Raise fruits from kernels and stones and keep an eye on the wren

Raise fruits from kernels and stones and keep an eye on the wren

To get the most out of the space under trees, consider food crops and ground cover. Prune currants in winter, and on wet days try to raise houseplants from seeds. Diminutive wren nut is easier to spot in winter.

1. Forest food

Wild garlic thrives under deciduous trees (Photo: Getty)

Traditional crops can disappoint in the shade, but alpine strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currants, black or especially red and white currants provide useful crops. Edible flowers, including aquilegia and daylilies, grow in partial shade and, for deeper shade, violets. For flavors, mint and horseradish grow in light shade, while wild garlic thrives under deciduous trees. For salads, consider chard, spinach and watercress. In addition to being suitable for shady places, these crops offer a way to use space under fruit trees.

2. Subplanting of trees

For dry, shady conditions under deciduous trees, consider woody evergreen plants, including ives with glossy reflective green leaves or bright variegated shapes, and periwinkles (vinca) with abundant purple-blue spring flowers. For moist acidic soils, try Pachysandra ternata, including the arguably more classified variegated form P. terminalis Variegata. Herbaceous plants include Polygonum affine “Darjeeling Red”, whose leaves die of red in autumn but last all winter, and evergreen Ajuga reptans “Atropurpurea”, with bronzed leaves. Iris foetidissima seed pods divide in winter and reveal brilliant orange-red seeds.

3. Currant pruning

Ripe home-grown blackcurrants (Photo: Jill Ferry / Getty)

Blackcurrants are relatively simple; remove a third of the shoots in winter to near the ground, concentrating on the oldest. New shoots will form from spring, replacing less fertile older ones.
For white and red currants, older shoots carry the crop so that pruning is easier. Shorten the tips of new growth by half and cut new side shoots to two buds from the main stem. Remove all old and barren shoots, leaving a youthful replacement.

4. Fruit core plants

Raise attractive deciduous plants from seeds and stones (head). Dates grow easily from seeds of the dried fruits left over from Christmas, while attractive glossy seedlings emerge from lemon and other citrus seeds. Some exotic fruits like lychee, mango and pomegranate can also produce unusual houseplants. Avocados are the easiest: Simply sow fresh seeds in pots and place them on a radiator for fast germination. Keep the plants in a warm, sunny place; or, for citrus, a cool, bright room.

More about Gardening

5. Boundary nut

Small 10 cm wren goes into gardens, especially overgrown gardens, from nearby wild places. Their loud song gives them away. The females choose one of the many moss-covered nests that the males offer to lay in April. They hunt spiders and insects with fast, arrow movements. They often feed infrequently, but appreciate water, including bird baths.

Guy Barter is the Chief Horticultural Adviser at the Royal Horticultural Society (@GuyBarter).

The Royal Horticultural Society is a charity working to share the best in gardening and make the UK a greener place. Learn more at rhs.org.uk

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