Friday, 9 July 2010

When will there be a harvest...

It has been a strange year in the garden so far. There have been several disasters on the vegetable-growing front, but the fruit is just going mad. I feel a little like Marie-Antoinette; the peasants may be grumbling about losing half of their potato harvest, but never mind. Let them eat raspberries!

This is my Merton Glory cherry tree. It went into the ground five winters ago as a 1-year maiden - essentially a stick. This is the first harvest I have had from it. And what a harvest! It has the benefit over the other two cherry trees in our little orchard in that the cherries aren't bright red when ripe. Which means that by the time the birds notice them, I have eaten them.

There was a moment of sadness on tasting the first sweet, juicy fruits.
It was another of those Friday night rituals we had during the Summer months. All week I would check the veg garden and fruit bushes for whatever was nearly ready. When he arrived home and before the mowing started, we would have a stroll around, nibbling things here and there and deciding what to eat that weekend.

He wouldn't have been able to eat many of the cherries, though, as they made his mouth itch during hayfever season. So I don't feel too guilty in having these all to myself.

And this is Harry Baker, the crab apple tree we planted to ensure that all the other apples had a pollinator. It is a fabulous little tree with deep pink blossom in the Spring and good-sized, dark red fruits that look very handsome when Autumn comes around. I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do with them all - there is only so much jelly one person needs - so I suspect the pigs might do well from Mr Baker.

Last on this brief tour of the highlights of the orchard is Tydeman's Late Orange, a sweet, crisp Cox-type apple. I only had half a dozen or so apples from it last year. Now it is groaning with fruit. I hope it lives up to its billing as a reasonable storing apple.

R and I planted these trees along with several others on a cold January morning five years ago. Gardening wasn't his thing at all, but he could always be relied upon to dig a deep hole for me when I needed one, all the more so if it was for a tree. He was very fond of trees, particularly the native British species. Tree-planting is something you do as a commitment to a place. It is a sign that you intend to stay there for years to come, and an investment for your old age.

It breaks my heart that he isn't here to see a return on his investment and to taste the fruits of his labours. Their permanence seems to somehow emphasise his absence more than almost anything else.


  1. megan16:55

    oh I felt this post.

    Just planted a stanley plum tree here, in the place we rented. We were planning a move to a place of our own for the fall, and we didn't get to. I may plant some of his ashes here under that tree. If I ever move from this house, I want part of us still here, where we lived.

  2. Such beautiful trees and fruit.

  3. Such a poignant post, J. As always, your photos are wonderful.
    These have been the kinds of thoughts and feelings I've had since arriving here at the house in Nova Scotia. Not quite the same, but similar. We had worked so many years toward the goal of selling our farm and retiring here -- and now I am here alone. It makes me feel sad for him. As for planting trees, there's also a bit of sadness there as well as we planted several fruit trees and many, many other trees (hundreds) of all kinds on our farm. Some were becoming very large - the butternut and black walnut, maples, and white pines, among others. The person who bought our place grows xmas trees and apparently, from what friends have told me, just hacked down most of the trees on the property, some of which were as old as 35 years. Stuff like that grates, but I try to ignore it and think instead about how this property will now be protected for some time - probably for as long as I live.

  4. @Megan: I hope your plum is doing better than mine. The tree is growing vigorously, but no sign of any flowers or fruit yet. One day, perhaps. And a tree you planted together is the perfect place to leave some of Matt's ashes if you decide to leave. I like that thought.

    @Rose: Thank you!

    @Bev: Oh I feel for you knowing that your trees had been cut down without a care. After 35 years they must have been a beautiful sight. It is hard to forgive that sort of destruction, even if you have moved on. Starting anew in a new place still sounds like such a brave step to me, and I'm not sure I would have the strength to do it myself - even if it were honouring the plans we had made together - so I understand your sadness.

  5. megan01:43

    I bought the plum at a tree sale this spring - I had no intention of going, let alone buying anything. With matt gone, I had to be cajoled into even planting a garden. I certainly was not interested in trees. but the stanley plum trees called to me. Loudly. One specific tree in the stack of them. I brought it home, dug a good hole, added soil amendments, and watered and watered and watered, and talked to matt. And for two months, the tree did... nothing. bare sticks, no noticeable leaf buds. It seemed inordinately cruel to have a tree call out to me just to come home and have a peaceful place to die. Especially after I planted it thinking it would be a place for some of his ashes. And then, suddenly, it was full of leaves. Not every branch, but most. So glad it has sprung into life. More death, not so much.

  6. You can eat crab apples? Here I thought they were just ornamental.

    Your trees are beautiful...