Fruit Avenue was begun a couple of years ago with the bulbous border end closest to the house and drawing back in a long line to half way down the garden, sixteen metres away. It has since been planted up with many fruit trees, shrubs and plants, as well as Clematis, of course. Fruiting plants take some time to get established and it’s only this year that we’ve begun enjoying reasonable quantities of fruit, still very little from the trees but the shrubs and plants are getting into gear.
We start with the formidable tower of prickles and ruby red jewels that is the Japanese Wineberry. Small red fruits burst with a tangy flavour and crunch with tiny seed. Picking this is not easy given the dense prickles along the stem. The fruits appear suddenly in waves and each picking can yield a large handful of these berries. Thankfully the birds haven’t noticed them yet, perhaps they’re just a little too exotic to be noticed or the plant’s armoury is too much to deal with.
Blueberries slowly ripening
We next have the blueberries, which ripened over a long period so repeated visits to predate on the bush were required. The blueberry bushes are growing very slowly but at least they are fruiting a little. I think the soil is simply not acidic enough as Blueberries need tremendously acidic soil. It’s really enjoyable to walk past, peer over to see whether there are any berries ready and pick and pop them into your mouth.
The blackberry had made a bid for world domination and has grown into a monster. Throwing up canes several meters long, it took an entire evening with wire and twine to tame this beast. The fruits are later in developing and the first berries are only just ripening now. The plant is dripping with berries in great trusses of fruit. I just hope that there will be some left for us as all this bounty is barely a metre from the large beech hedge in which birds nest.
The six fruit trees (three plum and three cherry) have grown significantly this year and tower way overhead, much taller than the root stock they’re grafted onto should allow. I will have to do some “proper” fruit tree pruning, but I am scared as I don’t know how and am afraid I will set the trees back and delay the fruit production by another couple of years. We have had two of the three trees produce fruits and this one is the plum, “Opal”. The fruits are small but perfectly formed and very “plum” tasting. Unfortunately, most of the fruit has been nibbled at by something (probably wasps), but we’ve been fine with simply cutting those parts out and eating the rest.
Other fruits we have are the mass of raspberry canes and these have suckered like mad this year. They have also been producing some fruit and we’ve been able to go along the row of raspberries, picking the juicy ripe ones. I wish the canes had focussed more on fruit production than suckering. I will have to keep the suckers under control as they are so dense they form the “understorey’ to the fruit trees and little else other than weak weeds grow underneath.
We also have rhubarb and it has gone crazy in the wet weather. Thick stems and huge leaves grow from multiple points on each crown. The wind has meant more stems have snapped and gone bad than we have been able to use. We have enjoyed rhubarb compote with ice-cream though as well as the obligatory crumble.
Gooseberries have also been reasonably productive and the sawfly has been under control. The fat juicy green berries are not to my taste though, they’re saved for my partner who likes to dive in an hunt for the ones ready to be picked, avoiding the thorns where possible.
Finally we have the nine currant bushes, these have not fruited this year but I am hoping they now are large and mature enough to flower and fruit next year. These nine shrubs are around head-height and form a continuous block facing the hedge. The grass walkway is hemmed in between the beech and currant and becomes narrower and narrower as the summer continues. These currant shrubs were grown from suckers lifted from my parents’ garden and are the spiritual successor to the ornamental flowering currant that we had in our previous garden.
With the focus this year being on clearing the back of the garden, the rest, including Fruit Avenue, has had little attention and has been growing away unsupervised. My aim for Fruit Avenue is to be able to walk along it, picking tempting ripe fruits and berries that are peeking out from under the leaves. This has certainly been the case this year, picking the raspberries, blueberries, wineberries, hunting for plums and gooseberries and cropping the rhubarb and figs. I don’t know whether I’m going to get more competition from the birds or my partner but with sixteen metres of fruit comprising six trees, fifteen shrubs, countless canes, three crowns and three climbers, there should be plenty to go around when Fruit Avenue comes into full production in the following years.
All I need to make sure of is that I stock up on the toilet roll.