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Fantastic fruit with Malus and Pyrus11 October 2012
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
'T is a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea.
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet (As those who have tasted it say).
That good little children have only to eat.
Of that fruit to be happy next day. (Eugene Field)
I have never come across a Sugar Plum Tree but I have heard an equally magical and exciting idea that is being developed as we speak in the Beacon Hill area of Seattle, USA. The Food Forest is an innovative concept being rolled out in a public park which covers an area of about seven acres. Apparently this urban food oasis will be the first of its kind and will be planted with hundreds of different types of edibles from your common garden apples and pears to the more exotic guava and persimmons. And it doesn’t just stop at fruit trees – herbs, chestnuts, walnuts… who knows? It is like an Enid Blyton dream forest or a Eugene Field creation!
The food forest idea is rooted in the concept of permaculture, which means the forest will be self-sustaining and perennial just like any other forest. The fruits of this forest will be available to anyone and everyone who wishes to visit – what a fabulous thing to do, really going back to nature. Why should we be buying our fruit from the big supermarkets when it can be grown in public places for us all to enjoy? No doubt the creators of this forest will have to climb obstacles and jump hurdles as the idea develops and grows; and with human nature being the way it is, I am sure that there will be a small number of people out there that will try to exploit all this free produce. But I really hope that as it establishes and grows the benefits will far outweigh the negatives. Maybe it will mobilise other communities to do something similar with their communal areas?
For the time being the UK has yet to go down the Edible Park route but we can start small with our own gardens. Trees with edible fruits are a fantastic addition to a garden. If you haven’t yet planted a fruit tree in your garden then what are you waiting for? To help you out with the massive choice available we have chosen some lovely trees for you to consider. First on our list is the ‘Conference’ pear, or Pyrus ‘Conference’, which achieves a height of 3m at maturity or Pyrus ‘Concord’ which is slightly bigger, but another great tree for edible fruits straight from the tree. Among the apples, Malus ‘Discovery produces bright red, crisp juicy fruits that can be enjoyed staright from the tree whilst ‘King of the Pippins’ is a heavy cropping cooker. The staff at you local garden centre will be delighted to advise and now couldn’t be a better time to plant.
Seasonal highlights for October
This is nature’s time for final preparations. Highly visible, jays and squirrels are gathering acorns for their winter stores. Deciduous trees and shrubs are getting ready for their long sleep and the autumn colours which are part of this are one of the glories of the year.
In the garden there is plenty of scope for preparing for the coming months. It’s a great time for planting shrubs and trees, perhaps establishing a hedge. Spring bulbs can still be planted in anticipation of a wonderful show next year. This is an ideal time for digging over the soil in the vegetable garden or to establish new ornamental beds.
The long afternoons of October are a gift before harder times. Use them for walks in our parks and countryside or enjoy them with the family in the garden before going inside for well-earned tea and crumpets!
Plus - did you know...?
The reason why apples float in a bucket of water is because 25% of their volume is air.