Arboretum Notes

This year I limited my grafting to Baldwin and Russet. There’s an excellent Russet at the in-laws’ cottage, much nicer than the Golden Russet of the grocery stores. It’s very old and down to one bough now; I really want to preserve it. My grafts didn’t take, but one Baldwin did. Weakly. It has one leaf and is not a happy-looking graft, but it’s not a dead graft either, so I am being optimistic and trying not to go look at it every day, awaiting its shrivelling demise. I’ll try Jones budding in August again. That’s how I was successful with the Bishop’s Pippin. [*Nov. 2012: Comparison with an undoubted Baldwin reveals that what I thought was a Baldwin isn’t. Nor is it a Baxter. Whatever it is, I like it better than either and still want to propagate it.]

A friend brought me a bagful of black walnuts from her tree in Hull. I packed them in layers of leaves in a pot and buried that under a bag of leaves for the winter. In the spring I removed some of the leaves and covered them in compost. The pot is in full sun now, but goes into the shade whenever I’m away for a few days so that it won’t dry out if overlooked by my plant-waterer. Over the last two days, three little, fernlike walnut shoots have emerged. I’ll wait a bit to see how many more appear, than transfer them into deeper individual pots for the summer.

The problem with trying to garden with trees is that unless you start when you’re a teen, you’re never going to see your landscape at its most magnificent. However, if you do don’t do it, nobody will ever see that landscape you have in your head, so you have to plant, and trust to a succeeding generation to value what you’ve made. At present, of course, being a renter, my arboretum is merely a nursery, an arboretum-in-waiting. (However, the orchard part of it has reached the point of bearing fruit.)

Must indoctrinate the nephews in the appreciation of Humphry Repton and Capability Brown.


About K.V. Johansen

The author of Blackdog, The Leopard, The Lady, and Gods of Nabban, epic fantasies from Pyr, I also write for teens and children, including the "Torrie", "Warlocks of Talverdin", and "Cassandra Virus" series, and the "Pippin and Mabel" picture books, as well as a couple of short story collections and two works of adult literary criticism on the history of children's fantasy literature. I have a Master's degree in Mediaeval Studies, and read a lot of fantasy, science fiction, and history. Blog at
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