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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Loquats ripening on the tree-2In November, I was bowled over by the most delicious scent from the blossom on my loquat (Eriobotyra japonica) tree. And now, as I gaze out of my back door, I’m further delighted by the sight of so much ripe fruit. Did I just not notice this fruit before or is it a combination of a hot summer, followed by a very mild winter that has supplied such an abundant crop?

Never having eaten one of my loquats, I wasn’t sure how to tell if it was ripe or not. The fruit felt softish though, so I gave it a go. Loquats are about the same size as an apricot, but the flesh is more watery, more akin to a pear. The less ripe fruits are quite tangy and sharp, a bit like a grapefruit (in taste but not in texture), and they’re sweeter the riper they get. I am wondering though if our summers here would ever be hot enough for a whole tree of very ripe fruit. It’s an interesting (if not compelling) taste, very juicy, and I’ll continue to nibble a few more fruits to see if they get any sweeter still.

Loquat and almond cakeIn the meantime though, friend Catherine has found another, rather more splendid way to eat them. She recently noticed a very promising  apricot and almond upside-down cake on Diana Henry’s website (such luck!) and has made it her own using some of the remaining loquats (and soft brown sugar instead of caster sugar). What a bloomin’ treat! Slices just melt in your mouth and the slightly tangy taste of the loquats contrasts beautifully with the honey in the recipe, making it difficult not to polish the whole lot off in one sitting. Hurrah for Catherine being on hand to whip up such a fantastic dessert, and I’m now trawling Diana Henry’s website for more sumptuous recipes.

P.s. Previous post about delicious scent of loquat blossom.

 

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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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