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Fig Tree
         
The hole   Paving retaining walls   Hard core base
John Innes number 3   Fig tree root   The final result
         

May 29th 2014

James

Planting a fig tree

There are few things more enjoyable, I feel, than biting into a freshly picked fig and it is at this time of year that my eyes are drawn to the fig trees that adorn quite a few of the gardens in south west London. The sight of a tree with few or no developing fruits allows me to comment with the annoying self-assured wisdom common to people who know next to nothing about a particular subject, "That's because the roots haven't been restricted."

I remember being taught this by my mother and have, since then, always tried to find evidence of such growth retardation around those trees heavily laden with beautifully ripened figs, occasionally receiving rather anxious and bemused looks from house owners, from behind their living room curtains, as I investigate the ground around their fruit trees. My rootlings have, however, invariably been unsuccessful and I had begun to question this piece of hand-me-down knowledge, but considered it a betrayal of trust to check upon its veracity. The recent purchase, however, of a beautiful, healthy specimen of Ficus carica 'Brown Turkey', provoked an internet search and I was delighted to see that the restriction of excessive root growth is recommended. Several techniques are described (including simply growing the fig in a pot) but I elected to go with the Gardeners' World suggestion: a two foot square hole lined on four sides with paving slabs; a base of hard core to help drainage; and a soil-based peat (John Innes No. 3). You will find few better photographs of this technique than I have shown here!

I look forward to my first bumper crop.

 

 





   
 
San Francisco dawn
         
St Mark's Lutheran Church   Fire escapes   Bay Bridge, San Francisco
         
         

May 6th 2014

James

Lund Academic Choir

I have just returned from a short trip to San Francisco where I had been invited to give a few talks at a medical conference. The eleven hour long outward journey from Heathrow in cattle class was made slightly more bearable than normal by the presence of a group of fifty young Swedish university students, the female members of whom had clearly been given a lecture on the importance of exercise during flights. At regular hourly intervals one or more of them would stand in the aisle and perform balletic pirouettes and stretches which I found infinitely more enjoyable than the selection of recent film releases available on the tiny video screen in the back of the seat in front of me.

I noted that some of these performers wore sweatshirts bearing Lund University colours, which brought back happy memories of the four weeks that I spent in in that town in southern Sweden as reward for obtaining the Nycomed Travelling Scholarship in 1989; during a subsequent conversation with one of these students it was brought to my attention, rather unnecessarily I thought, that this was in fact before most, if not all, of the students were born. I found out that they were members of the Lund University Academic Choir at the start of a short tour to California and I was pleased to hear that their first concert was planned when I would still be in the city. Thus it was that at 8pm on Saturday I sat down in the balcony of St Mark's Lutheran Church to enjoy a wonderful hour-long performance of 'A-capella music from the Nordic countries' which included this beautiful piece: 'Till Österland vill jag fara', 'To the Orient I would hazard'.

 

 

 

 





  © Copyright Thomas Jackson 2010