Seasonal tips for November – buying your trees

It’s November and the last of the Indian summer has gone, leaves are falling and with only 6 weeks to the shortest day, its feeling as if winter is here.

For the keen, the tree buying season is well under way and although not available if field grown until the leaves have fallen, it’s worth ordering now, if you’ve not done so already, to avoid disappointment. Availability lists from nurseries start being produced from August for the Autumn, and it is usually the most interesting plants that are in small quantities and quickly sell out.

As a rule, field grown plants are less expensive than pot grown ones, but it is the pot grown option that you will find available in the garden centres in the spring and early summer when many folk get inspired to sort out their gardens. So, at the beginning of the season, there are usually more purchases made on impulse.

The advantage of pot grown plants is that they are able to be planted all year round providing you are prepared to water accordingly.

The bare root field grown plant season usually ends in mid-March as the sap begins to rise. It is best to plant your bare root trees prior to Christmas as many species, despite looking dormant, will produce fine white roots ready for the spring surge. Late plantings of bare root stock, where this root production is lacking, may need watering during their early stages.

Here comes Autumn

Its October 11th 2017, the late summer weather is fading and with the first of the leaves turning colour at the end of September and high wind today, the first of the serious leaf fall is commencing and autumn is creeping forward.

Plants of interest at the Forest Garden at this moment include; “Crab apple Rose hip” with its brilliant orange fruit which has been looking good for the last 5 weeks. Some of the fruit looks almost too good to be real. It serves as an excellent pollinator to other apple trees nearby and its fruit, as their sugar level continues to rise, is just about ready to eat and certainly could be included in a fruit salad. My instinct, from having previously tasted crab apple wine, tells me that these fruits would make a good wine too.

The last of the blackberry cultivars “Thorne free” are still managing to ripen some fruit, and as a recent visitor said of the 25mm diameter fruits, “These taste like red wine”.  These plants are primo canes meaning they will flower on the current year’s growth. Indeed last year’s growth was cut down in April and it has managed to grow 6 metres in length, flowered and have been fruiting since mid-September; simply amazing!

Finally, for now, the plant of the month is the “Chilean guava”. It’s the last of the summer/autumn soft fruits. This plant, now in its 4th year, has over 300 very tasty red berries of approximately 8mm in diameter on it. The taste is not dissimilar to that of a strawberry flavoured Opal fruit or Starburst. This was reputed to be Queen Victoria’s favourite fruit, allegedly grown in Cornwall and sent to London for her consumption. Some forms of this plant can make a good hedge up to a metre high.