Season of mists and so on...

Season of mists and so on...

Thursday, 24 March 2011


I know that I said my next post would include all sorts of detail about the varieties of tree I have planted and all that useful, informative stuff, but oh my word what wonderful, glorious weather we are having and I am just too excited about all the growing...

And I've just been talking to a friend who is being given a horrid time at the moment, by some neighbours, when all she wants to do is to live a good, simple life with her daughters and a few chickens. Something about life today is making many of us so sick. We are like overcrowded chickens pecking at each other and building fortresses where we should be building bridges. People are reacting against it and there is this huge fashion built around a desire to get back to some other time and set of values.  I don't know when that time was or that it was better, but the need is definately there for something better. It makes me appreciate the opportunity I have here...

My trees are all budding nicely, I still get all tingly when I look out of the window and see my little orchard, like ballerinas limbering up in the rosy morning sunlight.

Half of the strawberries - 'Cambridge Favourite' are growing strongly and purposefully and promise many stained red tongues; and half - 'Sophie' look rather anxious and sickly. I'm not sure they have adjusted to life on a Peak District hillside too well - perhaps they didn't bring their wellies. Not sure if it is the plant stock or something I am doing wrong but I am going to heap on some lovely horse muck today to see if that helps!

Ten lovely lavenders have arrived and my four year old has promised to plant them for me this weekend!

And best of all I have ordered three new chickens - one Fenton Rose and two Fenton Blue. They are so pretty and unusual and they should give us blue eggs. I got them from a lovely lady called Janette at and she is holding on to them for me until we think they are big enough to join my other girls.

It's amazing how a few seed ideas in my head a few months ago are now real and growing in the ground...

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Signs of Spring

My orchard is planted!

I worked in the winter rain digging new homes for sleeping roots; gently pressing soil around smooth bark and rough hewn tree stakes; cold wet hands tying strips torn from my son's old shirt.

I have two cherries, two plum, two pears and five apples. I have three different hazels (filberts) and just to keep them company I have strawberries, raspberries and even a blueberry in a pot.

And they are waking up - all of them. They have toughened out everything that a Peak District winter could throw at them - snow, gales, minus nineteen degrees and all of them are beginning to show signs of spring. I'm relieved and excited. Soon there should be tiny fresh green leaves and maybe even blossom!

Today my gorgeous friend gave me some white crocus bulbs to plant around my trees. How lovely!

Now my blog has renewed purpose and I'll grow it along with my fruit. I will keep it up to date from here with how the fruit trees are getting on and the other work I have planned for the orchard, along with fruit recipes - successes and failures. I can hardly wait to see what emerges. In the next post I'll give a bit more detail on the species of trees I have chosen and why and where I got them from.

For now my trees have all survived and I'm a happy nearly spring bunny!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

and so it starts - with my mum's jam pan and a blog... or should I say without my mum's jam pan...

and I am going to plant an orchard. It's not too much of a leap of consciousness if you know how my brain works. I am planning an orchard at the back of our cottage (we have one apple tree and some rather overgrown blackcurrants at the moment). I have researched it - the varieties, the planting requirements, rootstock, care etc. I know that 400m up on an exposed site in the Peak District is not ideal, but it's what I have to work with for my orchard, with fruit trees and nuts and soft fruit and lavender (to keep the wasps busy).
Dear Mum

Whatever happened to your jam pans?

How many times did I stand bewitched, hopping from foot to foot with blackberry stains still on my fingers, as you stirred and watched dark boiling broths of fruit?

Why is it that small children are always so desperate to have a stir that they almost pop with anticipation? Then, happy that they have 'helped', they run off to play and proudly claim to siblings that they made the jam, tea, cake or other offerings. Mine are the same. I know now that you probably would have prefered to be left to concentrate, but thank goodness the intoxicating smell and promise of sweetness held me there, for otherwise how would I know what to do?

I remember the copper pan best, loved the colour and the sharp metallic smell. It used to sit by the fire place when not in use and glow.

I don't know where they went. Possibly in that skip. My sister didn't know either. So I have bought one! I couldn't stretch to copper and needed stainless steel for the rayburn so my choice was made for me and although it doesn't mean quite as much as yours would have I love it already. Is that strange? Probably. It has the feel of something ancient and ritualistic but it is bright and shiny with possibilities.

First stop apple and blackberry seedless, wish me luck

 and I've made apple and blackberry seedless jam - three dark claret coloured pots of promise in the cupboard. My first ever jam as a grown up. It is too sweet and set too solid, but I don't mind.

and I have started a blog, my first ever blog, to share my progress- planting, growing, making, problems, successes, recipies and my memories too. A  new fruit growers trip from memory to future.

It all starts here.


I have bought a jam pan...