Spring Blossom never ceases to amaze me. The fact that huge, sturdy, solid trees can create something so delicate, fragile and perfect as their blossom is one of the wonders of the natural world.
Cherry Blossom or ‘Sakura’ is the national flower of Japan. There, Cherry Blossom viewing or ‘Hanami ‘ is a national obsession and there are nightly TV programmes during the flowering time with maps showing where the flush of colour or ‘Spring Snow’ has reached as it moves northwards across the country from late January in the south to early May in the extreme north.
Blossom buds form in sunshine and by flowering on bare branches the flowers are more likely to be pollinated by wind or insects before the leaves come out and cover them.
Fruit trees have some of our most obvious blossom – think of Apple, Plum, Pear or Hawthorn with their candy-floss pink or white flowers but how many of you have noticed the lime-green blossom on a Sycamore tree which is so easily mistaken for the first flush of leaves, or the purple-brown flowers on a Wych Elm, the white and red-flushed blossom on a Crab-Apple tree or silky-smooth, furry buds of the Goat Willow or Pussy-Willow most often associated with Easter. You can read about some of our native blossoming trees here and you may recognise some of them.
Preparing for the growing season
April is a busy month in the garden as we have been feverishly planting vegetable and flower seeds in the polytunnels and getting the soil prepared for planting in the new garden. The first beds of potatoes are already sown with ‘Charlotte’ – a waxy, salad potato and ‘Picasso’ – a good tattie for baking and mash and, with luck, we will have some tasty spuds to harvest by early August.
In another couple of weeks, once the danger of a late frost is past, we will plant out our beans and courgettes.
It is really satisfying to watch as the plants begin to flourish and the bare soil disappears as the vegetable garden takes shape. The rhubarb is up, blackcurrants and gooseberries are flowering and before long the apple trees will be in bloom. The gardening year is well underway.
Try your hand at growing
Plants will grow anywhere. If you don’t have a garden you can still grow some herbs on your windowsill or in large pots at your door.Try growing potatoes in a shopping bag or large tub or, turn an empty, cardboard fruit juice carton on its side and cut away one side. Then fill the carton with some compost and use it to grow herbs or lettuce on your windowsill. It is usually possible to buy small pots of herbs at the supermarket, but, if you can, buy packets of seeds instead, they give you more value for your money. Try to place any containers in a warm, sheltered area, where the plants will get sunshine at some point during the day and remember to water them. This is also a great way to get young children interested in growing their own food.
There is plenty of information online about upcycling containers for growing herbs and this link will give you some ideas for starters. https://lovelygreens.com/seed-starting-with-recycled-materials/
Sow and Grow
Alternatively, if you are free, there is still time to come along to our weekly ‘Sow and Grow’ sessions at Bannockburn House starting on May 7th. Hands on teaching sessions will be combined with some practical work in developing productive gardens so that you can learn some basic gardening skills for food and flower growing.
To enroll, email Amanda at [email protected]