The gardens at Pear Tree Cottage sit in a cider apple orchard in the green and rolling countryside of Worcestershire, England. It enjoys a sunny south westerly aspect with sweeping views across to Martley Hillside, Woodbury & Abberley clock tower. The Teme Valley lies just over the hill and, not far away, is the Herefordshire border. Although our climate is temperate, our seasons are often uncertain and always a challenge to a gardener!


24 October 2016

The Story of Mrs. Slingsby's Walnut Tree & Chris's Missing Nuts!

Chris's nuts (Ahem!)
A perfect walnut!

More than holding its own above the hedge line

Mrs. Slingsby's Walnut now 9 years old!
Nine years ago, Chris brought a self set walnut tree from the late Mrs' Slingby's garden and planted it in the hedge line behind the tool shed. For a number of years it was jealously guarded and prevented from being overgrown by hedging plants in its baby years. For the very first time last year, it bore fruit. We were away when the nuts were ripe. Chris picked all 5 and even sent us photographs whilst we were in Moab having breakfast! When we returned Chris ceremoniously presented us with our very first 5 walnuts from our 8 year old tree! The following day and without even thinking Al cracked them all and he and I shared them between us without a thought for poor Chris! For a whole year we weren't allowed to forget for a single moment this gross and thoughtless oversight!

This year, he wasn't going to miss out. For months Chris kept a VERY strict eye on the now 6 walnuts growing - hoping that they weren't going to be found by grey squirrels or us! Every Saturday Chris checked and, more importantly counted the six walnuts.
This Saturday, he checked their status and, quelle horreur! Three were missing! We searched around on the ground beneath and to my relief found the remaining 3 - phew! After all work was finished, they were carefully shared out - 2 each. The most perfect and delicious walnuts in the world!! I reckon for such a young tree to bear fruit after 8 years is pretty good going. Hopefully, we're now forgiven for last year's oversight and our special tree will go on to bear more bountiful yields!

Hebe Central!

5 planted on the left of the path and...
another 5 on the right...

Time to sort out the scrubby old Lavenders which hadn't enjoyed our winters of the rather too damp conditions and one or two Hebes overgrown with ivy.  In other words - have a good old sort out!  An old conifer root and a sprawling woody Cistus was removed.  Then it was off to Laylocks (with my prize money burning holes in my pocket!) to buy 10 new Hebes. I like the way they form dense evergreen clumps and mounds in front of the house and can hardly wait for these to fill their allotted spaces!

The rose on the right of the steps was looking very tired and drab until Chris put his hedge cutter over it and gave it a serious haircut since, when it's never looked back and is covered in bloom again!

making the grand total of 10!

19 October 2016

Trees on Fire!

Fire below the little landing window!
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At the risk of droning on about colour, here I am doing another post on the Acer colour. It's just that it's positively on fire this autumn and each time I pass the little window on the stairs, a red glow floods in. It's like a ball of red fire shining in! For most of the year, this specimen is a dark plum colour and then, for a few weeks each year, it's like a beacon. Acers really are 3 for the price of 1! Spring colour, autumn fire and winter skeletal forms. What more could you ask from a single tree?

View from the little window on the stairs

If you follow the link Acer Alley, by contrast; you'll also see a couple of shots depicting flocks of Goodman geese grazing in fields bathed in autumn sunshine.

16 October 2016

Creeping Crimson

Creeping Crimson!
Overflowing with colour!

Well I did say that there's quite a bit of colour in the garden right now and this Acer is positively glowing! It's like a beacon by the old chimney. Oh, it's an Acer Palmatum Dissectum Atropurpureum.

Perfect Perfume Planning

South facing raised border
Erysimum cheiri
Erysimum cheiri Blood Red
Erysimum cheiri Cloth of Gold

Although we've been enjoying lovely sunny, still and colourful autumn days, we still have to look ahead to spring. It was off down to Keith Bolton's at Heath Nursery, Lower Broadheath for some wallflowers. I came home with 2 colours: 'Cloth of Gold' and 'Blood Red' - all grown in Evesham and traditionally sold in bundles of 10, wrapped in newspaper and tied with string! I came home with 2 scores.  

