If the recent lockdown has taught us anything it’s that we don’t need nearly as much as we are used to having. Although going out for dinner and drinks at the weekend are still a welcomed treat, more and more of us connected with nature over the lockdown months and if you are anything like us, enjoyed the local woodland walks full of fruit and nut trees. Foraging for food is also a great way to save on money, before you do however we’ve pulled together a code of conduct for foraging within public woodlands:
Crab apples, blackthorn berries (sloe), rowan, hawthorn, elderberrys and hazel are all great species to forage. These native trees and shrubs grow well in both urban and countryside areas.
Rowan and crab apples are small deciduous trees that grow well in urban green spaces and are perfect for a small- medium sized back garden. Cooking with crab apple will get you some delicious apple crumble/ pie and rowan berries can be turned into jelly (that goes great meat like lamb and venison).
Blackthorn and hawthorn are often used as hedging plants and can be seen along the edges of fields and public walkways, a perfect excuse to grab a bucket and take the kids on a walk. Hawthorn berries can be made into a jelly too, making it a great accompaniment to cheese (and wine – if you are over 18!). Blackthorn & elder berries make wonderful liquors, both go very well with gin.
The hazel tree you will find in local woodlands but you may be lucky to get a handful as they are the squirrels favourite. If you are lucky enough to get some you can make a whole host of tasty treats, our favourite is a chocolate hazelnut spread.
In recent years there has been a lot of emphasis of the importance of bees. To celebrate World Bee Day we wanted to tell you why bee’s are so important to our ecosystem.
The main reason bee’s are so important to us is because they pollinate the vast majority of the food we harvest. Approximately 80% of all flowering plants are pollinated by animals, mostly insects (which includes bees). Pollination is crucial because many vegetables, fruits and the crops that feed livestock rely on it to be fertilised. Veggies like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower reply solely on honey bees and solitary bees for pollination so without them, we could have serious crop problems. While there are other methods of pollination, like the wind, birds, bats and other insects, wild bees are among the most important pollinators because they are capable of pollinating on a much bigger scale.
As pollinators, bees play a part in every aspect of the ecosystem. They support the growth of trees, flowers, and other plants, which serve as food and shelter for a number of creatures both big and small.
Our bee mix is a great addition to any garden, this mix will provide interest and activity all year round and help our fuzzy friends continue to strive.
Pick up our ‘save the bees’ pack here!
Having survived January, February is always welcomed with open arms. Dry January is over, people are no longer holding their resolutions and the balance of the universe seems to be truly restored. The days are getting brighter and although February tends to be a wet and often dreich month there are signs of life appearing everywhere you look. In February we, on average, gain an extra 2 and a half minutes of sunlight each day, meaning by the end of the month we’ll have gained a whole hour and 10 minutes! Which is great news for us but also wonderful news for our plants 😊
With more daylight hours the promise of Spring creeps in, you can see daffodils start to open and the Easter Eggs are firmly in the seasonal isles but with the mild winter weather is this a good time to plant? The answer, quite simply is, of course! Our cell grown plants can be planted all year round if the soil is properly cultivated so have a look at our favourite February shrubs & get planting!
Blooming from January to June, common gorse can grow in all kinds of habitats including coastal grasslands, towns & gardens. Common gorse is a large, evergreen shrub, covered in needle-like leaves and has a very distinctive coconut-perfume. Its deep yellow flowers are a great source of nectar for birds as it’s in flower for long periods of time, making it easily recognisable and are a great food source, even in the Winter months.
Another February favourite is Cherry laurel (pictured left), this evergreen scrub has handsome glossy dark green leaves that can grow up to 15cm in length. This shrub is great for heading as it tolerates cutting and regenerates well. It can last in extreme coldness and tolerate temperatures as low as -20C. The Cherry laurels flower is a beautiful white upright raceme that blooms from May – June & fruits cherries that turn to black. Careful though, the shrub leaves and fruit are toxic to humans if digested.
As today is officially the gloomiest day of the year we thought we would lighten your load with some interesting facts about one of our coniferous trees, The Blue Spruce.
Pincea pungens glauca is an evergreen tree native to the Rocky Mountain regions of North America. The tree has a mature height of around 75ft when grown in the wild & while it grows relatively slowly. It is long-lived and may reach ages of 600 – 800 year.
The tree was first discovered in Colorado on top of the Pikes Peak in 1862 and got its name due to the unique silver-blue colour, attributed to the white powder that forms on new, young needles.
Its needles are 4 sided with a very sharp point, which gives the species its name ‘pungens’ meaning sharp in Latin. The tree itself grows in a columnar form which means it grows up like a pillar with dense, horizontal growing branches.
The blue spruce was adopted as the official state tree of Colorado by the State’s school children in 1852. Today the blue spruce is often used as ornamental evergreen trees and makes a beautiful addition to any decent sized garden, its also a favourite with Christmas tree growers in the UK.