Saturday 11 April 2020

Sea Buckthorn Hedging, Bulbs and Blossoms and Planting Potatoes - Week 3 - The Polyculture Project

It's warmed up here in Shipka and it's been glorious spring week full of blossoms and lush green shoots emerging.  Here are some photos from the forest gardens and what we've been up to the last week.

Prunus domestica - 'Čacanska Lepotica' flowering in our 2-year-old forest garden in Ataraxia. You can find out more about the design of this forest garden in our previous post here.

Prunus spinosa - Sloe  flowering in patches in Ataraxia 

Dylan and Archie planting spuds in a raised bed in Ataraxia.

I planted a short row of Hippophae rhamnoides -  Sea Buckthorn that I intend to prune to form a 80 cm wide and 2m high hedge. A member of the Elaeagnaceae family, the plant associates with Frankia bacteria to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere so the pruning should provide some good Nitrogen inputs into the garden.  I've not seen these plants in hedging before but they take well to pruning so should be fine. You can just about the see the plants still in their pots in the below photo. The plants are dioecious so you need a male plant to provide the pollen for the females to produce fruit. I planted 6 females 1m apart in the row and a male plant upwind from the females.  

I picked up some Liatris spicata - Gayfeather  starts the other day.  These perennial herbs are a  member of the Asteraceae originally from North America. The plants are hardy to USDA 3-9 so should do well here. They have a long history of medicinal use and are noted to attract wildlife.

The plant flowers in September so we'll see how our local pollinators respond to these North American newcomers.

Our Tomato seedlings are doing well in the sunroom. Sophie sowed 6 cultivars back in early February and we'll be starting to plant these out in late April.

Akebia quinata - Chocolate Vine starting to leaf out.

Scilla forbesii, known as Forbes' glory-of-the-snow, is a bulbous perennial from west Turkey flowering in early spring. The Honey bees have been feeding from the flowers this week now it's warming up again. We'll have these beautiful little plants available from the nursery next season.

Prunus cerasifera - Cherry Plum on the front of our house is in full bloom. This tree has yellow plums that ripen earlier than many of the local wild Prunus cerasifera - Cherry Plum.

 Last year it was relatively fruit sparse but this year it's on its way to producing a bumper crop.

Tulipa sp. - Tulip are emerging all over the garden and should be bursting into flower if the weather remains warm this week. We've been spreading them around the garden each year dividing clumps and planting them under and shrubs. The plants take advantage of the light during early spring and will dieback by mid-may providing a great source of biomass to the beds. You can see Vinca minor - Lesser Periwinkle ground cover growing around the tulips. 

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Erysimum cheiri - Aegean Wallflower flower buds ready to emerge 

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  1. Great post Paul, thanks! One question - how do you tell if the Hippophae rhamnoides are male/female when the plants are still young?

    1. Hi, On male plants the buds are larger, more protruding and have 6-8 covering scales.
      On female plants the buds are smaller, more elongated on the branch,and have only two covering scales. Very small yellowish pistolate flowers appear, usually before the leaves, late April to mid May.