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Monthly Archives: August 2014

  • 2014: A Fruitful Year for Fruit Trees

    After a long wet winter, most areas in the UK have enjoyed a long warm growing season with plenty of sunshine, albeit between the showers! It so happens that these are perfect conditions for fruit trees. At blossom time the weather was generally warm and dry, which has meant a good fruit set in spring. Now, the fruit is ripening, and gardeners can begin to harvest the top fruit.

    However, it is not as simple as just picking the fruit off the trees. There is a right way to go about collecting your fruit, and different fruits must be picked at different times. Plums must be picked as soon as they are ready (and before the wasps get to them) when they are soft to the touch. Apples should be sweet and crunchy and pears must be firm but sweet before they are picked. Windfall from apple trees is often a good indicator of readiness.

    In order to know whether it is the right time to start picking, it is a good idea to take a sample or two first so you know when to start the harvest. If you pick too early, the fruit will not have properly developed and therefore will not be as tasty as possible, but if you pick the fruit too late, it will not keep as well.

    Fruit currently being harvested includes plums, damsons and gages, all of which can be cooked in crumbles and tarts or made into jams. They can even be frozen until winter to save yourself a taste of summer. Figs are also ready to harvest, while medlars and quinces are not far away.

    Harvest times vary from year to year depending on the locality, but this year has seen a trend of top fruit ripening early. In order to make the most from your fruit trees, you must pick the fruit as it ripens. If top fruit is ripening early, picking the fruit from the top first is best. It is also important to pick fruit on a dry day, as moist conditions can cause fruit to spoil faster.

    Plum Victoria, Ripe Fruit Victoria Plums ripe and ready to pick!
    Cambridge Gage, Ripe Fruit, Ripe Gage Cambridge Gages ripening

    For any more tips on harvesting fruit trees, or for any general inquiries, please get in touch with us. The knowledgeable English Woodlands team are available Monday-Friday on 01485 862992, or you can leave an inquiry on our contact page and our team will gladly get back to you. 

  • Attract Bees to your Garden with Ornamental trees

    Whether you like them or not, bees are of critical importance to our environment: they are pollinators for fruit and vegetable crops, and they are producers of honey and other medicinal foods.

    Unfortunately, with the global bee population in decline due to habitat and disease problems, the pollination of fruit trees and cultivation of fruit and vegetables is in jeopardy. Yet garden owners can do something small to counter this, by planting a number of ornamental/fruit trees in their back garden to attract bees, helping them on their way to provide vital food sources and to keep our fruit-bearing trees pollinated.

    Firstly, you may want to be aware that certain flowers are more accommodating to bees than others. Single flowers tend to be your best bet, as they are larger, and therefore more accessible for insects to find the nectar and pollen. In contrast, many double flowered plants do not produce nectar at all.

    It also may be worth maintaining a varied seasonal plan, in which your flowering season stretches from early spring to the very last days of summer. If you plant too early, there is a large chance the pollen will be all used up in a short space of time. Aiming for what we might call ‘staggered interest’, with a variety of perennial plants, will see the flowering season extend from early spring right up until the end of summer, giving the bees a great deal of support over the longest period of time.

    In terms of suitable species for attracting bees to your garden, English Woodlands has a number of suggestions:

    • Spring – ornamental crab apples and pears, such as Malus and Pyrus species
    • Early flowering Cherries such as Prunus cerasifera Nigra
    • Hawthorns such as Crataegus prunifolia and Crataegus Monogyna

    As for summer flowering trees, Tilia lime trees are certainly attractive to bees (although some species are more so than others, for instance, some have a soporific, almost narcotic effect).

    In late spring and early summer, shrubs such as Elder and Cotoneaster cornubia are valuable sources of nectar, while climbers such as Honeysuckle will all variety before the autumn.

    Finally, as late summer gives way to autumn, Arbutus unedo, a strawberry tree, has both flowers used as a pollen source for bees and fruits for birds, while the shrub Elaeagnus ebbingei has small white fragrant flowers, making it a bee-friendly option as a hedge plant.

    arbutus enedo

    For any more tips on which trees are best for attracting bees to your garden, or for any general inquiries, please get in touch with us. The knowledgeable English Woodlands team are available Monday-Friday on 01435 862992, or you can leave an inquiry on our contact page and our team will gladly get back to you.

  • Read Our Selection of the Best Trees For Screening to Protect your Privacy….

    One of the most common problems we hear about our customers’ gardens are their  ‘next door nightmares’ – a term some apply to the likes of unsightly extensions, overlooking windows from other houses, and even trampolines (and trampolining children!)

    The summertime is the time when many of you will have the chance to enjoy your garden in peace and seclusion. Ensuring you have the background you want during the summer season is something well worth planning in advance for.

    Although Autumn to Spring is the traditional tree-planting season, here at the nursery we receive enquiries all year round about screening – and summer is certainly an ideal time to plan for autumn planting.

    We have plenty of screening solutions that will suit your garden preferences, whether you simply want a bit of privacy, if you want to create a haven for wildlife or even if you want to create your own artistic paradise.

     

    Evergreen Trees and Hedge Plants

    When our customers come seeking screening solutions, evergreen plants tend to be a popular choice, due to their year-round endurance.

    Evergreen conifers such as Cupresssocyparis x leylandii (Leyland) are great fast growing plant with thick foliage, that can work well if pruned regularly.

    Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) is a great alternative that you can trim back hard if necessary and it will still regrow.

     

    Alternative Evergreen Options

    Photinia Red Robin and Prunus Lusitanica (Portuguese laurel) are non-conifer evergreens that can achieve a total 5-6m in height, they are hardy and popular hedge plants that many of our customers also grow as standard trees.

    Other non-conifer evergreens include:

    Laurus nobilis (Bay) - great in a sunny well-drained site, and very pruneable

    Ilex (Holly) – a hardy and wind tolerant tree

    Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree)

    Cotoneaster cornubia (Semi-evergreen)

     

    Deciduous trees

    The advantage of using deciduous trees for screening is that there is a lot more variety available. Many of these trees grow quickly, and add foliage, flower and fruit interest.

    Although they lose their leaves, some deciduous trees and hedges have screening advantages. For example, trees that keep their leaves well into autumn such as Crataegus lavallei and Pyrus Chanticleer still give screening in the garden during sunny autumn days; other trees with large leaves such as Acer platanoides varieties provide good foliage cover during summer months when you are most likely to be in the garden; and trees with well branches crowns such as Crataegus – hawthorns - give some filtered screening even without leaves and let light in during darker months.

    Finally, pleached trees are another popular screening choice: normally planted in a line on a bamboo framework, and having the effect of a hedge on stilts, these are perfect for above-fence screening in restricted spaces. Tilia species, Carpinus and Pyrus Chanticleer are popular and functional options for pleached trees; you can browse our full range of pleached trees here.

     

    Advice

    Of course, all of this depends on your garden or site and the suitability of trees or hedges for the location – we aim to give the right advice to find a solution for your garden. If you want to talk to any of our friendly team about planning your options give us a call on 01435 862992.

    Or, you can leave us a message on our contact page, and we’ll endeavour to promptly get back to you.

    Thuja Occidentalis Brabant Thuja Occidentalis Brabant
    Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer

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