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Friday, March 28, 2014

London Fog

After living a few years I have somehow gotten used to the London fog. It is not that frequent but it does happen. This past year we had fog more than previously. So much so that this year I had my flight cancelled twice because of fog.

Fog can be quite disruptive to air traffic but at the same time is an opportunity for some great pictures.

Tower bridge covered in fog on a sunny morning - I 
Tower bridge covered in fog on a sunny morning - II

Canary wharf surrounded by fog

Very foggy in our garden - my flight was cancelled on that day

Spring in Action - Week 1

Just a quick post to share some of the events this week.
The cherry trees are starting to blossom. But then weather suddenly turned cold so they kind of slowed down.




The Quince tree is still stubbornly waiting for the right time. It looks to me that it is about to blossom, however I am no expert in quince trees. Please let me know your opinion.

The Victoria plum also looks like it has waken up from hibernation and I can see what look like flower buds.


The alpine strawberries look like they are doing good and seem to be multiplying surprising well in the small pot where I planted them. I am really positive about getting some strawberries :-)


The dwarf apricot tree seems to be doing well as well.




The mulberry tree is still in dormancy. I think I read somewhere that they normally wake up pretty late. So I am not worried yet.

The raspberries - most of them have showed no signs of life. But some of them definitely have adapter to to our garden. I hope the rest will wake up once Spring is in full swing.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cherry Blossom - Sylvia Mini Cherry tree

Spring officially started on March the 20th. On that day our Sylvia mini cherry tree started flowering. In the past two weeks we have had a good amount of sunshine, almost too good to be true. After such a tough winter all this sunshine really helps to be cheerful.

I also wanted to remember the fact that we are going through Lent which started on Ash Wednesday(5th of March). This is an important time for every Christian and myself as a Catholic. For 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert in preparation for his ministry. By the time lent has finished, Spring will be at its best. So  a lot to look forward.

Just today we planted a Czar plum, in our shadiest spot. Also we planted a kiwi tree which we are training against a trellis fence. This was the last tree that we planted. Our garden is now full of fruit trees but only God can allow it to thrive. In God we hope for plenty of fruits to enjoy in the summer and years to come.

Below you can see pictures of our mini cherry tree, Czar plum and Kiwi.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hawthorn Tree

The Hawthorn tree in our garden looks very scruffy in winter. But in May when it blooms, its one of the prettiest in our garden. This tree is also know as May tree for that reason.

The tree is often used as hedges around England because of its thorns. They are very thorny. And the thorns are not aways easy to spot. I also find it very attractive the way the tree leans. Completely the opposite to the Cordyline which looks unnaturally straight.

I always loved this tree since I moved in, but only recently I found out about its history.
The Hawthorn is also called the bread and cheese tree. Why the name? It turns out that in the old days the leaves were eaten and referred as bread and cheese.
It doesn't stop here - if you search for Hawthorn on youtube or google you will find that the Hawthorn is also famous in medicine. The berries, leaves and flowers are good for the heart and circulation.

This spring I already have a plan. I will eat the young leaves and make a tea out of the blossoms. Obviously I will definitely write about the experience.

The picture below shows how the Hawthorn looks now in winter.


If you want to learn more about the Hawthorn tree, check out this website: http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/hawthorn.html

There are also some videos on yotube which talk about the Hawthorn tree. One even teaches how to make tea out of the flowers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN8z-a9FRSE

Do check it out.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cordyline Australis

One of my favorite trees in the garden is Cordyline Australis. This tree is tall, at least 5 meters tall, with a very straight trunk. It never loses its leaves and provides a sanctuary for birds that quite often nest there.

It looks like a palm tree but it isn't one. It is able to withstand frosts and cold weather. My garden is north facing which makes it even more impressive, as it looks like it is thriving next to the Eucalyptus.

Initially I thought this was an Australian tree(because of the name), but thankfully I checked wikipedia first before writing this article. This tree is native from New Zealand where it is known as the Cabbage tree.





Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring is definitely here

Today was a special day for two reasons. Besides trying to be a gardener, I am a software developer. I have last year started programming in a new language called Scala. So for that reason I decided to join a Meetup group on Scala. The meetup was today and at the Heron tower. The event was appropriately called hack the tower.  It was organised by Salesforce at their amazing offices in Liverpool street. I loved the event and I am very thankful to the organiser and Salesforce.
The views from the Heron tower are amazing and of course I couldn't miss a chance to take some pictures. See below.




Today it was also special for another reason. It was a sunny day in London. For me it feels like the official start of spring.

As soon as I got home from the meetup group I jumped to the garden with my son to plant some Autumn bliss red raspberries bought from RHS.

