Derek – Thursday 15th August 2019

August is a month that begins in summer and ends in autumn. Today, mid month, feels like an early autumn day. It is warm and windy, and many of the flowers have finished blooming, so you need to look a little harder to see what there is.

We have three small pear trees by the back stage all with fruit, which is likely to be ripe by the end of the month. We also have a small apple tree which has some good fruit, but also some withered fruit. I suspect it needs feeding, as it is growing in a container, as are all the others, and the soil in a container becomes exhausted after a year or two.

All these fruit trees have been grafted onto a root stock, which has been developed to keep the tree small. Grafting is a means of vegetative reproduction. A small twig of the variety you want, called a scion, is spliced onto the root stock. Root stocks for apples have been developed at East Malling Research Station in Kent. This research station was set up by commercial growers who found large apple trees inefficient for picking. You need ladders and special implements to get at the high fruit. And so the dwarf varieties were developed. It’s the root stock that allows any apple variety to be grown as a dwarf tree.

In fact, many varieties can only be grown by vegetative processes, usually grafting, as their seed would produce an inferior apple. For example, all cox orange pippins originate from a single tree first grown in 1830 in Buckinghamshire. Grafting, or similar, is the only way to keep this variety going.

We had a lot of rain yesterday, when it rained most of the day. But it barely shows in the pond which needs a couple of months of hard rain to fill. There’s snails, a few water boatmen, and I search again for daphnia but I cannot find any. There’s a single water lily raised over two inches above the water on a stalk.

I decided to look about the garden for plants which are growing outside the beds, some growing out of the woodchip. We need to remind ourselves what a weed is, as a number of these plants are regular garden flowers. A weed is a plant growing in the wrong place. And you may argue what ‘wrong’ means till the cows come home. It’s not a word that will stay in place.

Here’s what I found, growing outside the beds: alchemilla, plantain, hollyhocks, marigold, purple toadflax, trefoil, dandelion, michaelmas daisies, hedge mustard, sow thistle, woody nightshade, foxgloves.

The garden flowers in the list have mostly ‘escaped’ from our beds. The wild flowers may be ours or may have been brought here by birds, animals or the wind. Or they may have been brought in soil that has come from elsewhere.

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