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Walking round my trees at the Welsh Hovel after another night of fierce wind

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 5 February 2024

Gosh how the wind howled last night. It seems to rush down the lane to the Welsh Hovel and the first bedroom it heads past is the one where the Mrs and I sleep, when not being disturbed by one of the cats sheltering from the storm. Maybe we hear it a bit more loudly than others as there is part of the end wall in out bedroom which is a bricked up window tax window and so the wall is thin at that point.

After several storms this winter and the usual flooding of the lower fields I have now reviewed almost all of the trees planted here during the past four years and I am pleased to say that all who started the winter alive have survived.  The five edible olives in the top field are all shooting up at the base although there are no leaves on the actual branches. It looks as if all have survived a second winter in Wales.  In the same field the sweet chestnut and mulberry trees planted last year all look to have survived but I fear that my attempted blackthorn hedge needs an awful lot of work as it is enmeshed in weeds. There is one sweet chestnut that went West two years ago in its first year that I need to replace at some point

The cherries that line the road down to the Hovel are already starting to bud. Last year, their fourth in the ground, we had enough cherries to make a cherry crumble. This year, with an additional two trees planted next to where the snake barn used to be, I am hopeful of more and of some splendid blossom in the spring.

The upper orchard I created with 36 apple, pears, plum and crabapples trees plus three figs trees, a dog’s arse tree  and a couple of Mountain Ash trees donated by my pal “chemtrials” Dave, all looks to be in good shape. There are a couple of smaller trees, I cannot remember what, that for one reason or another bought the ranch last year and will be replaced with yet more apple trees in the spring.

But the big success is down by the river where, last year, I planted 25 apples either side of the path that the fisherman cut with a tractor four times a year. I kept the grass back around those trees to ensure they got all the water going in the summer and all were staked in very firmly as where they live is always underwater, sometimes quite rapidly moving water, two or three times a year.  I have dreams that by the time my son Joshua has a nice g/f they will be able to stroll through an arcade lined by those apple trees, an early fruiting variety which should be picked before September.

I had worried that the floods would take those trees away but they have all survived, even one that I erroneously planted right by the bank. Indeed, walking along the river this morning as I headed off to see the local Shipman, I could already see buds on every single tree: they are flourishing. We might just get some apples from them this year.

At the top of the vegetable garden there are two peach trees which I have not yet examined. The weather has been too cold and windy to start gardening and my back is not yet fixed after last week’s visit to the Countess of Chester. But the Shipman took the bandage off this morning and the stitches come out next week. At that point there really can be no excuse for not planting another five apple trees, the late fruiting ones that arrived last week, up with the peaches. I might even treat myself to another couple of peach trees. And at that point I think I should be ordering another twenty early flowering apples to extend Joshua’s romantic walkway all along the lower field.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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