Blackbirds are one of the most abundant birds in the UK. This male has set up home in the tangle of growth that is a Winter Flowering Jasmine. The coverage is so dense it provides excellent shelter and protection for nesting birds, aided by the fact it is an evergreen. During the winter it was covered in bright yellow flowers, great for insects awake early!
This bird has set up home with a female who has been with me in the garden since last year. She follows me into the polytunnel as I work in there and pecks around for grubs and insects in the softer ground. She comes so close I could reach out and touch her. Very useful for keeping the bug life under control.
Last year I bought 2 more fruiting trees for the garden, a Mulberry and a Medlar. These are not very commonly grown nowadays but both have been in the past. It’s a shame they have gone out of favour as they are both well adapted to our climate.
Mulberries are large berried fruit similar in appearance to blackberries. They are incredibly fragile and don’t travel at all well, meaning you won’t find them at the supermarket.
Medlar is another once popular fruit, replaced in the nation’s favour by apples and pears. They are much more interesting than either as they can be used in a variety of ways both sweet and savoury. They also have a more complicated flavour — cooked medlars have a taste similar to tamarind which I use a lot in my cooking. The raw fruit tastes of apple with a hint of cinnamon.
I have chosen the last two fruits especially to improve the biodiversity in the area, something I am particularly keen on, while bringing back old varieties before we lose them altogether. I’ll post pictures of blossom and fruits as the year progresses and let you know how successful they’ve been.
One of my favourite fruits is the humble raspberry. As such it will always have a place in my garden. It is super easy to grow in the UK and can often be seen growing wild. Mine are just starting to produce flower buds. They freeze easily and well and if you grow enough will see you through the winter for adding to things like porridge and yoghurt. If, unlike me, you can eat jam they make one of the best preserves, great if you run out of freezer room.
And here’s that Blackbird again, a beak full of bugs, bringing dinner home for the family.