Tag: back garden

The First Day of Spring

The First Day of Spring

 

Today, 20th March 2016, is officially the first day of spring in the UK.

Well, winter seems to still be keeping a cold grip so far. with only two or three sunny warmer days last week.

Yesterday morning, I was sitting in our back garden reading and drinking a breakfast coffee, when I spotted delightful House Sparrows frenetically flying about among our garden bushes, looking for food and more importantly for them, nesting material to build their nests. I have watched starlings do the  same too.

Three Robins collecting nest material in our garden

Male House Sparrows foraging for nesting material – photo by PH Morton

This activity always signals that spring is in the air, especially for nesting birds;)

I witness the antics of the birds coming to grips with various sizes of twigs, dried grass/leaves and other suitable material foraged from our and other local gardens.

Some birds seem daft as they hold the material in their beaks, then get the urge to communicate with other birds tweeting away nearby, and so drop their hard-won twig etc often from our house roof gutter!

Each spring, sparrows used to nest in a small hole in the eaves of our house roof in our back garden. These sparrows were subsequently dispossessed by larger starlings, who will once again move in this year.

We are fortunate to have a reasonable size population of House Sparrows in our local gardens as sadly they are in decline in many parts of the UK.

We think that having many bushes, and some trees in our and neighbouring gardens which provide food, safe habitation and location for nests for garden birds helps keeps the local sparrow population stable

We also have our garden robins, who also nest in the bushes.

Our pet budgerigar hears these birds singing through the window and will noisily cheep & twitter back 🙂

Autumn Apple Harvest

Autumn Apple Harvest

 

October is here and we have just collected the autumn apple harvest from our two small potted apple trees in our back garden/yard.

They are ‘Jonagold’ sweet and a little bitter to taste and  delicious.

Ideally you should have at least two potted apple trees near each other to allow cross fertilisation. We find each year that one tree produces more apples than the other.

One of our October 2015 harvest of apples

One of our October 2015 harvest of apples: photo PH Morton

 

One small pot  tree on its own will produce less or no apples in some years.

There are about 7.500 varieties of apples and  cooking apples are used to  make delicious apple pie.

The apple trees produce beautiful blossom in the summer

Ants drinking in abpple blossom after the rain

Apple Blossum on our trees with ants drinking rainwater after a shower : photo PH Morton

We normally get about 30+ apples from the trees each year, October in the UK is general harvest time for farmers and keen gardeners. The cold frosts of winter are nearing in November and December.

We give some apples to our good friend/neighbour Mick, who provides us with a  bounty of vegetables from his allotment throughout the year.

 

 

Autumn Apples

Autumn apples are arriving.

Our two small apple trees planted near each other  in separate pots which we keep in our back garden near the kitchen window, are again bearing fruits as they have done every year since we got them quite cheaply from a local garden centre. We recommend that if you are buying small apple trees to be planted in pots, get at least two and locate the potted trees near each other.  This is to encouraged polination which would result to fruiting.

Autumn Apples

We have found that alternatively each year, one of the trees will normally yield 30 + apples, whilst the other one will struggle with only a few, typically half a dozen?

This could be down to cross pollination by bees, wasps etc., hence having at least two trees, one should always bear a lot of apples annually.

gala apple from our tree

gala apples from our tree and above you can see a small garden spider web weaved around the branches. 

nearly ripe apples on our tree small potted apple tree

Our two potted apple trees, note the furthest tree has only one lonely apple on it’s branch this year.

Our apples are of the Gala variety.

Normally  in the UK,  October is generally harvest time, apples included. Apple trees in pots need regularly watering in high summer when there is no rain.  It is wonderful to watch an apple develop and grow from early summer to autumn.   To see if an apple is ripe and ready to pick just before it falls to the ground and could get spoiled, hold the apple in your hand and pull/tug  it very lightly and it will detached itself easily from the small  branch holding it without much effort.

Our cute & mischievous terrier is always about to pounce upon fallen apples and even those lower ones still attached to the trees 😉

Sometimes we spray the growing apples with soapy water (a very ecological way) to keep off bugs and not make the apple inedible.

The apples are ready for traditional game ‘apple bobbing’ on Halloween.  🙂

There is a superstition regarding a fun game called bobbing for apples.  It involves catching one of the floating apples in a big tub of water.  Anyway, it is said that the bigger the apple you get, the greater the fortune that would befall you.  Nice!

…….

Did you know?

Gala is Great Britain’s favourite apple!  This apple originated in New Zealand.

The gala was named after the Queen (QEII) following her visit to New Zealand.

Apples originally came from the Middle East more than 4,000 years ago.

Apples are high in fibre.

The apples on the above top of the trees ripen first.

An apple is ready to be harvested when you hold it, give it a gentle thug and come away from the tree.

How to keep apples?

Keep them in the fridge or some cold dark place, this way they will stay fresher longer.

Apple ‘Christmas Tree’, Natural Decorations

Today 14 December, a clear colder but nice and sunny Saturday, we took our dog for a walk early afternoon. We came to a neighbour’s garden and were amazed to see in her back garden the apple tree with each branch still loaded with ripened apples. As we are now in early winter and apples here are normally ripe and ready to eat in October, the tree’s leaves have fallen as normal but unusual to see so many apple remaining. We have had a good summer and mostly mild autumn so far.

The apples were shining in the afternoon sun. We thought of natures Christmas tree with baubles;)

Apples in Winter photo by PH Morton

Apples in Winter phote by PH Morton

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Apple Christmas Tree Photo by PH Morton

Apple Christmas Tree Photo by PH Morton

Scented Sunny Sunday

Barry Party 006

Lovely Lavender blooms in our garden
photo by PH Morton

Scented Sunny Sunday

We have news that the weather will be turning for the worst from this evening till tomorrow. Apparently the wind will be a real gale force.  Jean may rearrange her work days and not go to work if it is really blowy.  It could be dangerous and hazardous, if the weather reports become reality. I don’t want her crossing the double carriageway of the busy Hendon Way and taking off in a gust of wind. 🙁

We have been lucky and had three mainly warm sunny and mild weeks from the beginning of October, as normally it is colder, wet & windy.

At this moment  it is windy but bright and sunny.  After this blog, Jean & I shall go out into our garden to hang the laundered clothes.

Lavender is a favourite scent of Jean.  She loves her Jo Malone’s Amber and Lavender cologne I got for her in Barcelona, which by the by she is almost running out of.  I hear hints for a Christmas present 😉 Be good Jean as Father Christmas is watching you 😉

We have a lot of lavender bushes near our front and back garden doors. The aroma from the flowers as well as from the leaves and stalks is wonderful.Just walking and brushing pass a lavender bush brings out a marvelous and aromatic scent to the surrounding air.

Apparently Lavender is from the mint family and its scientific name is Lavandula. It is used in so many ways, medical, perfumery, cooking, aid sleep, flower arranging and is also a deterrent to slugs and snails.

Below is a charming English folk song about Lavender, I remember from my childhood.

Enjoy and wishing you A Good Sunday Mid-Morning and peaceful week ahead 🙂