Autumn bliss raspberries like the name suggest fruit in Autumn on the first year of planting(primocanes). If unpruned over winter the same canes will provide a second crop. But after the second crop you need to cut the canes to the ground, and from there the cycle starts again. Below is a picture of my son digging.

It is the first time I grow raspberries - so I don't know how well they will grow in our north facing garden. I will keep everyone updated.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Cherry tree and the evil Squirrels

Shortly after moving in to the house I bought a Stella Cherry tree on colt rootstock. This tree thrived in my garden and last Spring, in late April I was able to enjoy the beautiful white blossoms. I was really looking forward to the sweet red cherries that would surely come in the summer.

The Stella Cherry, Prunus Avium,  is self pollinating and produces black sweet cherries in summer. My garden is north facing and even so my Stella does not seem to mind it.

Below is a picture of the Cherry in full blossom. I was so proud and happy that I told pretty much everyone I knew, about my cherry tree and the cherries that awaited.

Sure enough in late May there was no doubt that I could see cherries forming. They were little to start with. Week by week they were getting bigger. And surely I would definitely enjoy the produce once the cherries were ripe.

But one day I noticed that something wasn't quite right. Every day I would see less unripe cherries. Surely no bird would eat those? But day after day, there would be less. Until one day I found a branch on the ground. Some evidence that something was there. It couldn't be a bird. Could it be a fox? A squirrel?

Finally one sunny morning in May I found my answer to the riddle. It was a squirrel. Not one, but three squirrels in my garden grabbing whatever they could. They must have been hungry.

Finally after more damage to the small tree, I decided that I didn't care so much about the produce but was more concerned about the tree. The Squirrels were not just eating cherries. They were biting the branches. So I removed all the cherries and composted them. That was the end of the cherries.

This year the cherry tree is again nearing blossom. And I am already planning a way to protect the cherries from the squirrels. Perhaps plenty of peanuts will do?

Beautiful sunset behind Canary Wharf

One thing that I love about where I live - Charlton, is the beautiful views I get of the London Skyline.
From my own balcony I can see the O2, Canary Wharf, Shard, London Eye, Gherkin, St Pauls, the Cheesegrater, Heron Tower, BT Tower, ....
 The best thing about is the incredible sunsets and pink skies we get in the summer. See below some of the pictures.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quince Tree - Vranja

I never meant to buy a Quince tree. Truth is that I was looking to buy a Pear tree but somehow I bought a Quince - Vranja. I decided not to send it back and planted it anyway.

I have done some research and here are the facts that I learned about the Quince tree:
  • The scientific name is "Cydonia oblonga" and belongs to the Rosaceae family
  • The fruit looks like a pear but can't be eaten raw as its very hard
  • The fruit has a wonderful perfume
  • In Portugal the same tree is called "Marmeleiro"  and the fruit is called "Marmelo". When I was younger I remember eating the jam "Marmelada". It was delicious.
  • In Spring, the Quince tree has some of the most wonderful flowers - I am looking forward to that
Now Spring is approaching and the Quince was the first tree to wake up.

 I hope to see the flowers soon!

My first post - Hope for Spring

This is my first post. I moved to the Borough of Greenwich not long ago and for the first time in my life I have a garden. I inherited a beautiful garden but with lots of trees. I initially wanted to cut most of them but I somehow got attached to the trees.
I have a Lilac tree which gives wonderful purple flowers in Spring.


Above you can see the Lilac tree, Ash and Quince - all asleep

I also have a May tree which gives wonderful purple/pink flowers in Spring. Not only that, recently I found that its an Hawthorn. The leaves and flowers can be used to make tea - the berries can be also made into Jam. Not only that the berries, leaves and flowers have medicinal properties. From what I read on Youtube - they are good for the heart.

I also have an Eucalyptus which has grown to an enormous size. But how nice it looks.

At the back of the garden there is a big Ash tree, which you can see behind the Eucalyptus.


Right next to the house we used to have a Port Orford tree. I talk in the past because unfortunately that tree had to go. The tree was beautiful and tall but it was taking away too much light from our house and the next door neighbor.

Another tree in our garden that definitely will stay is Cordyline australis. What a beautiful tree - the birds really love it.

During winter I planted more trees of dwarf to medium size: The black mulberry, Victoria Plum, Cherry Stella and Morello, apple tree, Apricot tree and so on. I also planted raspberries and strawberries.

Spring is now approaching and I am full of hope that all of these new residents wake up. I will try to blog regularly and I will post updates for each of the new and old residents as soon as they wake up. I will add pictures to this post soon too.