We are gradually restoring a very overgrown garden in Dorset. Part of the work has involved uncovering old walls that were smothered in rampant ivy, in places to a depth of nearly 2 feet; and the beds hidden underneath. This was followed by some approximate repointing ‘à la rustique’. The next stage was to remove the ‘dead’ soil and replace it with fresh topsoil mixed with compost; then to begin the planting. Here is part of the project, in May, showing a new espalier Cox apple tree on the south-facing side of the wall. The wire compound is to keep rabbits out – mostly successfully. The COX’S ORANGE PIPPIN, a classic eating apple, was first grown in 1826 as a hybrid of the Ribstone Pippin. This variety is small, crisp and juicy, with a slightly sharp tang. Completely delicious, in fact.
The tree luckily took to its situation and in due course began to produce some promising-looking fruit. Cox’s ripen in October, and should only be picked if the pips rattle when the fruit is shaken. We were amazed to have grown two dozen apples (there were also a couple of outliers that had been eaten, apparently by ants). A few on the lower branches are still not ready to pick – they were rather shaded by plants that grew during the summer. Some we have eaten straight off the tree. Here are a few that we harvested a couple of days ago.