No plums. The latest gale stripped them from the branches whilst they were still green. Exploratory blackbirds then ruined the fallen. The rains of late spring ruined the flowers of all but two of the apple trees. And so on…
Alas, none of that dampens my enthusiasm for planting yet more. The little walled garden still has a bald south facing internal wall. OK, it’s where we have a much used garden seat, pots of bulbs or veggies, a few canes of a smartypants bramble with semi-double flowers and delicious fruit. Oh, and a vast rhubarb. But the stonework that holds what heat the errant sun allows us does nothing. One of us wants it left as it is… But would it ripen an early grape like the early fruiting Madeline Angevine… Could I ever keep a greengage under sufficient control to give us fruit whilst still letting us use the seat? It gets pointed out that controlling the garden isn’t my strong point.
But apple cordons? No. In a decent season we are already overwhelmed by apples. So, pears? Well, there’s already a rather struggling Conference espalier on one of the outside walls, but pears are very obedient, so perhaps cordons pruned like a tuning fork, hieratic, on either side of the seat? A look of horror, and ‘But we’d have to destroy some of the 18th century flagstones.’ OK, these are quite probably in their original position (the kitchen garden walls were once those of a tiny cottage, and we’ve tried to leave as many others in situ, even though many were lost when the cottage was turned into a byre some time in the late 1800’s. But pear cordons would control themselves!
And the memory returns of the trees we once had in a previous garden – of Comice ripe on the branch and ready in time for tea. Of the others, labels long lost, some the yellow of chamois leather, whose perfume conquered us even before the first bite, of others so hard they would have brained Goliath but then, suddenly ripe a month later, had an hour or two of splendour, before turning into a woolly and flavourless mush. Anyway, in my mind’s eye the pickaxe glitters with evil, as my outer eye scans catalogues. I worry about what ones to grow, what dwarfing stocks they should have. Should I go for the ‘minarette’ trees offered by one firm, or drive down to the western borders, where one Scots nursery specialises in interesting fruit varieties. Oh dear. And then the storms will rage, the hungry birds will skulk, cankers and moulds will envelope… Who would garden? But then, just now a burst of September sunshine, and the garden is aglitter, gentians glow around the pool sundial, and I can’t think of anywhere more wonderful to be.