Tuesday 5 May 2015

Apple blossom in Cider Country ...

This 'ere be Cider Country ... and I be a Cider Drinker ...

Yes, that's right, I'm channelling my inner Wurzel!

There are few things in God's good earth that are more beautiful to a cider-drinker's eyes than the apple blossom in May. And this year, I am happy to report that the apple trees are looking especially marvellous. I know that this doesn't guarantee a bumper crop, but, hey, it's a start.

Want to take a look around the orchard? Come on, I'll give you the grand tour:

The lovely deep red above is of the old Bramley tree. It's the oldest tree in the orchard, and it produces wheel-barrow loads of wonderful big fat cooking apples, which keep us well stocked with apple pies all the way through to the New Year.

We don't have any cider apples. In fact it's a bit of a stretch to say that we have an orchard. We've got 14 trees growing on a steep south facing bank that wasn't much use for anything else. The drainage is good. There's loads of sunshine. In many ways it's the perfect place for apple trees. The only issue is with the gradient of the slope, which can make it a bit tricky to harvest the crop and also to keep the grass and bracken trimmed underneath the trees. Let's just say it would be a dangerous place to topple over with a power tool.

The apple trees are all heritage breeds that originate in the West Country. We figured that they'd probably grow better than something exotic that had been imported from outside. The strategy has worked well: none of the trees have died, and most years they produce a reasonable number of apples.

And during a sunny interlude yesterday morning we went for a stroll to see how they were all getting along.

On the way we passed a bluebell glade, which is a precious little spot where the fairies really ought to hang out if they've got any sense.

Or, to put it another way - and at the risk of sounding deeply creepy - if I were to go on a fairy hunt, this is where I'd lurk to watch out for them.

After the bluebell glade there's a rather glorious bank of primroses. Now this poses a dilemma for me, because if I had to chose a favourite as between the primroses and the bluebells I really wouldn't know which way I'd jump. Which one would you plump for?

And the great thing is that all these wonderful flowers grow every year without anyone doing anything to help them. They faithfully appear to delight us with their fragile beauty, and then they disappear into the grass for another year. To my way of thinking they're a bit of a miracle.

We've also got a load of primrose cultivars that have gone a bit native ... but still look amazing.

And at the end of our valley, sheltered by the shoulder of the hill above, there's a little grove of wild cherry trees.

On the way back we took the path up over the hill on which the apple trees grow. It winds through more woodland. Yesterday morning the sun shone down through the fresh green of the new leaf canopy onto the rich, red soil.

It was magical place with that dappled light, the fresh green of the leaves and the rich ochre of the earth. We looked down over the top of the apple trees into the valley below.

Of course, at this time of the year it's easy to get distracted by the bluebells growing beneath the great trees on the upper reaches of the hill above.

And then, we had to stop by and say hello to the chooks. This is Emi's favourite part. He loves watching the chooks, and I have to say they're just about the quirkiest bunch of mavericks that I've ever met.

They have a leader. He's called Walter, and he's always the first to greet you when you go in their pen. The truth is that there are far too many boys. A proper chicken farmer would have sorted things out so that they only kept the egg-laying ladies, but as no one had the stomach to consign Walter and his mates to the cooking pot, they're all living out their days in the sunshine. Occasionally, when they can be bothered, one of the ladies summonses the strength to lay an egg or two.

Just past the chooks we have a lovely flowering cherry tree. It was split in half during a winter storm a couple of years ago, and we worried about losing it completely. Happily it survived. 

Down in the low meadow we spotted this little family taking to the water. Dad's up front shepherding his babies into the pond.

Meanwhile in the top field these guys were having a pretty easy morning of it, just hanging out, chewing their cud and watching the world go by. 

Some folk were working.

And some folk were just kicking back and admiring the apple blossom.

All the best for now,

Bonny x


  1. Wonderful series - so glad you stopped by to share!

  2. Now this was a fun tour...and I enjoyed the views.

  3. I really enjoyed the tour of your beautiful orchard! :) The apple blossoms are really pretty, and so are the bluebells and the primroses. Love the spring babies too. :))