Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Oh, the pressure!

Magnolia 'Leonard Messel'

Every Spring it's the same - the pressure mounts to do the garden jobs that should have been done months ago, as growth accelerates. Added to which, this year I have been leading a Lenten Omega course on Climate Change, and I have just started the Foundation Course at the CofI Theological Institute - how on earth can I find the 17 hours required for the first assignment due on Monday, given that I have arranged to take visitors to the Burren on Saturday?

I have been planting hazel trees to make the nut walk for which I have hankered for years. I was given the first for Christmas and it has been reproaching me for three months every time I passed it - a wonderful present, it is the plain species (Corylus avelana), but inoculated with the truffle fungus (Tuber aestivum). The instructions say that I may be able to harvest my own truffles within 5 years! I shall look forward to that: gourmets rave over the aroma, though I have to confess that I have never been able to taste anything from the minuscule black specks they put into some patés. I know that it is possible to find truffles in Ireland, because my father found one in his garden only 5 miles away. He sent a bit to the Bots in Dublin, who confirmed it as a truffle, though not the true Black Truffle of the Périgord (T. melanosporum). He ate the rest and pronounced it nice, but not as good as the Périgord one. Truffles are ectomycorrhizal fungi, living in a symbiotic relationship with trees: tree roots feed the fungus with the products of photosynthesis, while the mycelium of the fungus feeds the tree with soil nutrients. T. melanosporum grows exclusively with oak. Cob nuts, which I also adore, are selected forms of the native hazel, so when I saw young plants for sale a few days ago I splurged. I got two varieties, Pearsons Prolific and Webb's Prize Cob, because set is better with different varieties. They are planted either side of the truffle hazel, and I hope the tuffle fungus will also colonise them.

Fritillaria meleagris in the Meadow
Elsewhere in the garden, the delicate pink blossoms of Magnolia 'Leonard Messel' have started to open on bare twigs. I am also delighted with the Snake's Head Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) in the meadow, which are spreading and colonising as I hoped. And I thought you, dear reader, might like to see this picture of the first tulips flowering with wallflowers.
Tulips and Wallflowers


Daniel & Sonja said...

Nice pictures Joc - yes it's a lot of work in the garden at this time of year - it's the monotony of cutting all the grass that gets me the most. And yet when we sit back on a sunny afternoon and enjoy our surroundings it's all worthwhile...

Joc Sanders said...

How kind of you, Daniel, but they don't in any way compare with your own beautiful pictures - I'm really a box-brownie man myself!

Strange to say, I don't mind mowing the grass at all, even though I have quite a bit of it. I rather like the steady rhythm of it which allows my thoughts to gently roam. It's the digging that gets to me, or more precisely my joints!

And an update on the new nut-trees: when I went out this morning to check, I found that someone - the hare I feel certain -had beheaded the truffle tree, and taken a branch off Pearson's Prolific! I have been putting up chicken-wire cages to protect them in the drizzle. There is murder in my heart ...