If there’s one thing I’m particular about – and there are many – it’s looking after our precious trees. Not only are they essential to maintain a healthy environment for us all, but they look fantastic and the trees on our land have become our friends.
It may sound mad and I’ll be accused of being a tree-hugger I’m sure – but what’s wrong with that? If it’s good enough for the Prince of Wales …
We’ve become good mates with the guys at SolihullTreeSurgeons.co.uk who are great arborists and know everything there is to know about trees and how to look after them. Ted is the main man and he’s been doing this work for over 20 years. It’s like he’s a tree whisperer because he seems to instinctively know what to do to bring out the best in each tree.
Sadly we had to cope with tree removal this year when one of the magnificent ash trees caught the dreaded disease that’s affecting so many. We took the decision to have it felled to try to prevent cross-contamination. I hope we’re in time to save the others.
We have quite a few oak trees around the property and they just need an occasional dead branch removed, but some of the horse chestnuts needed a bit more attention this year. I don’t know what’s wrong with them but a couple have leaves that turned partially brown early in the year and were clearly distressed. Ted has taken them under his wing, had a chat with a couple of them and hopefully done some magic so they look better next year. He muttered something about bleeding canker. I thought he was just using colourful language, but found this picture on Google.
Ours look similar as the bark is starting to peel. Really hoping they can be saved because the smallholding is going to look really bare and sad if we lose our majestic horse chestnut trees. And what on earth will the local kids do for conkers?
Ted says they have a good chance with the work he’s done so we’re all keeping our fingers and toes crossed that he’s right.
Alongside the bigger trees, Ted also looks after our fruit trees. None of them are what you’d call professional orchard standard, but they do provide us with a wonderful harvest every year, so we’re grateful and thoroughly enjoy picking and storing the fruit.
We have a selection of apples, including an old Bramley, but most of the varities are old and traditional. I keep thinking I must ask a local grower to identify them all because we really have no clue. But they taste so good straight from the tree don’t they?
As well as apples we have pear trees, almonds, damson and plum. So a good selection for both eating and cooking (then eating). I make a fine apple and plum crumble that always goes down a treat. Ted’s co-worker, Robert, is particularly partial to puds so I make him a nice crumble each year to take home for the family to enjoy. He has 6 kids so it has to be made in a big dish.
We’re all set for the winter now that everything is pruned and our friends at Solihull Arborists have taken care of our trees. We’ll look forward to bumper harvests next year and hope to see plenty of blackberries too because my particular favourite is apple and blackberry pie – with oodles of custard of course.