1 December 2020
A distinguished resident
We moved into our garden (and house of course, but the garden was the clincher) in 1987, and one of the many good thing about the move was that we took custody of several beautiful trees. It has often been said that a true gardener is one who will plant a tree despite the knowledge that they will never be able to sit under it, in its shade. We are certainly benefiting now from the generosity and imagination of previous gardening residents of Charnwood.
In addition to a number of beautiful trees including a magnificent blue cedar, two glorious copper beeches, an oak and a lime, we also have fruit trees. I have waxed lyrical many times about the luscious fruit from the greengage; still my all- time favourite fruit tree, but we also have several apple trees. One of the few problems with moving into an established garden is that you don’t always know what variety of fruit tree you have, and I have often wondered about the lineage of our apples. We have enjoyed them for over 30 years, so I thought it about time I got myself organised to find out. A quick search on the internet and I found Brogdale where experts will identify your fruit for you. You have to pop three in the post with a cheque and a few details about the age and size of the tree and their keeping quality. Then wait in eager anticipation!
The response was quick and the news excellent: our trees are Cox’s Orange Pippins. We had no idea we had such a distinguished resident living with us!
If you would like to go on a similar voyage of discovery, the website is www.brogdalecollections.org ‘phone 01795 5362509.
The experience got me thinking: how about planting some more small, fruit bearing trees for future generations? We have space now since we cleared the rather overgrown front of tired shrubs. This is the time to order and plant bare root trees; they are cheap and readily available online. Garden centres and nurseries are remaining open during lockdown; they tend to sell trees in pots for more money but they are still good. You can also take your time to plant them, unlike the bareroot trees that need immediate attention or their fragile roots will dry out. I’m thinking of some smaller trees such as quince, crab apple and hawthorn. These are not as showy as some such as the cherries but their gentle presence is a better fit in our garden where we keep the more ornamental trees and shrubs to a minimum.
A fruit tree would make a wonderful and long lasting Christmas present wouldn’t it? Nottinghamshire seems to be famous for its Medlars. We have one at Charnwood (see photo), given to us nearly 30 years ago, that has slowly grown into a gently spreading and very elegant small tree. The autumn colour was a striking bright yellow and in spring it bears beautiful, single white flowers. For good quality tools Nawaki are excellent. I have a pair of their secateurs that are never far from my grasp: www.nawaki.com for the full range. Their most expensive pair of secateurs is over £200 (ouch!) but the more reasonable versions are around £30. At the other end of the price range, a selection of seeds is always a good gift. My favourite book this year has been ‘Beth Chatto, a life with plants’. Written by Catherine Horwood it includes details of Beth’s rather unconventional love life as well as her love of all things green.
This will be a strange Christmas for us all. I do hope you all manage to enjoy it with your family and friends in some way despite the worry and the constraints. Stay safe and well and here’s to a happier and healthier 2021.