Rural Life

The start of Autumn, 2017

It’s been less than the best of summers — months of cold and rain that were great for the new hardwood trees we’d planted around the house but terrible for most of the fruit trees — the peaches, cherries, nectarines and apricots, especially, were victims of blight, bugs and massive fungal hit jobs.

But we did finally stumble upon a few bright, hot weeks right at the end that gave the hardier plums a chance to ripen — and ripen they did. Only two of the five plums gave me fruit, but they were so generous about it that I found myself with way more than I could reasonably handle.

Bags of sweet, ripe plums were handed out like candy.

I likely might have had some decent apples and pears, as well, but I’d stripped them all (and there was *a lot* of fruit to strip) early in the season in order to give the very young trees a chance to strengthen and develop before they loaded themselves up with heavy fruit that was more likely to break all the tender branches in half than last through to harvest.

I’ll probably have to do the early-strip for another couple of years and then we’ll be ready for some serious fruit gathering from some nicely strong apple trees.

But the peaches and cherries . . . *sigh* I don’t even know if they survived this year’s weird spring / summer weather, they’re looking so poorly (and don’t even get me started on the sad, drooping Medlar; it’s a terrible blighted mess).

Here’s hoping that next spring provides a few happy saves from near death.

Bright Spots: the English oaks, Turkey oaks, London planes, sweet chestnuts, black walnuts, black mulberries and plums. These all sailed through the year with flying colours.

We also planted a broad group of native New Zealand shrubs, grasses and trees that are doing surprisingly well — which is not always the case, so there’s cause to celebrate in that regard.

We did lose a few mountain beeches, manuka and olearia, but not too many in the long run. And the plantings that survived seem to be genuinely living it up on our exposed, frost-prone and very windy site.

Bonus Points: We even got some sunflowers to open up before I had to cut most of them down to make room for more construction projects.

*(fist bump)*