Bramblings (bjørkefink) are common breeding birds at higher elevations, but it’s just possible that they will breed here one day. This is the closest I’ve got with a male singing the last few days in the garden, here atop a Norway maple (spisslønn), the flowers still waiting after two very cold weeks!
Easter is a big holiday here and it’s a tradition to decorate your home with various decorations (påskepynt) and the cheapest decoration is just to bring in some twigs that leaf out bringing a bit of spring atmosphere into homes. This is even more important this year when most people are at home! I do this every year too, but here the emphasis is on edible tree leaves and two of the best are lime (Tilia cordata) and beech (Fagus sylvaticus)! So here’s what this year’s looks like:
Last night’s 100% wholegrain sourdough barley, rye and oat pizza with masses of Hablitzia shoots was eaten with delicious lime leaves:
The leaves of Murraya koenigii (Curry tree or curry leaf plant) are commonly used in curries and in chutneys in India. Although it’s a small tropical tree (<6m), I would encourage even arctic gardeners to try to get hold of a plant (not currently available in the UK RHS Plant Finder) or seeds (try ebay). I’m pretty sure it could be propagated by suckers too! My experience is that it’s easy to grow as a house plant, which can be cut down to the soil as a young tree and resprout from the base repeatedly. I was given one in 2003 and I still had it in 2013, although it eventually died for an uknown reason. It even managed to flower but, although self-pollinating, I didn’t get any of the edible aromatic seeds! I still have a jar of home-grown dried leaves which can be powdered and sprinkled on vegetables and yoghurt.
I also had a Murraya paniculata (Jasmine orange) which is used for a similar purpose but it became infested with thrips I think and I had to throw it out before I could try it.
There are at least 8 species in the genus Murraya which is in the Rutaceae as are citrus fruits!
When I was away in January, the mildest ever recorded in this part of the world, this bird cherry that I received as Padus asiatica leafed out for the third year running in January, here seen with my only misteltoe (top left):
My only Rhododendron, R. mucronulatum v. taguettii from Jeju Island in Korea is also early out and full of flower buds, so I brought a few twigs indoors:
Most trees had an enormous production of seed and berries this year following the hot summer in 2018 and mild winter last year.
Most will be left for the birds, bringing both waxwings (sidensvans) and blackbirds (svarttrost) close to the house!
This tree was probably not much taller than me when we moved here in 1984. 35 years on and it’s approaching the height of the mature birch trees nearby.
Pictures below of the small red female flowers at the tips of shoots and the more obvious clusters of male flowers which are laden with pollen. Good news for the siskins!
There were 3 young roots worth trying so I harvested them and baked them in their skins together with potatoes. They seem to need a bit longer than potatoes. The skins peeled easily off after baking and they were crispy with a good mild taste. If you have a ready supply of seed, they can be grown and harvested a bit like carrots when quite young!
This spring the tree died (at 15 years old) with no sign of life in the above ground parts, but when disposing of the plant I noticed that the young roots looked healthy, so I harvested them and repotted the remainder of the root to see if it might resprout and after several weeks in the window sill it now has fresh leaves, so not dead after all!
I didn’t get round to eat the young roots…they were left inside for a month and looked withered and inedible, but cutting in to one it looked good inside and indeed it was tasty and almost free from fibre….so we ate it in a stir-fry dish last night!