9 September 2020
Figs, greengages and hardy geraniums
We’ve a beautiful fig tree at the front of the house and this year it has been laden with fruit. Ours is a ‘Brown Turkey’, reliably hardy and a reliable cropper. Getting the right spot to plant seems to be key; she needs somewhere sunny and sheltered and in not too rich soil. If you feed it too much you will get beautiful leaves but no fruit. I’ve struggled to find a really good pruning guide, so it gets a good old cut back about now and it seems happy. You will need space: ours before pruning stands at about 4 metres high and 3m wide so we’re going to have to get the ladder out to get at the highest figs.
We’ve also had a good crop of greengages. If I had space for only one fruit tree, it would be a greengage. You don’t tend to see them in the shops but the flavour is yummy and they are good to eat fresh or made into jam. They are even better stoned and then baked in the oven with a little butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar on top, wonderful with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Hardy geraniums have been really good this year. There seems to be one for almost every location and some will grow in shade; most aren’t fussy where you plant them. They are usually in the pink/purple/white spectrum, I have never seem a yellow hardy geranium. G.macrorrizum is not massively spectacular, but it has decent bright green leaves over a long period and makes good groundcover under trees or in any dry shady spot. The flowers are small and bright pink, pretty.
G.Ann Folkard is a beautiful magenta flowering scrambler. G. Rozanne flowers for ages and ages and is a lovely shade of blue verging on violet. It makes a gently spreading clump here at Charnwood. G. Phaeum is excellent in shade. It’s fairly tall for a geranium, seeds around gently. I t’s usual colour is dusky purple. ‘Mourning Widow’ is its rather off putting common name.
A. Psilostomen is a bigger chap, reaching a metre or more if it has something to support it. Unfortunately the bloomin’ rabbits have munched my lovely specimen, but when it does get a chance to grow the flowers are a gorgeous rich pink. You can get a spray to keep the rabbits off, but in my experience it doesn’t always work.
Another star this year is the pineapple lily, posh name Eucomis (see photo). It isn’t totally hardy but, having said that, we’ve a clump in a sheltered, sunny spot in the garden that comes up year after year with the aid of a thick mulch over the cold months. I’ve also a deep purple flowered one from the nursery at Great Dixter, now in a pot that I do keep frost free over winter. This is another easy and unfussy plant. It likes a feed every now and again though. You can get the bulbs at this time of year, or early next year.
I made some comfrey feed this year. It’s really easy; you just roughly chop up some comfrey leaves, put them into a bucket, weigh them down with an old brick and cover with water. It’s best covered up as it smells disgusting! After about 3 weeks, drain off the foul smelling liquid and add the much reduced soggy mess of leaves to the compost heap, then go! I add a beaker of feed to a 10 litre watering can. It’s done wonders for the tomatoes and is a good, general feed for almost anything. It’s free too!
Stay safe and well everyone.