Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Trained Ivy at Prieure D'OrsanSomehow after our summer holiday I just didn’t get to writing about Prieuré D’Orsan, but you may well have caught a glimpse of this gorgeous boutique hotel/garden (in Central France) on Monty’s visit for the BBC earlier this year.

This image just hasn’t left my head though, and I’ve been wondering if my wayward Solanum (scrambling up the back of the house) would take to being trained in a similar fashion. Probably not, probably a bit too loose and gangly (even if I could make it up the ladder to trim it). But I’d love to have a go at repeating the almost 2D simplicity of this heart-somewhere!Quince tree and chair at Prieure D'OrsanThere’s so much fantastic training and shaping going on at Prieuré D’Orsan. Nature has been constricted, controlled and cajoled, creating a myriad of desirable sculptural forms, whilst still providing an abundance of fruit. Quite remarkable, especially as this garden was a blank canvas only 20 years ago.

I thought I was getting a bit fancy with my attempt at training a quince tree into a fan shape, but this amazing specimen has been trained as a calming retreat over a woven chair. How bloomin’ delightful is that!

Quince chair at Prieure D'OrsanHere’s a side view, with more evidence of  fruit actually being produced, ready to be plucked after a nice shady sit-down.

Roses trained around small frame at Prieure D'OrsanVisiting later in the year meant that I didn’t get to see most of the roses in flower, but I did see plenty of ideas to take away with me.

Roses trained around large square frame at Prieure D'OrsanWhatever the structure, roses are twirled and twisted and this is certainly a way of training that I plan to experiment more with next year.

Ramblin rose 'Seagull' trained at Prieure D'OrsanThis ‘Seagull’ rose is a fairly rampant rambler, reaching up to 20ft high if left to its own devices,

Rambling rose 'Seagull' trained at Prieure D'Orsan

but curling and crossing stems should supply masses of flowers within this tightly contained framework. All very labour intensive, but what a labour of love (and devotion!). I was watching Carol Klein’s cottage garden episode on the Great British Garden Revival last night (you can catch up with it here), and I must admit to being a complete sucker for loose edges and flowing ebullient borders. Compared to such gentle cottagey planting,  there’s a severity to this garden (with more than a nod to its monastic past) that made me wander round in a respectful hush and a contemplative mood.

Playful supports for veg at Prieure D'Orsan

However, the supports and sculptural additions to the garden are bold and strangely playful and rather uplifting in their simple restraint.

Flower meadow at Priuere D'Orsan

Having said all that, there was a mini (well not that mini!) meadow tucked around the back behind the hotel, bringing in essential pollinators and a refreshing splash of colour.

Veg and flowers at Prieure D'OrsanThe veg patch was, not surprisingly, well-ordered and contained too,

Chunky veg beds at at Prieure D'Orsan

 and I couldn’t help admire the chunky beds and generous supports, packed full of glossy healthy veg.

Frames for roses at Prieure D'OrsanOn the way out, you can pick up your own beautifully crafted rose supports,

Trained apples and vines at Prieure D'Orsanand admire yet more trained fruit trees,vines

Bird box in trained vine at Prieure D'Orsanand even the odd invitation to nature. Prieuré D’Orsan-I’ll be back!

P.S. I couldn’t resist adding some of the gorgeous seats dotted around the garden too.

Chair woven arpound tree at Prieure D'Orsan

Chair 2 at Prieure D'Orsan

Chair 4 at Prieure D'Orsan

Chair unde apple tree at Prieure D'Orsan

Chair 1 at Prieure D'Orsan

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Fan trained quince tree at Chelsea Physic GardenI’ve just had a large ornamental cherry tree removed from my smallish back garden. I’ve been humming and hawing over this drastic surgery for a few years now, and although it has produced a lovely display of early white blossom every spring, it has also completely dominated the garden. Sapping moisture and nutrients from the soil, the tree has stopped most other plants from flourishing. So it had to go.

Now done, I’m absolutely delighted (if a bit in shock) that there’s so much more light and space. And this is where the quince tree comes in. I want to replace the ornamental cherry tree with another tree, something more productive, but a tree  that will provide some privacy without dominating the garden again.

Blosson on Quince at the Chelsea Physic Garden

In spring, I went to hear Joy Larkcom talk at the Chelsea Physic Garden, and was completely charmed by their fan trained quince tree (and Joy’s talk of course!). This tree completely fits the bill. The blossom in May was huge and enchanting and I was equally smitten by its large leaves. The supports here are approximately 3m wide and the tree at the moment is maintained to about the same height too.

On a recent trip to Wisley, the fantastically knowledgeable Jim Arbury recommended ‘Meeches Prolific’ as a variety that has some resistance to Quince leaf blight, and growing on Quince C rootstock (similar to the semi-dwarfing M26) should keep the tree relatively small. Keepers Nursery in Kent also recommend ‘Ekmek’ as its fruits are less gritty than ‘Meeches Prolific’, making it good for all types of cooking and baking. Now is the perfect time to order my tree, so I need to get out in the garden and get supports ready before it arrives in the new year. Very exciting!

Fan trained quince tree at Chelsea Physic Garden-back viewIt’ll be the first time I’ve ever trained a quince tree, but I’m excited by the challenge, and in years to come, it’ll be great to have these gorgeous fruits growing in our back garden.

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Japanese winberries in clustersWhat with the lower temperatures and rainy days, I definitely get the feeling that summer is well and truly over. And whilst I’m still happily picking my autumn raspberries and having the odd exciting find of a ‘Mara des bois’ strawberry, I feel a tad bereft that my Japanese wineberries are also finished for the year. Out of all the fruit that I’ve grown this summer, this tiny berry has been the most delicious of them all.

japanese Winberries and raspberries I have to admit that my berry growing repertoire isn’t that extensive (just strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and wild strawberries). I’ve never tasted (let alone grown) a tayberry or a goji berry, but each time I’ve nibbled a few of these intense sweetie-like berries, they’ve hit my taste buds like nothing else.

Compared to my strident  Polka raspberries, it takes a fair old while to fill a whole bowl, but to be honest, I prefer eating them straight from the cane, preferably after they’ve been warmed by the gentle rays of the sun for an hour or two. As they’re not great travellers ( their delicate petite form tends to crumble if you try to move them about once they’ve been picked), I can’t ever see these berries hitting the supermarkets, but that’s all the more reason in my book to have a go at growing your own.

Japanese wineberry at the allotmentEarlier this year, I tried a few different ways of training their pink stems, tying some along bamboo canes and twirling others around pieces of wire. All have produced copious amounts of berries, so I reckon that this fruit can be coaxed into a myriad of shapes and sizes and can be squeezed into the tightest of spaces if necessary.

If you fancy growing your own, now is the perfect time to order a bare-rooted plant for a November/ December delivery. Similarly to blackberries and summer raspberries, they fruit on canes produced the previous year, so it will be a couple of years before you get to taste these gems. However gardening is often about the long game, and in this case it certainly will be worth the wait.

P.S. I received an email asking about pruning Japanese wineberries. You can prune old canes  that your plant produced fruit on this year (about half of the canes) anytime from now until late winter. Here’s a post about pruning them. Be careful not to prune the new pink canes though, as these are the canes which will provide fruit for next year!

P.P.S Just spoken to a friend, Tanya, who’s a mighty fine cook and would love to have a go at growing some Japanese wineberries. I’ve since popped out into the garden and put the tip of one of the canes into a pot of soil and she will have a new plant of her own next spring/summer. It’s as easy as that. As soon as the cane touches the soil it will start making roots, a  bit like a giant strawberry runner. And the new plant should be fruiting in 2015!

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