garden and they are proving to be as hard wearing as hoped.  The gloves retail at around £14.99

Next up are these very pretty plant 'Cozies' from Keter.
These 'Knit Cozies' come as a set of three and make ideal containers to pop your house plants into.  They are made of durable resin and are easy to keep clean by giving them rinse.  The information for them says they can also be used outside, but I prefer to keep mine indoors.  The set of three retails for around £16.99

Next up is something more practical and if you know someone is thinking of getting a moss rake, then this is a good one.
This is the moss rake from Wolf Garten.  This is from their Multi-Change range, so it could form a 'starter kit'.  When asked to trial this I deliberately chose the wooden handle as I thought it looked the nicest and it is also very comfortable to use.  I am not the tallest of people so sometimes long handles can be annoying, but this one was fine.
Best of all, it works.  I garden on heavy clay and the drainage is often very poor.  There are times when I feel I am growing the national collection of moss. 
As you can see this rake is very effective.  If you do know someone who is looking for a good collection of interchangeable heads/handles in garden tools then I can thoroughly recommend this one.  The moss-rake head retails at around £30 and the handle retails at around £23.

Finally, there is the CarPet Pet Hair Remover.  Now I am going to suggest that this might not be what you buy for someone else, but if you are a fluffy pet owner and you are expecting guests for Christmas though you might wish to consider treating yourself to one.
As an owner of a cat or three, cat fluff is a constant problem and it does resist most efforts to remove it quickly.
This rubber fur-collector works brilliantly.  Yes I know I should not let the cats get on the furniture, but they are impervious to my wishes on this.  The CarPet Pet Hair Remover retails at around £5.

So that is my quick round-up of a few nice things I have found this year. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The train journey

It all began when I was driving from Leicester to Nottingham early one Sunday morning.  The sun was still rising and the light was changing as I drove.  Thankfully it is impossible for me to take photos and drive so whilst I was in raptures as the scenery rolled by, it remains only as memory.

Skip forward a few days and I am on an early train heading to that London and the same thoughts are running through my mind as I am gazing out of the window.  Luckily I was seated where I could see the sun rising so the phone camera was sprung into action.
There is something about the days getting shorter that makes light all the more precious.  Some days are grey and cloudy and the sun hardly seems to shine at all, but some days, like are bright and sunny and these are to be cherished.  Add to this my usual issue this time of year, I do not see my garden in daylight except at weekends so actually seeing some greenery and landscape feeds my parched gardening needs.
As the sun rose the bands of sky colour were held in place by the trees.
The train shifted the position of the sun as it travelled.  The landscape moved up and down changing the light and making the sun more and less visible.

and created shadowy corduroy contours into the fields.
We were travelling at some speed at times making photographs more difficult to take.  We were almost at warp-factor speed here (well that's what it looks like to me anyway).
Houses came and went. On this journey I did not get to spend a lot of time with one of my favourite train past-times, noseying into peoples' gardens.  I love seeing the different sizes and styles of gardens whizz by.  This particular route is not very back-garden rich.
The countryside  give way at times to stations,
and reached our destination with trees still watching us, glowing amber, above the high walls of St Pancras.

I would have loved to have included photos of the way home, the sunset was equally stunning but I was sat on the wrong side of the train..... oh well, next time maybe...