In our UK 100 year old garden there is a surprising number of plants in bloom at this time of year, however very few insects to pollinate them, so sometimes you need to help the plants along, like this early plum. Use a very soft brush or downy feather, it will improve cropping. I also do it with my peaches in the poly-tunnel, although leaving the doors open this time of year (if temp is not freezing) can help. My favourite flowering tree of all is this magical Umeboshi plum Prunus Ume.
This is actually more related to the apricot, and has a most heavenly scent. The fruit it produces can be preserved and have many health benefits.
It is pickled, salted or dried,
Their health benefits from recent studies include; Inhibition of H. Pylori bacteria which are implicated in gastritis and ulcers, dental disease and prevention of tooth decay and tests with rats show it has a remarkable effect on endurance exercising of skeletal muscle, so could help athletes!
It can be made into syrup just jar equal weight of sugar to plum and leave for 100 days. Seeping the plums in vodka or rice liquor, produces a smooth fortified plum wine. It makes a delicious plum sauce, cooked with sugar, vinegar, spices including ginger, great with poultry dishes.
It’s Mystical and cultural significance in Asia is second to none. Being depicted in ancient art and poetry for centuries. It’s flowering even in snow gives it a surreal and heavenly quality, and its fragrance seems to pervade the whole garden on the coldest of days. It has long represented endurance, perseverance and hope.
In Japan it is often referred to in Haiku poetry and a symbol of protection against evil, planted facing north east, the direction from which it comes.
Nothing is more representative of late winter than the Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis, which has naturalized itself in our garden thankfully avoiding disturbance over the many years.
The plant produces a chemical Galantamine, which is used in Alzheimer’s disease to slow progression.