‘Christmas’ trees

November has been and almost gone, rather wet and very mild. We’ve only had a couple of light frosts, not even enough to take the nasturtiums which are still blooming merrily in the veg patch. It’s strange not having our usual supply of winter veg out there โ€“ parsnips and leeks in particular (next year!) –ย  but the salad leaves, especially the rocket, just go on and on.

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I couldn’t resist buying this bloody sorrel, it’s so colourful; just need to find the right spot for it now.

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Now December beckons. Call me Scrooge but I really don’t like Christmas very much. Well, not the frenzied shopping and enforced jollity kind of Christmas that seems so prevalent. I much prefer a quiet midwinter celebration, a nod to the Winter Solstice with candles, greenery, a warm fire and good food. With this simplicity in mind, we haven’t bought Christmas gifts for each other for several years but have bought and planted trees together instead.

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This year is certainly no exception. We’ve been making plans to plant almost the entire paddock since we moved here in July and yesterday our bundle of bare-rooted trees arrived from a local nursery. Time to grab a spade and get busy. First to go in were six fruit trees: ‘Stella’ cherry, ‘Beth’ pear, ‘Merryweather’ damson, cooking apple ‘Howgate Wonder’ and dessert apples, ‘Blenheim Orange’ and ‘Egremont Russet.’ These are all half-standard and have made an instant impact: our new orchard has begun!

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Today, it was the turn of the woodland.

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No Black Friday for us, instead a truly Golden Sunday traipsing up and down the paddock in brilliant sunshine (is it really 30th November?) planting almost 200 young trees: penduculate oak, green beech, wild cherry, rowan, silver birch, spindle, field maple, Norway maple, crab apple, red dogwood and noble fir. Closer to the house we also plugged gaps in the hedge with flowering currant and rosa rugosa, both very colourful and excellent nectar sources. With Sam and Adrienne here for the weekend, many hands (and paws) made light work, with the occasional break for coffee and a mince pie or two.

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The trees are all 2-3ft hedging plants but we know from experience that they will grow like stink and be a decent size in no time.

The chickens have been happily re-housed in their new quarters and are laying well, the mild weather is suiting them down to the ground.

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I found these little beauties popping up out of the muck pile.

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There might not be too much to do in the garden now until spring but what a brilliant weekend it’s been in the late autumn sunshine . . . and what could be more optimistic than planting a new orchard and woodland for the future? ๐Ÿ™‚

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4 thoughts on “‘Christmas’ trees

  1. Great to have your orchard started and what good weather you’ve had to do it! It’s just so satisfying to plant trees. We’re going to wait until February when the worst of the storms should be over to expand our orchard and hedging. I’m already looking on my favourite nursery website what to get. Stella is on the list and another cooking apple is definitely needed. We had a pub lunch outside yesterday – more of that weather, please! We’ve basically changed our Christmas celebrations to Thanksgiving-style celebrations, just lots and lots of great food and no presents or very small (preferably edible) ones. Much more relaxing.

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    • Well, maybe it’s age (!!!) but we decided last year (after fighting it for years) that the whole Christmas madness was unnecessary, it’s so much more meaningful- as you say – to share great home-produced food with your nearest and dearest and to give something personal as and when. So . . . we bring in the green, light candles and the fire, open a bottle and basically relax and have fun: not a piece of tinsel or over-cooked sprout in sight! What’s lovely for us is that our veg-growing foodie offspring are totally onside, so presents only for the Littly- aka grandson Ben 17 months – this year and some special fruit trees in the pipeline for my December birthday. Brilliant! Good luck with your February planting, do you have a particular cooking apple in mind?

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  2. I was just thinking of a Bramley Seedling, but if you have any good other suggestions please let me know. I want something prolific! There is already a Bountiful in the garden, maybe three years old, but the bounty was only 9 apples this year. Glad that we decided to wait until February with this nightmare weather week – gusts of 60+mph today, fun, fun, fun. Great that your whole family is on board for the non-consumerist Christmas.

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    • Bramleys are such a great apple but we never had a huge success with them in mid-Wales, I think we were too high up and not really in apple growing country – also, they can be biennial bearers which doesn’t help on the prolific front! We’ve always rated Howgate Wonder so that’s what we’ve started with here, it’s a reliable cropper (actually, so heavy we had to prop up the branches several years on the trot), has a lovely pink blush and cooks like a Bramley. It also keeps very well. I quite fancy trying some of the old Shropshire varieties but it’s hard to know how well they’d go. The weather here is horrible, too – time to curl up with a seed catalogue and dream of spring! ๐Ÿ™‚

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