Our Own Apricots

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I wish I could say that our apricot tree provides us with a magnificent crop, but the truth of the matter is that despite the wonderful weather, the couple of pounds of fruit we picked do not really justify the space the tree takes up.  By the time that the blue tits have pecked off half the flowers (apparently they find apricot flowers particularly delicious) and the blackbirds have stabbed at the fruit long before it is fully ripe, I’m amazed that we got even that many.  Still there were a few fine specimens that we ate fresh and we salvaged some of the damaged fruit and stewed them up.  They all tasted wonderful – now I have to decide the tree’s fate – a few delicious fruit in a good year – or more growing space.  The head knows what to do, but the heart may be less rational.

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A Haunt of Swedish Artists

Distant view of Bo Pensionat
During my recent visit to the island of Oland I stayed in a characterful guesthouse called Bo Pensionat. In the early 20th century it was a favourite meeting place and residence for some of the Vickleby School of artists who valued the wonderful light of the island. There is a distinctly Bloomsbury feel about the place, although I could find no evidence that they lived quite such Bohemian lives. Some of their paintings hang on the walls of the guesthouse and leafing through books about them I was very taken by the work of one of them – Arthur Percy – who was entirely Swedish despite the name (I photographed from the book so the reproduction isn’t great). I would love to have his still lifes hanging on my walls. Bo Pensionat is delightfully shabby chic, immensely peaceful and serves delicious food.A closer look at Bo-Pensionatflower painting by Arthur Percymore flowers in a vase by Arthur Percy

Oranges & Lemons

orange and lemon trees in old potsThe citrus trees are thriving in the hot, sunny weather. There’s loads of blossom and young fruit, so I’m making sure that they are fed and watered regularly, or the fruit will drop long before it reaches maturity. Apparently citrus need a minimum of eight hours of sunlight a day to really thrive and they are certainly getting that at the moment which is probably why they look so good. Inevitably it will all get a lot more difficult to achieve at the end of the summer when they will need that tricky combo of good light and protection, but for the moment I’m just enjoying their loveliness.
freshly opened orange blossomembryo lemons forming on a sub lateral

Create your own Seed Packets

Unless you diligently dead-head your annuals you’ll likely find an abundance of seed heads replacing the flowers as summer strides forward. The long warm days are great for drying seeds heads and there’s something very satisfying about harvesting them, it’s like money in the bank for next year.  I tend to leave them to dry out for a few weeks in a tray on a high shelf. Thereafter they can be put in packets, labelled and dated.  A pack of seeds makes a wonderful and thoughtful present, I tend to make up a few packets which can be used as emergency gifts or easily sent as a surprise with a letter.  Our free seed packet creator allows you to design your own seed packet. You can choose from a range of colours and patterns as well as enter a message before you print them out, so now you can be organised and prepared for the year ahead with style. Enjoy !
free custom seed packet templates

Step 1

Using our free seed packet templates choose your pattern, colour and type your message.

Step 2

cutting out a seed packet templatePrint out your custom seed packet and cut it out.

Step 3
where to fold the seed packet
Fold tabs along dotted lines and glue them down.make your own seed packets

Step 4
home made seed packet template
Put your dried seeds in and seal the top tab ! Voila.

a useful tip for saving seeds

funny donut seed packet

Tickle your Roots

It’s the time of year when it’s tempting to introduce some colour into the borders while waiting for the late summer blooms to get going. We all do it – and provided you prepare the ground well, water thoroughly and mulch, the plants should settle in well.  But when you buy large plants at this time of year they often have a mass of roots on the margins of the root ball even when they aren’t pot bound. It’s a good idea to gently scuff them up so that when you plant, the roots travel out into the surrounding soil rather than continuing to travel round in circles, following the shape of their previous home.  I’ve found that Sophie Conran’s hand rake is the perfect tool for the job –  at the end of each of its tines there’s a little kick in the opposite direction and these are ideal for gently loosening the roots. My new plants have all been given this treatment and look very happy in their new home.the root ball of a pot plantplant with root ball that has been tickled out.