Good Gardening with Mark Curtis: October 2019

01/10/19 News

Poet William Blake spoke of the season ‘laden with fruit’ when he wrote his poem ‘To Autumn’ in 1783, conjuring up the lush abundance of autumn's fare. 
Berries and fruit provide a good autumn showstopping embellishment for the garden and are an important food source for our garden visitors – blackbirds, thrushes, redwings and fieldfares as well as the ubiquitous pigeon or two. 
Apples are probably the most popular to grow and with modern dwarfing rootstocks (look out for M27) can be grown on your apartment balcony or home patio. For a more compact tree to grow in the garden, look out for semi dwarfing rootstock VVA-1. A self-fertile variety such as Cox Orange Pippin with its creamy flesh, both juicy and crisp or the very popular variety Scrumptious, a bright red, which is a winner with children, and very tasty.
Scrumptious hold its apples well on the tree, but with others you are likely to get windfalls. We always make a blackberry and apple  pie or apple and cinnamon cake with ours – if you haven't got a hedgerow nearby, then some thornless blackberries are ideal for the pie. No need for little fingers to get prickled either -Blackberry ‘Oregon Thornless' with its big juicy fruits in early September. Not from America, as you may have thought, but an old English variety discovered in leafy Surrey in 1770 – it has an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS to its credit. Variety ‘Merton Thornless' is compact with shorter canes, perhaps more suitable for the smaller garden. 
It has been a bumper year for Blueberries this year too – again these are ideal in pots and for smaller spaces- they have to have an acid compost (ericaceous) and are best grown in pairs to help cross-pollination. Varietes Jersey, Goldtraube and Bluecrop are all dependable varieties, giving you fresh blueberries for your breakfast and spring flowers for the bees – perfect!

Mark Curtis
Plant Manager, Tates of Sussex

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