In the garden news
The next few months are critical; as it is the only time we can go faster than nature. Our tender plants in the flower garden need to be lifted and stored safely through the winter. Some of our ‘Salvias’, which are used to growing in the climate of Brazil are cut back and potted up to be kept in the green house until spring. Our ‘Dahlias’, which will die down to a tuber but can rot in the cold and wet of winter are stored in crates of dry compost in a frost-free shed. The space this opens up gives us the opportunity to get plants in for next spring.
Hesperus, the sweet rocket, which we started from seed last June is now ready to plant and should be strong enough to give us wonderful mauve clouds of bloom by May. Also, forget-me-nots are so useful in these spaces as their sky blue mist will be priceless with the tulips we are about to start planting. 6000 bulbs is quite a lot of work to plant but it is worth it for the fun they give in the spring.
As well as planning for next spring there is plenty of work for the present. We have many crops to harvest for the kitchens, and one of our biggest tasks has been the completion of our apple harvest. We grow over 30 varieties, which we have been trying out over the last 10 years; each one has its own specific use and quality. The season starts in August with varieties such as ‘Discovery’, ‘Sun Rise’ and ‘Golden Hills’. The first ripe fruits are always a treat fresh from the tree in late summer. But the best fruit always comes at the end of the season. The bulk of our crop tends to be ready around mid-October and is blended to make juice. ‘Brambly’, ‘Falstaff’, ‘Egremont Russet’ and ‘Howgate Wonder’, has proved to be a beautiful mix, with a balance of sweetness and acidity along with notes of nuttiness and spice. It always makes me smile to see it being enjoyed for breakfast; just a few minutes’ walk from the orchard that produced it.
Although most of our fruit is made into juice we always hold a few crates of fruit back for chef to work his magic with. This year he has made the most beautiful desert; with sage, cider jelly, crème fraiche sorbet and a ginger crumb (pictured below). I like to think that the finishing touch to this lovely dish is the wonderful, sharp, pink-fleshed apple we have grown called ‘Grenadine’, which is as delicious as it is beautiful.