Rosemary, the lady who lived here before us, took me around the garden a few weeks before we moved in.
I hoped to find out if there were any particularly special plants or trees. And I did, but not quite in the way I expected.
One of our first stops was the apple tree. She told me how her late husband had grown it from the seed of a Marks & Spencer apple 50 years ago. It was November, but there were still hundreds of apples on the ground. Rosemary loaded my arms with them and warned me that we should eat them soon; they tasted great, but weren’t keepers.
Last year – our first year here – it only produced a handful of fruit. I secretly wondered if the tree didn’t like us. Then Steve told me it had been a bad year for apples everywhere. Something about it having been too wet for the pollinators when the blossom was out. I don’t think he actually knew this, he must have heard it on Countryfile or read it in one of his gardening magazines. But it seemed more rational than my theory.
Anyway. This year, the branches are literally groaning with fruit. Most of them are way out of easy picking reach, but when it’s windy they come hammering down. They are quite wormy, but the dogs are having a field day playing with them and munching them up all round the house and garden.
This evening I resolved to pick a few before they fell. I thought the ones still on the tree might be a bit less wormy, and certainly less bruised, than the ones on the ground.
Have you seen those telescopic pickers you can buy? They have a sort of basket at the end of a long pole. I’ve always thought they look a bit ridiculous. But they don’t look anything like as ridiculous as the one I fashioned out of M’s pink fishing net, a hazel branch and some tape. Or as ridiculous as I looked waving it around trying to hook and pluck apples 15ft up in the air.
I did manage to land a few of the M&S apples. And some Bramleys from the tree behind the garage. Some them came down to earth gently in the net. Some of them just fell as I thrashed around and are no doubt bruised. Most of them are wormy.