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The Old Garden

(Last edited on Wednesday 01 July 2020)

This is based on an old file made in 2012 illustrating the garden at my previous house. I decided that although that garden no longer exists, this could stand as a record of my activities when I was more energetic.

There are about 40 square metres of ground at the front of the house and about 200 square metres at the back. The subsoil is heavy clay, but application of compost has got much of the the topsoil into a passable condition. I've planned the garden to be informal and fairly low maintenance. As I like woodland I've planted a lot of trees and have allowed them to overhang the paths in places.

In the back garden, nearest the house there used to be a rose bed, which I'm slowly converting to a herb garden as the old rose bushes die. Then there is a patio, recently constructed to replace an unsatisfactory lawn. The patio is surrounded by flowering shrubs underplanted with bulbs, while the bottom half of the garden is mainly devoted to growing fruit, especially redcurrants, gooseberries, plums, worcesterberries and apples, though there are also two greenhouses and there is a tiny vegetable patch.

Tour of the back garden

starting in the kitchen, looking out of the back door,

and then crossing the patio to ...

the beginning of the jungle under the big old Bramley apple tree

then through the jungle, passing the little vegetable garden to the left

past the first greenhouse, to the second greehouse with the small

Keswick Codling apple beside it.The bigger family cooking apple tree is ahead and slightly to the right.

Another picture of the vegetable patch

the South side of the garden, with ferns and hellebores in the shade of the Bramley apple tree and then the ornamental grass, roses and clematis where there's more light.

moving towards the house on the the North side of the garden. notice two waterbutts outside the kitchen

Some early March flowers, a Hellebore in the back garden and a Daphne in the front

Around 1994 I bought Morgan and Richards The Book of Apples which listed all the more than 2000 varieties then in the National Apple Collection and inspired me to find a nursery prepared to graft apples to order so at one time I had about thirteen varieties of apple, mostly on family trees. The total is now eleven - I removed a Cox's Orange Pippin that produced very little fruit, and a Wyken Pippin that wasn't getting enough light to flourish.

The full list is now: Beauty of Bath, illustrated,

Reinette Rouge Étoilé, Ribston Pippin, Ellison's Orange, Lord Lambourne, Margil, Keswick Codling, Flower of Kent, Bramley, and two other cookers on a family tree I inherited from mother. Mother said one of the apples on that tree was a Bramley, and some of the fruit look like Bramleys; I suspect another component, the most productive, is Newton Wonder, illustrated, but the third has never produced any fruit, so I wait for evidence.

The Flower of Kent is a clone of the tree that inspired Isaac Newton. I think mine was grafted onto the wrong rootstock, because it seems determined to grow to a great height, and until I stopped trying to frustrate that ambition it didn't even flower. Only in its ninth Spring (2005) did it for the first time produce one or two flowers, and it set its very first fruit only in 2010. It is an excellent cooking apply turning into a smooth puree with an intense flavour.

The earliest apples, Beauty of Bath and Reinette Rouge Étoilé, start to ripen in late July, and the other varieties between them last till November, and when crops are heavy the late cookers - Bramley and Newton Wonder - can be stored till the following Easter. There's also a large Victoria plum which crops fairly regularly since I took to thinning the fruit when there's a heavy crop.

Through membership of the Henry Doubleday Research Organisation I have access to seeds of vegetable varieties no longer available commercially, and I usually grow several such varieties of tomato; my favourites are Green Bell Pepper, Yellow Pixie and Whippersnapper. Each Autumn I collect seeds for the next year's crop.

I'm also a member of "The Royal Horticultural Society".

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