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!


18 March 2019

The Great Azorean Experiment - Fumigation Phase II

5 minutes after lighting the fire
10am the following morning & all clear.

Having found an infestation of greenfly in the greenhouse; I put phase II of my fumigation smoke experiment into action.  Again I burnt some damp leaves in a handy little brazier inside the greenhouse with both doors and all windows closed.  This time, instead of an hour, I left a totally smoke filled greenhouse overnight. 

When I say totally smoke filled, I mean it! Visibility was down to 9" so I definitely couldn't see what was happening through the dense and choking smoke but, by morning, all was clear and I swept up the ashes.  All plants are completely unharmed by this long exposure to such dense smoke.  From now on, I shall be keeping a very close eye on pests.

Having scoured the internet, I have been unable to find any information on doing this anywhere at all. As I explained in my earlier post, this is a method of fumigation used by the Head Gardener in charge of pineapple cultivation in the Azores. There, they burnt the dead pineapple leaves inside the houses to kill pests.  Unfortunately, the language barrier meant I couldn't ask many questions and I wonder how frequently this is done. If anyone has any information on this practice, I'd be absolutely delighted to hear.  If successful, it has to be better than fumigating with chemicals so noxious that all plant material needs to be removed!

9 March 2019

Getting Blown Away!

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb!!!
Despite GALE force conditions, we battled on with a long list of jobs. First up was planting 3 crowns of rhubarb down in Nutberry Noak. We planted a Timperley Early, A Champagne and a Glaskins Perpetual. I mustn't be tempted to try any until next year when it's better established. We only have a single rhubarb forcer - do I need 2 more???

We now have gooseberries, black currants, red currants, raspberries an apple and a cob nut down there.  All pruned and mulched and looking very smart.

A rather chic looking Lyrenal
Other jobs included pollarding 3 Snake Bark maples (to improve kitchen sink views) and digging out, tidying and mulching the top lawn border and digging out masses of ivy from beneath the Spireas.  

The day ended with Chris giving Lyrenal a new coiffure!!

2 March 2019

The Great Gooseberry Rescue!

Yet more recycling!
As much as I tried, I just couldn't keep up with the chickens scratching their wood chip through their mesh fence and burying our gooseberry bush. The trouble is: at this point in the garden, the ground drops away and gravity always wins! A solution was found using some leftover pieces of corrugated iron which Chris Genever remembered was on the log store roof. 
Amazingly, we had exactly the right number of offcuts which were all exactly the right size. How often does that happen? Chris dug it in and then drilled holes enabling him to wire the tops to the mesh. He then set about rescuing the gooseberry bush only to find that a couple of branches had rooted so we now have 2 more smaller bushes - BONUS! The rest of Nutberry Noak was dug over and weeded with the cob nut having its crown raised a little.  Not only neat and tidy but this little garden patch is now chicken proof! Oh, and by the way, the girls can see over the top - just!

Pear Repair

Also on the list was to repair and repaint the pear which lives on the 'Pear Arch'. The original leaf was broken ages ago and it needed some TLC.  We cut a new pear leaf from some old lead and, believing it was a metal pear, we set about attaching the lead leaf. Little did we know the pear is actually ceramic and the stalk broke off leaving a hole in the top. Chris came up with the bright idea of filling it with a quick setting concrete, attaching the leaf to a nail and embedding the nail in the concrete. Hey presto a pear with a new leaf that now weighs a ton! A quick clean up and respray and it was put back in position. Well; Worcester is known for its famous Black Pear!

Fine Thyme Sign!

Chris realigning the sign!
The old slate sign restored
This Saturday was mainly maintenance jobs.  As the small wooden uprights kept rotting, we repaired the old Thyme Square sign.  Something more durable was called for so James at Lanes made some new metal posts for it. We'll have to wait for them to acquire a more pleasing patina of rust. We changed the wooden backrest for some Victorian path edgers. Hard to believe that 11 years have elapsed since we ripped out the old hedge, replanted and built this area of the garden!

22 February 2019

The Great Azorean Experiment.

When in the Azores just before Christmas, the Head Gardener in charge of pineapple cultivation explained how; once a year, they light small fires in the greenhouses. Dead pineapple leaves are burned to create lots of smoke which kills all pests. I figure if it works commercially, it might work on the countless zillions of whitefly in our greenhouse which decimate crops.  

Having had a good tidy and clean up, I lit a small fire and placed a pile of damp leaves and let it smoke away for half an hour before removing it. I figure it's kinder than buying chemical fumigators some of which kill plants too! However, it's a first and it'll be interesting to see if it works. Whitefly make it impossible for us to grow cucumbers and it's a constant battle with tomatoes so...fingers crossed!

17 February 2019

Going Solo

The main lawn 
Hellebores in the Woodland Border

With Chris still in Tobago, it was solo gardening on an unusually mild Saturday.  All roses were pruned and produced 5 barrowfuls of clippings, the top lawn trellis border was tidied and edged and all lawns were topped - by that I mean cut very high. It's more hoovered that cut. The girls enjoyed a box of grass clippings and Esmeralda is laying again so it's lovely to see her blue eggs in the nest box.  The 'Under Gardener' had a bonfire and disposed of all the roses clippings.

We've had some wonderful sunny days with frosty nights and misty mornings. More and more Hellebores and Snow drops are popping up with Pulmonarias showing more colour. Funny thing is; the Snowdrops in the Aspen Grove are WAY behind and only just peeping through. Meanwhile, I'm hoping that the Camelia buds which are all showing colour will wait until the frosts are over before daring to open!!