The tree fellas (get it?) were here yesterday: felling. They removed all the old spruce trees from the hill behind the polytunnel. The result is amazing but it's raining so the photos will come later. The rocky hillock (which was probably an island not so long ago) is now much more visible. We left the pine trees standing and they really stand out. On the downside, I don't think we'll have any chanterelles from that piece of forest this year, but I've become intolerant to mushrooms so that's no big deal (imo).
We are also going to remove some spruce and maples that are too big and too close to the house. We have oak, ash, horse chestnut, aspen and birch close to the house which looks more like a garden than a forest.
As for planting: we planted a few hundred pine on the moraine ridge behind Rosendal (the 'cuckoo' ridge) and hundreds of larch on the north side of the hillock in Ovantrask. They survived severe drought the year they were planted (2018), enjoyed a good soaking this winter and then got hit with a prolonged hot, dry spell this spring. I ought to go and count how many are left. (The elk quite enjoy nibbling the saplings.)
We've planted a lime tree up in Rosendal near the bee hives. This is because lime trees provide a substantial source of food for bees. The flowers also smell wonderful and can be used to make a tisane called tilleul. Lime trees can live for hundreds of years and grow up to 40m tall (but maybe not quite so big up here in the Nordics). The young leaves and the buds are edible but we're hoping the deer and elk don't take a liking to them. Our specimen is planted in a well-drained sandy soil (on a moraine ridge) racing south-east.
We decided to plant a windbreak in front of the polytunnel and chose Populus tremula 'Erecta' - aspen - for the job. This variety originates in Sweden and is suited to this latitude. It grows quickly and vigorously and is happy in any kind of soil: clay, sand, chalk even. Our are in thick clay - but we dug deep holes with the Avant and filled them with earth. The trees are also ornamental: the leaves tremble or rustle in the wind creating a shimmering effect. In the spring, aspen carry catkins and the leaves turn golden yellow in the autumn. We planted them 2.5 metres apart which will create a hedge in a few years time. The maximum height will be about 12 metres. The trees will filter the wind rather than create a barrier.
We have liquid gold in the form of honey but these are almost as precious:
While I was slaving over a blackcurrant bush... Peter was wandering through the woods following a tip off that there were chantarelles for the picking. He found a lot (almost a bucketful) and there are plenty more so we'll be going back as soon as the honey's done!
We have now picked about 15 litres of blueberries which have all been frozen. I have never seen such a good crop here in Rosendal, definitely one of the better years.
When I go back to Espoo I'll make some more jam and some muffins (for Fredrik who returns home in a few days) and the rest we'll keep for porridge during the winter. I don't think we can pick any more because we need the space for all the other fruit which is about to ripen: blackcurrants, redcurrants and gooseberries.
I picked 2-3 litres yesterday but I think they are still not quite ripe for picking. I had to sort them - there were a lot of small red and green berries coming off the plants with the ripe blueberries. A funny year: the volumes are huge and if the weather improves I think it will be a long season. I will freeze these - just because I don't have time to make cakes today.
We also found a few chanterelle mushrooms but barely enough for an omelette for two.
And while we were out in the woods, we found the remains of what could be behind the awful wailing that we heard coming from the forest last week.
The remains of a roe deer (or a baby white-tailed deer) very close to the cabin, maybe 50 metres away. All that is left are the leg bones and the hoofs. We didn't even find the skull bone. So, probably a lynx, difficult to be sure, but there are not many other things it could be apart from a wolf or a bear.
We picked a handful of bilberries which is just the beginning of what is going to be a bumper harvest, though the taste is watery rather than sweet.
We also found three chanterelles... with all this rain we MUST be able to find more! The moss is so full of water, it's like walking on sponge.
Around this time last summer we planted an ash tree up at Rosendal, opposite the old barn. It is doing really well - this cool, wet spring seems to give all the trees a boost.
It's a pretty area with a profusion of wild flowers in all the ditches and around the trees. Finland must have the most beautiful ditches in Europe!