Into November and it’s not my favourite month with the shorter damp dull days and the thought of working through the winter frost and snow. However I shouldn’t grumble (but I will) as it has been quite mild so far this autumn.
I am very pleased to have finally finished all the strimming for the season, with the mild October the grass grew faster than I would have liked so some areas I went over again to ensure it is low enough not to hide the snowdrops.
My brother from Oz was here and with a mind to helping his general health and fitness I gave him a list of jobs, I am sure he felt in the pink by the time he left and I was extremely happy as it has reduced my winter workload a little. He did leave me a nice present of a Quercus velutina - Black Oak or Yellow Oak, it originates from eastern North America. It has yellow bark and the inner bark can be used for yellow dye. The glossy leaves grow to 12inches (30cm) and turn a dark red in autumn. Now where are we going to plant a 100ft (30m) tree?
We are in the process of doing yet more planting out of mostly herbaceous perennials in the grass and shrubbery areas.
We have a few other jobs we must get done then we will start the winter prune but this damp weather is slowing the work quite a lot.
I have just picked sloes to make sloe jelly which also uses apples, we have never tried it before but with an abundance of sloes we felt we had to use them for something. On the radio recently they were discussing jam and how much sugar to use, regulations say a jam should contain at least 60% sugar otherwise it is a fruit spread. They are considering whether it can be a jam if it ‘only’ contains 50% sugar and whether it would be such a good and tasty product or more likely to be a grey gloop. I would say to them that traditionally jam has 50% sugar and any more makes it too sweet and reduces the fruit flavour. The reason some jams have a lack of flavour is due to the mass production process where all the fruit is processed to look like grey gunge, and the only one you can recognise is raspberry as it still has the seeds in. Flavouring and colouring, and goodness knows what else are then added resulting in the stuff sold by supermarkets.
Plant of the Month: Crataegus crus-gali - Cockspur Thorn
There are 200 species of Crataegus from cool regions of Europe, Asia and eastern North America. The Cockspur Thorn is native to North America but has been widely planted in Europe, it is a small tree of about 30ft (10m) with very long sharp thorns. The small white flowers are in clusters followed by bright red fruits which may stay on the tree throughout winter. It is deciduous with the leaves making a splendid display in autumn.
They are hardy and not fussy about soil type of drainage though do prefer sun. They may sucker but these can be removed to produce a tree form. Stratify seed for germination - put them in a fridge for a few weeks.
Ros. www.moorsmeadow.co.uk 01885 410318