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).
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…)