Things are changing fast now in the garden. The large pear tree has lost much of its blossom, washed off by the rain or blown away by the wind, leaving confetti on the ground as a reminder. The small pear cordon still has most of its blossom though. The sour cherry half-standard is covered in open blossom and you can see it emerging here. The sweet cherry fan has fewer flowers and they are starting to fade. The flowers on the apples are starting to open up. The Redsleeves came first, then some on the Tydeman's Late, then the Annie Elizabeth which has a beautiful red colour to the outside of the petals. So far this apple is showing no sign of the lime-induced chlorosis that it suffered from last year - I'll follow that up when the leaves are bigger. About 10% of the flowers on the existing apple at the end of the garden are out now. The flowers on the Court of Wick are just starting to appear. My neighbour also has a big standard apple that is now in full bloom and looks beautiful. So it looks as though there should be plenty of overlap in flowering times between the apples and hopefully that will lead to really good pollination. One thing I've noticed is the difference in scents from the blossoms. None of them are very strong, the pear blossom has a slightly fishy smell, the cherries don't seem to smell at all and the apples have a really nice rose-like smell.
Flowers are starting to appear on the quince tree too now. The tree is interesting because it flowers after it has put on some growth in the spring, unlike the rest of the trees which flower from buds that are there at the start of the spring.
Lower down there are other plants in flower now too. Rosemary has small delicate blue flowers, the grape hyacinths are fading, but Spanish bluebells are taking their place. Forget-me-nots and dandelions are still going strong. One of the blueberries has developed its pale bell shaped flowers and the other's flowers are developing shortly behind.
The large pear tree has been in flower for a few days now. The first flowers opened on the 17 April and now they are nearly all open. It is making the garden look very spring-like.
The flowers on the nearby cordon (Onwards) have just started to open on the 21 April - see below.
Hopefully this might be just close enough to pollinate some of the larger pear tree flowers. There are a few flowers on the larger tree that have still to open so hopefully these will be pollinated by the Onwards tree.
The flowers started to develop at the beginning of April and I captured the process in a time lapse video.
Other trees in the garden are starting to develop flowers too. The sweet cherry fan is in flower and the acid cherry and apples have young flower buds.
All of these flowers are making the garden a beautiful place to be at the moment. There are lots of bees and other insects enjoying them too. I'm also seeing an unexpected benefit of cutting down the huge Leylandii at the end of the garden - I now have a view of lots of different trees, half of which are in bloom too. It feels like a small woodland spread across all the gardens. Hopefully that's how it looks to the wildlife too.
Spring is definitely on its way. I saw the first butterfly of the year today - a yellow one flying through the garden. It was probably a Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni). The sun was out today and warming the mulch up around the trees. I noticed lots of small spiders scurrying around on the ground. The buds are developing on the pear and quince trees too - see the pictures below.
When I planned the original tree planting there were a few trees that I couldn't get hold of at the time. I wanted to plant an edible hawthorn to introduce some different fruit, because they apparently do well on chalky soils and are also ornamental. Having looked at the Plants for a Future database I settled on Crataegus schraderiana and ordered one from the Agroforestry Research Trust. Looking back at the pfaf listing, I had missed the part about the smell of the flowers - hopefully it won't be too stong or last too long! I'll give it a try anyway.
I also realised that I can get in a couple of cordons, one on either side of the sweet cherry growing along the west-facing wall. I've ordered a Concorde pear for one side, as I thought a pear would benefit more from the heat of the wall. I chose that variety because it is supposed to be of very good quality and it's flowering time fits in with the other pear cordon I planted (Onwards). In some ways it might have been better to choose a variety with a slightly different flowering time to make sure that the existing pear is fertilised, but I liked the sound of the Concorde, so I will wait and hope that they will all be compatible. I'm going to leave the space at the other side of the cherry tree for another year as it currently has a small stack of Leylandii logs being seasoned for firewood (I'm hoping that most of the resin will get washed out if I leave them long enough). I was thinking that I would like to get an older, more unusual apple variety, but I will wait and see how the other trees do before I decide.