Friday, 4 July 2014

One for sorrow, two for joy

But when I opened the curtains there was not just one, nor two, but no fewer than three magpies gorging themselves on almost ripe cherries for their breakfast.  It's getting on for forty years since I planted that cherry tree in a bit of very rough ground behind the garage, having removed one of the two pear trees that were there when we bought the house.  (There was a third pear tree, along with two apple trees, further down the garden.)  Planting a cherry might have been in response to a subconscious yearning to return to my childhood.  Although born and brought up in the town, we lived close to the orchards of Kent, in particular the cherry orchards.  Even now, more than fifty years - in fact, it's nearer to sixty than fifty years - since my parents moved from the Garden of England to Silly Sussex I can still remember those cherry orchards.

There was one walk I especially remember, and I know my brother does as well.  I suppose I must have been about seven or eight at the time.  We - my mother, my brother and I - caught the bus to Rainham, just a handful of miles along the Top Road, as we called the A2, or Watling Street as it was officially known from Roman times.  There was a footpath that led up beside Rainham church, behind which was a cherry orchard.  The time I recall us walking that path was in the spring.  The cherry orchard was in full bloom and the sheep in the orchard had young lambs which my brother and I attempted to feed with handfuls of grass.

Borrowed image - copywrite owner not known.

Anyway, in the near forty years since I planted that tree, we have enjoyed the display of blossom each spring - but have not managed to eat a single cherry for many years.  The tree still bears fruit, but the birds get it before we do.  It always used to be the starlings that ate the cherries but we seem to have very few starlings about nowadays; in fact, it's weeks if not months since I last saw one in the garden.  We have a bit of a struggle with the pears as well as the cherries, although here we are usually much more successful in gathering a harvest.  But it's jackdaws that like pears.  They peck at the fruit before it's ripe.  I always hope they end up with stomach ache, which is perhaps rather unkind of me.

But I have made a decision to give up any attempt to grow vegetables.  I did try again this year, although I sowed only peas and runner beans.  The peas failed to germinate - both lots - and the beans just withered.  Still, I did pick the first raspberries the other day.  As they are supposed to be autumn-fruiting it was just a little early - unless we are due to go without summer this year and the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is already upon us.  The blackcurrants are ripening well and I have picked quite a few - although it is more a matter of plucking currants rather than picking them.  It's too early yet for the gooseberries but there seem to be a goodly number on the bush which I can just see under its shroud of weeds.  One of these days I will get down there and clear them!


Sarah said...

Oh, that takes me right back to my childhood BP although the orchards in south Devon were apples rather than cherries.

I'm growing some runner beans in my garden this year, only 4 plants as my garden is tiny. I've also got tomatoes.

There are gooseberries at the farm and fruit trees. Our main problem is wasps on the plum tree, we send SD up it and he throws the fruit to us, half the time we are running away from the wasps!

Brighton Pensioner said...

Yes, we had apple orchards as well - and hop fields!