Once again these have been planted in a raised border so that when in bloom, they'll be exactly at nose height! This is vital nose-worthy strategy ensuring maximum olfactory benefit and, as if that wasn't enough, there's a strategically placed seat opposite! There were enough left to plant up a couple of pots by the back door. It's amazing to think they're actually a genus of the cabbage or mustard family and smell nothing like them!! All these hardy little beauties will take all that winter can throw at them before bursting forth with colour and perfume in spring. If only everything was as easy!

13 October 2016

Teetering around & tidying topiary!

Here we have yet another video of Chris blowing away a year's worth of cobwebs and the more recently accumulated clippings out of the Yew topiary which, as usual makes it appear that I do nothing!  In fact, I clipped the the 'reachable' part of the Helter Skelter and the 2 smaller Yews while Chris teetered around on the top of the steps doing the difficult part at the top of the Helter Skelter.  We now have 8 containers of apple sauce in the freezer as a result of last weeks apple picking!

9 October 2016

Shades of early autumn.

Cyclmen Coum

Parthenocissus Tricuspidata
A Japanese Acer of unknown providence!

It's looking more and more autumnal as the days shorten and the temperatures cool off. The cyclamen are flowering along the Fernery path and the Acers and Virginia creeper are glowing with colour. We've been lucky enough to enjoy a few perfect sunny autumn days when the air is still and the low light shows off brief autumn colours to their very best. The pots have now all been planted up with bulbs so, hopefully, we have plenty of spring colour to look forward to. As usual, I planted in layers in an effort to prolong displays. Chris isn't a fan of bulbs as he finds the dying leaves far outlast the displays of flowers. I have to say he's right and they look so untidy and unsightly for months after flowering! Planting in containers means that they can easily be moved out of sight after flowering!

A few pots of sleeping bulbs outside the studio!

More Saturday Work

Trimmed topiary
Last of the apple crop
After last week; thank goodness for a dry Saturday! We trimmed the Yew topiary - ie the Helter Skelter and the 2 Pom Poms.  It does take ages but it's only once a year and afterwards Chris blows all the rubbish out of them and we have a HUGE sweep up. We also did some thinning out at the back of the Woodland border, planted out some home grown Aqualegias, a Honeysuckle, some Lilies-of-the-valley and even an Acacia Dealbata - not to mention pruning the big conifer down by the compost heap. We even found time to pick the last of the Bramley apples. Today has been spent, mowing everywhere, hoeing the veg patch and generally tidying up plants which will spend the winter in the greenhouse. So for five minutes, the garden's looking pretty tidy!

30 September 2016

Charming Chillies!

This week I 'ave bin mostly ...

...pickin', drying, 'n stringin' chillies!  The moral is: never to rub an itchy nose when handling Apache chillies!!!  Everyone knows you shouldn't but it's so very easy to forget - ahem!

I've been doing this as they ripen, thus you can see both dried and drying fruits. As well as being endlessly useful in the kitchen, they do look quite decorative. Somehow, I don't think we can eat all these and there's more to pick!

Hops - V - Noisy Kitchen Extractor Fans!

Fuggles hops & home dried flowers
Before the clean up!

Last year's home grown hops were looking very sparse, tired and faded. A little late but, at last, I got around to replacing them.  I adore the smell of new hops and this variety is Fuggles (isn't that a great name?!)  This year I went to The Haven, Dilwyn in Herefordshire where a lovely lady helped me choose a bine, carefully wrap in a dust sheet and even carry it out to the car. If you're in need of hops, The Haven is well worth a visit.

Their use in the kitchen is more than just decorative. They absorb cooking odours really well. I know that with an Aga, there are no cooking smells but, a garland of hops has to be nicer than a loudly whirring kitchen extractor fan and, dare I say, 'greener' ?  Well, their colour does fade over the year.

Of course, there were hops E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E!  In my hair, stuck to my clothing all over the floor, the kitchen surfaces, trails of them from the back door and utility room but I just didn't care. I added some home dried Roses, Hydrangeas and Achilleas to fill out one end of the beam and, job done. It was huge fun and an equally HUGE mess. A good clear up followed and, the kitchen is now filled with the scent of hops! In a few days time when the scent fades, I'll spray them with hair lacquer to reduce petal fall but, until then, we're just enjoying them.