I visited the National Gardening Show last Friday. I had not been there before and my diet so far has been rich RHS fare such as Chelsea so I did slightly wonder what I was going to. It was fun though – lots of obscenely vast and occasionally visceral-looking vegetables, stonking dahlias, some good nurseries and generally all the fun of the country show. I also came across a plant new to me called “Good King Henry” twice on the same day. When that happens you just have to try it.
At risk of being a plant bore, I drove back up the A303 spotting apple trees in full fruit in the hedgerows. I quite like the A303, mostly because it goes past Stonehenge and you can also play ‘spot the long-barrow’, but this time I was trying to remember the tune to that late-90’s song by Kula Shaker which goes on about driving down the A303. I read in Smash Hits or something at the time that it was all about running away to Glastonbury, man. Two thoughts; 1) Did they not realise that running away to Glastonbury has kind of been done to death? 2) This probably dates me horribly.
But to continue the appley theme, I have not provided much in the way of sensible gardening advice lately so here you go: Pick apples and pears when they come away with half a twist when cupped in the hand. Pears will finish ripening off the tree, which means that you have a fighting chance of getting to them before the birds do. Store perfect fruit (but early apples don’t keep awfully well), checking regularly. Turn damaged ones into jam or chutney. More of that anon. And put fruit affected by brown rot into the bin, rather than the compost to try and contain some of the spores. Am I alone in finding this picture curiously appealing?
Apple with Brown Rot
With the start of a new term I am back to my old habits. I am not a reformed character; I like my coffee strong and often. My epitaph will read ‘100% Columbian please’ and we are not referencing Fun Lovin’ Criminals albums here. Another worrying observation while buying school uniform: apparently I am the size (well, height) of the average 21st Century 13 year old, should one be planning an ill-conceived ACDC revival party or something.
In print: in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life, I can be seen enthusing about the new rose garden at the Savill Garden and I seem to have written a hefty portion of Period House this month too, which is jolly. Oh, and last weekend I could be heard discussing chutney and plum pruning with Debbie McGee on BBC Radio Berkshire. Now that’s magic.
I am a journalist, author and photographer, working primarily in the world of gardening and lifestyle. I also have a bit of a thing for science communication and prehistory.
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