The Coming Age of the Fruit Trees

It was a glorious kitchen garden this high summer, but, standing in it trying to mark out garlic rows in the pressed clay, we see that the Entrance Field is once more just that: a field. And a muddy field at that: stand there for too long and I’d lose my wellies. What plants remain, whether here or under glass, have slowed to standstill: there is no more to be done. Now I have to confront the annual bout of existential puzzlement: what does it mean to be a Grower when it’s not the growing season? Is it to be basically the less amusing equivalent of a pantomime horse outside of the panto season? Do I exist? Is there really more to life than vegetables?

I was pleased to resolve the latter philosophical question at the weekend. The answer is of course: “yes, fruit”. I re-learnt this at the “Fruit Growing Essentials” course we hosted at Hawkwood. Of course, fruit is no longer dripping from trees in gardens and waysides across the land. But in one of nature’s many serendipities, down time in the vegetable gardening calendar corresponds to a spike in activity when it comes to tree and shrub care.

On the course we pruned apples, worcesterberries, blackcurrants; we dug planting pits for cherries. My thoughts began to turn to the cherry orchard, Entrance Field espaliers, Raspberrry Row, and the late apple orchard we will be planting in the winter. These features could last a century or more, making them pretty important and worrisome projects in the planning: so as a collective we’ve delegated it to  Sean to have most of the sleepless nights over them this year  – albeit backed up by the considerable might of the Fruity Friday gang and their arsenal of slashers,  spades and mattocks.

As tree planting season comes into view though, these projects will come into sharp focus for us, so it’s good to feel in a position to give them a bit more attention, and Sean a bit more support. Alas, a pantomime horse does not a cavalry make.

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