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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


Plough Field Allotments at Amerton

Gardening Tips
By Mrs FM

Unusual & Old
Fashioned Fruit

Herbs & Other
Edible Plants.

Environmental Issues And Going Green.

Vines And Other Climbing Plants.

Fish Ponds

Books By
Alan J Hartley





This year, January and the start of February were quite a bit colder than we have been used to in recent years and one or two of the nights in particular proved a bit too cold for some things like my Australian Callistemon, or Bottle Brush as it is commonly called, which had its tips badly burnt by the frosts.
The tips have been damaged in previous years and it re-shot so I am hoping it will shoot again, further down the stems, this time as well. Many members of the Myrtle Family, to which it belongs, are slightly tender, however, unlike other tender things such as Bay Trees, it won’t shoot from its roots if it is badly cut down. In fact many plants that have suffered in the extreme cold will shoot again like this and often from seemingly dead stems. To help prevent winter problems though, Bottle Brushes, like Bays, Olives and a lot of other plants will benefit from a well drained spot. Olives in particular suffer from wet Winters and mine on my Allotment has dropped a lot of its leaves the same as it did last Winter, but like then, I am hopeful that it will recover. My Feijoa, or Pineapple Guava on the Allotment has had its leaves badly burnt by the frosts, but the one in my Garden, has only been lightly touched. It’s the difference between being in a town garden and being in the open, on a hillside, just half a mile away. Like the Callistemon, they have been caught in the past, but they recovered then, so
they should be OK. Some varieties of Hebes can be a bit delicate as well including the lovely multicoloured one in my back garden that has been so badly damaged by the frost it may not even survive. On the other hand my lovely Variegated Myrtle that is in my Front Garden, doesn’t seem to have suffered at all this time.
I suppose I could have wrapped my more tender plants in horticultural fleece which would have given them a lot more protection, but I forgot this year. Some Exotics, like the Callistemon, are perhaps better suited to a Conservatory though anyway. The Callistemon makes a small evergreen tree or bush that usually has very pretty, soft, bottle brush like, bright red flowers, or sometimes pale yellow or cream ones. They are occasionally offered for sale at Garden Centres in the Summer along with other semi exotics like the Mimosa. This is a fast growing yellow flowered, small leaved tree that is even more tender than the Callistemon. Mimosas can be put out for the warmer, summer, months like some Bananas and Palms, but do really need the warmth of a Greenhouse or Conservatory, although they grow quickly and often get too big, and straggly, to be inside.

These days many people like to buy plants in the Summer months when things are in full growth and if they are pot grown this is OK, but even so things are better planted when they are dormant and the weather is cool and damp rather than hot and dry. As we go into March and things start to warm up, it is still a good time to plant bare root trees and bushes, but it should be done before the buds on them really start to burst forth. Indeed over the next few weeks some retailers may start making offers on them before it is too late to plant. Most plants sold these days are potted and not many traditional retailers sell bare root plants with most being sold “On Line,” but some Garden Centres still sell a few “Bare Root,” hedging plants. Here again though most hedging plants are actually sold roughly potted with 5 or 6 in a pot at about £2 each plant. However, even though they are potted they still need to be treated as if they are “Bare Root,” because they will not have a proper “Root Ball,” on their roots and they will be in a very delicate state needing extra care.

I haven’t bought any bigger fruit trees this year, but I have bought 2 tiny Loquat Plants (Eriobotrya Japonica) by mail order/online. When I was hunting for them on the Net I found that not many places even offered them for sale and most of the plants available to buy were very expensive, so eventually I settled on buying 2 x 6 inch high, rooted cuttings. I intend to grow them on for a few years in pots until they get a bit bigger, but they are fairly slow growing so it will be some time before they are ready to go out. The Loquat is a smallish tree, or large bush, anyway, so they should be happy enough in pots. Coming originally from China it is commonly called the Chinese Peach as its fruit is reminiscent of a small peach, but another name given to it is the Japanese Medlar because its large, evergreen leaves are very like those of our Medlar tree. The Loquat is quite popular in southern Europe grown both for its fruit and as an ornamental because of its exotically scented, attractive, over wintering, white flowers. My mother used to have a mature Loquat in her garden that flowered well and was quite hardy, although occasionally a few leaves might get damaged by hard frosts. However, we never had any fruit on it which always disappointed me.

When recently browsing round my local Garden Centre looking for inspiration, I saw a couple of large tubs containing another semi exotic and those were Eucalyptus Balls. There were 3 trees in each tub that had been cut down hard and then clipped into a single ball shape as they had re-grown. They did look very nice with their evergreen leaves, but the trees looked like the common Gunnii variety that is very quick growing so how on earth you could manage to keep their growth restricted I don’t know. I know that large specimen plants in tubs on patios and yards is, “The thing,” at the moment and growers are always trying new ideas, but I think that this is a step too far with wholly unsuitable plants.

On my trip to the Garden Centre I also saw a stack of Mushroom Kits which I had not seen on sale for some time. My own kit, which I received as a late Christmas present, is doing quite nicely at the moment and is sitting in a tray, on a table, by the window of my spare bedroom. After following the instructions to chill it for a couple of days after the mycelium formed, it has started to fruit and is throwing up beautiful, white Mushrooms. It looks as though I am going to get a nice little crop from it. I think next year I will try the outdoor kits on my Allotment. At various times of the year and especially after wet spells, I often get a few Mushrooms growing both on the Logs in my garden at home and even in the Wood Chip Paths on my Allotment, but I have no idea as to what is edible and what is not, so I have not taken to picking them.


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