Tuesday, 28 April 2015

My fledgling orchard

This is at the back of the house. The big tree is an old French golden delicious tree. When we bought the place it was overgrown and laced with brambles. It took a couple of years of pruning which was nerve racking for a townie. I looked up what to do! Last year it fruited well and by the amount of blossom on it will do so again this year. Very close to it is a pear tree just coming into blossom. I have planted two plums, Gala apple, four different pears, Bramley apple and quince. Along with the strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants it keeps us in jam and bottled fruit until the next harvest. I also have a big old Damson tree that gives me loads of jam. At the front of the house is a large Elder so I make Elder flower cordial. Along with the rosehip syrup I make this gives us all the soft drinks we need.
All our neighbours are dairy farmers one of whom we are very friendly with. We buy our wood and straw from him. I plan, at some stage to ask to buy milk direct from him. I would like to make some cheese. This will have to wait until my kitchen is finished though so is one for the future.
When this was a fully working farm, the family planted a variety of apple trees and made Calvados. When we bought this place they gave us a bottle of the Calvados that had been made here. Once a year the remaining family turn up to see what we have done. Last summer the old girl, who had come here as a young bride, visited to see our Gite. She remembered milking cows in the barn that is now our Gite and loved what we had done. Since the family sold the farm there were two other owners before us but nothing was done to improve things. She was so happy to see the place being cared for. She died shortly after that last visit and I think she had wanted to say goodbye to the place she had loved. Relatives came from all over France and came here to see the place once more. There were cousins who had stayed over summers. It was obviously a happy place despite the sad times, not least of all two world wars. We are still in touch with family who live locally and they will no doubt appear again in the summer.
There are times when I really struggle with living here. I try to think of the family who built this and how hard it was for them. It helps keep things in perspective.


  1. That tree looks one healthy tree Aly so your pruning must have been just right. We had a damson tree when I was a child and it always seemed to produce masses of damsons. My mother used to make damson jam, we used to have stewed damsons with cream, damson pies - the downside is the awful number of stones - impossible to get them all out when you are making the jam, however hard you try.
    I must say it looks (and sounds) idyllic where you live. But I suppose that like everywhere else there will be down sides. I am really enjoying your posts.

  2. It is a beautiful place to live. We are totally on our own! Pleased to hear you like my blog, never done anything like this before.
    Well light is going so must away to put chickens, ducks and geese to bed!

  3. We hard pruned an old damson tree the winter before last, so didn't really get anything off it last year, however this year it's looking promising, the blossom has been beautiful. Fingers crossed

  4. Brilliant when it works but scary for a novice. I have invested in a copy of growing fruit and veg for dummies!

  5. Oh, how I'd love to have chickens, but here laws are so strict. Even though I have 1.25 acres, I don't have 'enough land' to have chickens 'kept 100 feet from every property line'. I'll have to enjoy poultry vicariously through lovely blogs like yours. :-D

  6. Where are you Kris? In my part of France even town dwellers have a few hens, and a veg patch

    1. I'm in NE Ohio USA. I delight in reading UK & Europe blogs: veg, berry patches, hens, etc. *sigh* Love the gardens and the allotments. Your pics are wonderful!

  7. I'm enjoying reading your posts. A couple of times you have mentioned being unhappy - was it the "rural" or the "France" bit that caused you problems? If it's too personal then I apologise.

  8. Getting used to to the different culture is the hard bit. Will give more info in todays blog