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December.

A Black bird at home seems to be developing exotic tastes in fruit. She used to only take a few currants from the bushes, but started pecking the Figs back in the Autumn and in December she developed a taste for my Strawberry Tree. It was really growing well and a lot more fruit was developing than ever before, but I only managed to pick a few handfuls of ripe fruits as she kept taking them as soon as they started to turn colour. The Blackbirds had stripped our Rowan trees some time ago and obviously she decided to try something new. Previous years the birds did not bother with either the Figs, or the Strawberry Tree always leaving the fruit untouched. Nor can I blame bad weather, because as yet we have not had a cold winter, so the birds can still get plenty of natural food such as worms etc if they want to with the ground remaining unfrozen. Maybe itís my fault in part as mom used to feed them every day and I have stopped doing that. They say if you are going to feed the birds you should do it regularly, because they become dependent on you. I suppose the Black Bird thinks I have started to provide her with different fruit instead! On the other hand, the Blackbirds are stripping my Goji Berry on my Allotment and I never fed them at all up there!

Talking of the Fig tree, I have stripped off all the undeveloped Figs as they will not develop now and leaving them on will prevent a good crop next season. What I think happens is that if we have hard frosts the young embryo fruit get damaged and spoil. It is better for the tree to think that the fruit have gone, so that it produces new fruit buds in the spring in their place. It is a sticky job removing the fruit and you can wear gloves to do it, but the white latex like sap will come off if you rub your hands with dry dust from somewhere like the garage floor, before washing them with a good cleanser.

Elsewhere a few Cape Gooseberries ripened on the Allotment as their papery sheaths protected them from the birds, but there were not many. It was far too wet and many of the berries had not developed enough to ripen anyway as the growing season had not been warm enough for them. I have tried to save the Bushes again though by cutting them down hard, and then roughly potting them up, like I did with the Chrysanthemums, before putting them into my Greenhouse at home.

Obviously all the cut flowers finished for the house with the Chrysanthemums going over, but back in the middle of December I found a neglected Christmas Cactus in my Greenhouse that was nicely in tight bud. So, I took it into the house hoping for a bit of colour, although they donít like being moved when they are in bud and can drop their buds afterwards if you do. Fortunately it was a warm day when I moved it so that helped. Its flower buds have now opened nicely to give some welcome winter flowers. Usually Iím not so lucky with flowering houseplants as I am not very good at looking after them. Christmas Cacti are one plant that really are easy though and need no attention at all throughout the Summer as they can be allowed to really dry out and bake in a greenhouse before being brought in for Christmas.
Mom always had a Hibiscus in the window that she did from a cutting which never seems to stop flowering, even now, but it has few leaves and does always looks a bit sad and neglected as I often forget to water it. There are a few other house plants that can stand up to my lack of attention including; Chlorophytum, Aspidistra, Kalanchoe and Sanseveria. However, I may get an Easter Cacti in the New Year to see if that will also thrive on neglect. I think they want a little more regular watering and care though, as they come from a different climate to the Christmas cacti.
Still, it will only be a few weeks before the Chrysanthemums can go out on the Allotment again and other plants besides the Spring bulbs will soon start flowering.

 

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