Blossom Watch 2022 – Plum ‘ Warwickshire Drooper’ (26 March 2022)

We have an old plum tree in the orchard with the charming name of ‘Warwickshire Drooper’. Being Warwickshire residents ourselves it is great to have a locally named variety.

The tree is certainly showing its age but this year seems to be flowering profusely and evenly across all branches. We have been thinking that it’s days are numbered but perhaps it is trying to prove us wrong. It has a lovely flavour and with a touch of cinnamon makes a scrumptious jam.

Slightly later into flower this year is a small Victoria plum (29 March 2022). We have planted this now so it has time to establish in the orchard before the Warwickshire Drooper finally has to be removed.

When I posted about the Apricot I thought we may have been about a week later than my previous records made in 2019. My 2019 record for Warwickshire Drooper was 27 March so we may well have caught up due to a spell of warm weather.

Driving through the Vale of Evesham last weekend the plum orchards were in full bloom and looking a picture. The blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is also looking particulary good in the hedgerows this year. We have had a few weeks of fine weather without rain which has kept the blackthorn white and undamaged.


Blossom Watch 2022 Summary (First Blossom)

8 March – Apricot ‘Flavorcot’

26 March – Plum ‘Warwickshire Drooper’

29 March – Plum ‘Victoria’

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Six on Saturday: April blossom

Well what a few weeks of stunning spring weather we have had here in the United Kingdom. The blossom and flowering shrubs are looking spectacular, untouched by frosts or rain.  Fingers crossed, we should have a good crop of pears and cherries this year as it has been warm and sunny and the bees have been flying.

I have really been spoilt for choice this week with so much coming into bloom but I have decided to concentrate on the blossom and flowering shrubs.


Viburnum carlesii

P1040007 Viburnum carlesii

This shrub is certainly the star when it comes to fragrance at the moment.  Its large round heads of flowers have a wonderful scent that just hangs in the air.  This mature shrub is around 7-8 feet in height now and is situated nicely by the path where we walk regularly from the house to the garden.  A perfect position.


Malus

P1040029 Malus

I am not sure of the variety of this red leaved crab apple but it is performing extremely well this year.  We planted this small flowering tree in memory of our much loved German Shepherd ‘Fern’ and it brings her back into mind when it flowers each year.  It has sumptuous rich red flowers that contrast well with the white blossom of the wild cherry tree behind.

P1040030 Malus


Cytisus (Broom)

P1040038 Broom

This white broom is one of a number out in flower at the moment.  It is probably the Cytisus x praecox Albus but the label is now long gone.  For us this white flowered variety has a much more pleasant scent than the yellow varieties which can be a bit of an acquired taste.

Broom can tolerate quite poor soil and as a member of the pea family will also fix its own nitrogen.  Its green stems allow it to continue to photosynthesize during the winter months if the weather is mild.

P1040039 Cytisus albus


Pear

P1040043 Pear

We have three pear trees around the garden, a Doyenné du Comice, a Conference pear and an interesting cooking pear called Winter Nellis (excellent for Delia’s Spiced Pickled Pears at Christmas).  Along with the Cherry blossom the pears really bring the orchard to life.  The earliest orchard tree to bloom is the apricot followed by the plums, cherries and pears.  Very soon the orchard will shift from white to pink as the quince and apple blossom emerge.


Spirea arguta

P1040019 Spirea arguta

A couple of weeks ago I was praising the rich bronze foliage of a very different Spirea, Spirea japonica.  This week it is the turn of Spirea arguta.  This is a very reliable and easy maintence shrub that grows to about 5 feet in our garden.  At this time of year it is covered with small white flowers that make it look as if it has a dusting of snow.  In a week or two there will be a nice succession as S.arguta is replaced by S. nipponica.


Cherry

P1040041 Cherry

Last but not least I must highlight the blossom of the sweet eating cherries in the orchard.  I love these trees although to be fair the birds do seem to get far more of the large ripe cherries than I do.  Perhaps this year will be my year!

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

January treat – Niwaki Japanese Tripod Ladder

I know we are not yet far into 2019 but this has to be my purchase of the year so far.  It is excellent and has made the pruning of the large established orchard so much easier this year.

The Niwaki Japanese Tripod Ladder (available from www.niwaki.com) is a light weight, free standing, aluminium ladder.  They come in a range of sizes but the one that I plumped for is the 8 foot ladder which I have found perfect for the winter pruning of the orchard this year.

In previous years I have had to climb up inside the big apple trees to get to the very top and it has always been a difficult and rather precarious activity reaching large, high branches on the edge of the canopy of the larger trees.

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I treated myself to this ladder after Christmas and it has been a revelation.  I have found it to be a very stable ladder and the tripod leg allows you to work very comfortably in positions around the canopy where there is nothing to lean a normal ladder onto.

The tripod leg itself is easily adjustable and so even if you are working on a slight slope you can maintain the 75 degree angle required for safe working.

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The safe working height of the ladder is three rungs from the top and this gives you a lot of support on the front of your body when you are working two-handed with loppers.  On my 8 foot ladder your feet are three rungs from the top at around 5 feet.  With your own body height (in my case 5ft 6inches) you are working very comfortably with secateurs or pruning saw at 9-10 feet and able to reach up to 12 feet with extended loppers.

If you are working on ladders for long periods of time, many traditional aluminium ladders only have a single narrow rung and this can be very tiring on the feet after a few hours.  The Niwaki ladder has a double bar which gives much more support.

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I would highly recommend these ladders.  They are stable, light to move around and allow you to work safely and in comfort for many hours.  I am very pleased with my purchase.  The website is very informative about the height options available and safe working practices and well worth a look.