My apple tree arrived in the post in Autumn. I had really wanted a wildlife friendly tree for my little (rather problematic coastal) garden. This one was a birthday present and just perfect. It had clearly been a very fruitful tree when it set off from the nursery, but sadly by the time it arrived, most of the crab apples had fallen off and lay at the bottom of the cardboard box! The tree itself seemed healthy enough, and was soon planted. The crab apples scattered round the tree, soon vanished.

It’s not done too badly. Sheltered from the salt winds in part by a large hedge, most years it’s managed to blossom. A few fruits have also appeared. A friend who planted similar trees, asked me if I had any recipes for the crab-apples. I don’t, and even if I did fancy some crab apple jelly, I really wouldn’t deprive the birds of their bounty.

The birds love their little tree. The sparrows first fly in to the hedge in no-mans land, then onto the tree, which has more sparrows than leaves at times! Then they launch themselves at the bird feeder to fight the starlings for a share of the bird seed before returning to their favourite perch. Blue tits, robin, dunnocks and wrens, they all fight for their corner of my precious little tree, currently covered in honeysuckle.

If you like trees, or would like to learn about trees, perhaps you would like to help out as a tree warden? Groups run in Seaford and Newhaven, and no prior experience is needed. You’ll help to care for the trees in your town, and you’ll learn more about planting and caring for trees. If you’d like to know more about tree planting, Brighton Permaculture Trust also run courses on caring for fruit trees and orchards. You can find out more here:

A few weeks ago I visited Stanmer Organics near Brighton when they had an open day. It’s a fantastic place, formed in 1997 as a co-operative consortium. Its primary function is to support projects that promote health,¬†well-being, education and¬†greener more sustainable lifestyles. Half the projects are Horticultural based, others house Eco builders and Arts and Crafts based projects.

Some new tenants had discovered peach trees and more on their overgrown plot underneath the nettles!

There was also a nursery that specialises in growing and supplying native trees and hedgerow shrubs. All are grown organically from seeds or cuttings from Sussex. Their name? Special Branch trees (what a great name!)

If you too fancy growing a crab apple tree, maybe buy one from there, or another local nursery instead of through the post!