Winter planting

Early start this morning to drive down to a local nursery, where awaiting me were a Gage tree (Prunus domestica) and a bundle of Euonymus europaeus saplings. These were for the almshouses were I garden one day a week. The Gage – a beautiful specimen – was being planted to ‘replace’, on the guidance of the Conservation Officer, a massively overgrown Bay tree which was removed a while ago. I never saw the Bay myself, but it is spoken of in tones of enthusiastic dislike by the residents who did. It was enormous by all accounts, and cast a deep gloom over the corner of the garden it occupied. 

Anyway, it’s gone now. And the Oullin’s Gage I planted today is a beauty. It will bear white blossom and golden fruit, and cast only a modest shadow for the time it is in leaf. 

Oullins Gage can be used in cooking to make pies and jams, but is also sweet, juicy and delicious eaten straight off the tree. A large fruit by gage standards it needs a sunny position to produce a decent crop – so it suits the middle of what is, effectively, a fairly open courtyard garden.
As for the name,it was introduced from France in the late 1800s, and is named after the town (now more a suburb) of Oullins near Lyon.  

The Euonymus hedge runs alongside one of the borders, against a path and in front of the outbuilding I use as a garden shed. The saplings were extremely healthy, and have gone in well. They will take a wee while to thicken up but the residents’ idea is to have a ‘wildlife’ hedge rather than a purely ornamental one.

On the other side of the garden are a very large Yew (Taxus baccata), and an unnamed apple tree (the apple is visible in the picture above), both of which are currently awaiting a visit from the tree surgeon to bring them under control. The Yew in particular is shading out several beds which desperately need more light. One in particular is shaded by the tree on one side and a high north-facing wall on the other, and struggles to grow anything (despite being marked on the plans as a ‘vegetable plot’ – a cruel joke, I suspect). And, of course, the lawns are plastered during the autumn with sticky red Yew berries, which adhere to any and everything including gardeners’ trousers and boots, whilst failing to attract any birds.

Once these two are dealt with balance will be restored, light let in, and growing resumed.

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