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recent content by Maddy Harland

Maddy Harland |
Wednesday, 27th April 2011

We have three traditional pear trees in our forest garden but only one stands out, Merton's Pride. Flowering after the Asian Pear and the Cherry Plum as Springtime become firmly established, its blossom is incomparably delicate and is a riot of bees. One year I was so taken by the vigour and beauty of the tree's blossom that I made a flower remedy in the tradition of Dr Edward Bach, early one sunny morning. The bottle remains under my bed to this day. I give little samples to my friends from time to time but I have no idea what effect it has.

 
Maddy Harland |
Wednesday, 6th April 2011

I worry about planting extotic sounding fruit trees in the forest garden. Our chalky soil and variable English climate has put paid to early experiments with freestanding peach, nectarine, and almonds which were billed by nurseries to be hardy for the south of England. With nearly 80 fruit and nut trees we cannot nurse the delicate and temperamental and our trees have to produce or they go.

 
Maddy Harland |
Tuesday, 29th March 2011

One of my favourite trees in our garden is the Plum Myrobalan, Prunus cerasifera . It is robust enough to be used as a hedge plant but if you let it grow as a standard within a hedgerow, it will grow to 25 feet in 20 years. In March, its branches are alive with honeybees enjoying the nectar from the abundant pure white flowers. It is the first tree to blossom in the garden. I stand beneath it and savour the delicious scent and celebrate the hum of happy honey bees, too rare an experience even in my garden which has about 80 fruit and nut trees.

 
Maddy Harland |
Monday, 28th March 2011

There is little food in my garden at this time of year. The coldframes are full of salads – self-seeders and other leaves that have survived the winter snow in their protected environment. There's a few carrots left, spring onions and some cavollo nero and beetroot. We are still eating jams and preserves from last year and there is fruit frozen in the deep freeze, but there is nothing quite like the first rhubarb crop. We celebrate it at Sunday supper when all the family meet and sit down and share food together.

 
Maddy Harland |
Thursday, 24th February 2011

Take a barrel with a tap that's not connected to a downpipe. Add rainwater. Then add comfrey leaves (the deep tap root 'mines' the minerals from the soil), stinging nettles and any other weeds (before they have gone to seed) and a shovelful of manure. Leave to 'brew' for a few weeks. Be prepared for the pungent smell and avoid contact with your hands as you will be haunted by it for hours! Dilute 1:10 in water in a watering can and use as a fertiliser on maturing plants but not seedlings and watch them grow. Never buy a proprietory brand like chicken pellets again.

 

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