The Garden

(Last edited on Sunday 7th January 2007)

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 passable condition. I've planned the garden to be informal and fairly low maintenance. Near the house in the back garden is a lawn surrounded by flowering shrubs underplanted with bulbs, while the bottom half of the garden is mainly devoted to growing fruit, especially redcurrants, gooseberries, worcesterberries and apples.

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 I now have about thirteen varieties of apple, mostly on family trees.

The full list is: Beauty of Bath, Reinette Rouge Étoilé, Ribston Pippin, Ellison's Orange, Lord Lambourne, Margil, Keswick Codling, Cox's Orange Pippin, Wyken Pippin, 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, 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. So far it hasn't produced fruit, and it was only in its ninth Spring (2005) that it flowered for the first time, so I've had no chance to seek inspiration by concussion. Would it inspire me only with Newtonian Gravitation, or might the descending apple give some insight into relativity too?

The earliest apples, Beaty 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".