It has been busy at Cressing and not just for the gardeners. Everywhere you look there are birds working frantically to collect nesting material, find enough food for hungry hatchlings or encourage them out into the big wide world.
Every year the apple blossom, at its point of perfection, is an amazing sight and all the more special because it is so fleeting. Well, right now is your chance to see this year’s show, as the Jubilee orchard is looking stunning. It really is worth a visit if you are passing and with cold weather forecast for the coming week it may not last long. Make sure you put the 22nd October in your diaries if you would like to see all that blossom transformed into apples of every colour and flavour at our Apple Day. In fact there is to be a whole weekend of celebration at Cressing on 21st and 22nd October with apples and other harvest available on both days, medieval entertainment and a Barn Dance in the great Barley Barn.
Another good place to head for some colourful blooms is the Cullen garden, where the tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) and tulips are fully out.
And who said vegetables aren’t beautiful? Here in the potager we have the Orach (Atriplex hortensis var. rubra) and Kale in flower looking good enough for any flower border.
And any guesses for this architectural vegetable?
You are never too young to start gardening and we were delighted to have our youngest ever volunteer helping us this week, and what a confident gardener she is too! After planting some chives in the culinary beds she weeded out all the surplus red orach seedlings, of which there is always a forest. Colour co-ordination in the borders too!
My star plant for this week is the crab apple (Malus sylvestris) which was looking fabulous in the sacred border.
This is our native apple which was well known in the wild all over Britain and also cultivated in gardens for its valuable sourness in cooking – the ideal complement to sweet spices in sweet and sour cooking, a medieval favourite. Crabs are small, hard fruit and would have been pickled or made into verjuice (the medieval equivalent to lemon juice). They were also eaten raw to ‘open the stomach’ before a meal, and roasted with sugar, fennel and caraway seeds, to keep it ‘open’ afterwards. Ten raw apples a day helped to keep monastic stomachs ‘open’ during Lent. I wouldn’t recommend it!