Gallery: Winter in the Orchard at Quarry Bank

Last Friday I nipped along to our local National Trust property, Quarry Bank; a former cotton mill and landscaped gardens in north Cheshire. I was there to help the gardens team with a spot of winter pruning, which meant I was allowed access to the Apprentice House orchard, which has been closed to the public for most of the past year for Covid-safety reasons.

It’s a rather lovey orchard, one of my very favourites, with a collection of veteran trees that are a few decades old and are for the most part heritage varieties local to the Cheshire or Manchester areas, including a couple of superb ‘Withington Welter’ cooking apples that I helped to harvest fruit from last Autumn.

The trees in the kitchen garden were planted much more recently, save one or two. The oldest tree in that section is a ‘Royal Jubilee’ that is still throwing out new growth despite its trunk being almost hollow and a lean on it that has necessitated a stout prop to keep it from toppling.

It was a perfect day for a bit of gentle pruning (nothing too drastic, with the forecast frosts this week looming); not too cold and gloriously bright, with the winter sunshine streaming down through the bare branches. Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps (and scions, with the gardeners’ permission of course).

The Quarry Bank Apprentice House orchard in the winter sunshine
Apple ‘Royal Jubilee’ – a rather superb veteran specimen in the kitchen garden that refuses to give up the ghost.
This rather superb tree has been potentially identified as apple ‘Minshull Crab’
Apple ‘Withington Welter’ after its winter pruning to reduce congestion and allow more light into the canopy. (I know, I should have moved the carrier bag…)
Another view of the Quarry Bank Apprentice House orchard in the winter sunshine

Once the threat from Covid-19 has been brought under control and the place is fully open once again, you should definitely visit. When you do, please tell them I said “hello!”

The trees, I mean (obviously…)

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