Winter Protection

I held off as long as I could, but over the last few days have popped most of my trees into cover for the Winter.

Empty Display Benches

This is where everything is hiding.


Can Yew Help?Can Yew Help?

Phil called asking if I could help him shift and repot a Yew yesterday.

The Yew came from a club members garden. It was originally 12 feet tall but Phil cut it back and put it in a fish crate back in March 2011. The owner decided a few weeks later that it was too big for him and said Phil could have it.

Now, this presented a problem as it was too big to transport as it sits in a large fish crate. He opted to remove it from the crate and wrap the root ball for transporting back to Belfast, where it would be potted again. As it was big and heavy, he asked me to give him a hand. The plan was to repot and place it in the poly tunnel on the heat bed. Here’s the afternoon in photos.

The tree sitting awaiting collection by Phil.

The tree in the back of the car.

and in the driveway.

When we pulled it out, I was amazed at the new roots produced last year. It had been potted into fine tesco cat litter, finer than we normally use but it had worked well.

On closer inspection we could see the remains of the original burlap sack in there and even the sandy soil that it had contained. It was obvious that the tree hadn’t issued any roots into this old compacted soil. It was important that this was removed now. The best way to do this was using the hose to avoid damaging the new roots. The best way to do it without making a mess of Frankies Drive was to do it into a street drain 🙂

Frankie makes sure all is in order!

Washing out the old soil.

Clear to see the hole left when this is removed. No fresh roots had even tried to fill this area.

A quick check that the mica training pot will work out.

A mix of grit and cat litter, heavier grade, was added and the tree was watered in.

The hose is kept on until the water runs clear. This required two watering sessions before it worked. You can see the murky colour here.

Here’s the tree potted up with Phil standing to attention 😀

The next step was to remove the branches that were never going to be part of the final design. No point in energy being wasted on growth that’s going to be removed. A few of the heavier branches were roughly jinned as the will be deadwood in the final design. This stops the tree from issuing new growth on them in the meantime.

These will be reduced greatly in the future.

After thinning out.

A second watering to get the clear running water.

Next space was created in the tunnel to allow it to be placed onto the heat bed. Not an easy task!

A mild day.

I took a few other snaps in the garden while the sun was out.


Korean Fir

Frankies Chinese Elm Hedge!! Full leaf out doors.

and that was me for the day, I buggered off before the clear up started lol.

First Walk of the New Year

Sunday just happened to fall on New Years Day this year and, never to be deterred,  we had our usual walk. About 9 miles along the coast from Holywood to Bangor, I must admit I could feel the holiday excess eating taking a toll!

As usual here are a few snaps taken along the way.

Some of my usual attempts to capture birds in flight or otherwise.

A goose

A hooded Crow

A normal black crow picking through the rock pools for sea snails .

and most unusual, these two different types of crow were together. First I’ve ever seen this.

Perfect wind for  little sailing on the lough.

Hawthorn still carrying it’s harvest.

A nice mixture of moss, grass, heather, sedum etc growing in among the rocks. Natures kusamono .

Most important on a good walk is good company. My two brothers..

My mate Stephen, out with his new camera. Watch this space for his new bonsai blog coming very soon 🙂

and lets not forget my two best mates, Smudge and maggie 🙂

Winter Bloom

A few photos taken around my parents home. My Dad’s a real plant lover and has the greenest fingers of anybody I’ve ever met. He could make a fence post shoot roots. 🙂 There’s always colour in the garden somewhere if you are willing to look.

and finally, Mum’s Christmas Cactus.

Feed The Birds, It’s Christmas Time….

Just a reminder to feed those birds this Winter. I took a few shots of birds yesterday when I visited my parents farm just outside Belfast. Here’s what was on offer. Not very sharp as they were taken through glass.

Great Tit

Blue Tit

Coal Tit

Robin, shy one. Just managed to get a quick one before it disappeared.

Chaffinch, female and male.


These were not outside 🙂 My Dad keeps a few more exotic birds about the place. All taken through a wire cage so again, a little blurry.

and lastly, the other side of Christmas 🙂 Life on the farm…

I was going to rotate this one 180 degrees and make it look like they are taking off, but that’s just sick 😉

Trident in December

This is my Trident pictured during the week. As you can see, it has been reluctant to drop its leaves. The few that are missing is more down to gale force winds than Autumn/Winter. This tree has been outside since March.

I usually defoliate this tree every year but next year I’m planning on a different technique to compare results. I’ll keep you posted.

Batten Down the Hatches

On Wednesday I took an hour and placed the remaining trees that require protection in the poly tunnels. Temperatures are to drop again at the weekend and the wind is getting to dangerous levels! I didn’t want to leave the tunnel door open any longer in case it took off!!!

Here’s the new tunnel. a little space left but I still want to have access to the trees at the back.

Door closed

The other tunnel.

A little space left here too but I have young Jamie from the club’s trees coming for a few months for protection.

I still have a few trees outside tucked under the bigger benches. Nothing that I’m worried about so, do your worst Winter 🙂

Korean Hornbeam Winter Tidy

I braved the garage yesterday to tidy up a few more trees for Winter. Weather has well and truly gone to pot. Last night saw our first snow here.

The Hornbeam was still holding on to a few leaves but this was soon sorted out.

After leaf removal.

Another important step was to remove the moss to stop pests hiding there. I removed it from the Hornbeam and found quite a few leather jackets lurking there. No wonder the Blackbirds where showing so much interest!

The white stuff is Mycellium which I was surprised to see so much of on a Hornbeam.

This was the tree before placement in the poly tunnel for Winter.

Loading the Tunnel

I popped over to see Phil and his trees on Thursday. I had left my camera at my arse and was only able to grab a few phone shots.

He was in the process of cleaning up his trees and placing them into the Poly Tunnel. Most have been placed onto the hot bed. They had to be, it’s 3×2 metres!

Some trees still outside awaiting attention. Bigger tunnel??

Beech Stripped

I was clearing up some of my trees yesterday in preparation for Winter. This Beech was on my list for putting into the Poly Tunnel. This tree is 63 years old. Forestry records 🙂 This is it with the leaves still clinging on.

And this it after Stan and I did a little plucking. I always like to remove the leaves on my Beech over the Winter. This way I can enjoy the branch structure and it leaves fewer places for little beasties to hide.