Archive for the ‘Apples’ 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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I must have known somewhere at the back of my mind that the RHS had sold off one of their two halls in London, and because of this, I have to admit to being a tad underwhelmed with their latest show in Victoria. Having marvelled at the size of the competition leeks, and gazed at perfectly formed raspberries, there were only a few stalls left to visit.

One of these was the wonderful Sea Spring Seeds, who did offer a marvellous display of Chillis with seeds to match, and I did buy a couple of garlic cloves from the Garlic Farm stall, so all was not lost. But I’d have been a bit miffed if I’d travelled for hours to arrive at this lightly populated show.

However, there was an apple tasting stand, packed full of apples from RHS Wisley, and this was the unexpected gem of the show for me. With the help of a very friendly RHS gardening team, I tasted a few of the most delicious apples I’ve ever come across.

Lord Lambourne, a variety dating back to 1907, had it all. Crispish texture, but with the sweetest of flavours and a beautiful warm russet-red, fading-into-yellow colouring, and a wonderfully fresh aroma (plus it’s a good storer).  I brought a few varieties of apples back for a client to taste, and we’re now planning on planting a few Lord Lambourne apple trees as cordons, which will look very decorative in her front garden. This variety, although never seen in the supermarkets, was easy to buy and I’ve plumped for an M26 semi-dwarfing rootstock which should keep the cordon small-ish, but have enough vigour to produce plenty of fruit.

Another supremely sweet apple was ‘Sharon’. However, this is predominantly an American cultivar, so not readily available in the UK. I did discuss with Rebecca Bevan (Fruit manager at RHS Wisley) the possibility of grafting a ‘Sharon’ from RHS stocks, and also started discussing the possibility of apple tree grafting courses at the RHS and creating ‘family’ trees with more than one variety on the same tree. Could I graft a Lord Lambourne, a Sharon,

and a Limelight (another favourite) onto the same tree? Intriguing, and something I’ll have to explore further.

I’m also wondering how a Lord Lambourne would fair trained as a Quincunx and where in the garden could I grow it!

So despite my initial disappointment, the show was an eye opener for me in terms of apples, but I’ll be more vigilant from now on as to the listings of the shows. Next week is the RHS London Shades of Autumn Show, with a big caption under the first image warning that it’ll be held in only one hall. However, offering 20 specialist nurseries this time round, I’ll be tempted once again to make the journey to Victoria.

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This is the second time that I’ve visited Lucy Mackenzie’s Lip na Cloiche garden and nursery on Mull. I was originally wowed by this hillside haven and its phenomenal planting about a year ago, but since then, the island has been battered by the worst storms in 30 years, with salt-laden winds hitting the land at over 120 miles an hour.

Salt and wind burn are easily in evidence on some of the plants. However, ceaseless rain since last August, unlike our drought in the South, has also done for a fair amount of perennials too.

After a brief sunny spell, the rain was back in force on the day we visited, but had its compensations as it looked rather gorgeous captured on the hairy leaves of this Meconopsis.

Despite, or maybe because of some gaps left in the planting, there are some great sculptural developments in the garden. I love the fork heads climbing their way up the slope amongst the ‘London Pride’ (Saxifraga x urbium),

and the teapots filled with various bulbs are a fabulous quirky delight. Along with the stunning planting, Lucy Mackenzie’s outsider art credentials seem even stronger than before.

Found objects have been artfully recycled throughout the garden,

and beachcombed treasures displayed with panache.

Spade heads echo the fork head pilgrimage ,

and teapots are reprised as planters at other points in the garden.

Bedsteads define the border at the top of the garden at Lip na Cloiche,

whilst willow has been woven to mask off the compost area half way down.

There’s so much artistry to feast your eyes on, from Fritillarias in colanders,

to trees in trunks and much, much more,

that I know I’ll be drawn back to visit this spectacular garden again and again.


Prompted by a comment by Jono at Real Men Sow (a fantastic veg growing blog), adding a couple of pics of Lucy’s gorgeously chunky raised vegetable beds. They’re tucked in, in front of the greenhouse area,

and nice and deep, allowing for plenty of veg planting choices. There are also some trained fruit trees and raspberry canes on the other side of the hedge, heading towards the shoreline. Heaven!

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