Did you know that apples float because they are 25% air? Or that in Ancient Greece tossing an apple to a girl was a proposal of marriage and catching it was a response of ‘yes’?
Many such myths and stories about apples exist. In Ancient Rome, Pomona was the Goddess of fruit trees, especially of apple trees, and was also known as the “Apple Mother”.
In more modern times it’s said that if you want to ensure true happiness in your relationship, you should cut an apple in half and share it with your loved one. A great reason if ever there was one to eat an apple.
However, there are far more varieties of apple than you ever see in the supermarket. Here at Helmsley Walled Garden we have over a hundred apple trees and 92 named varieties.
Many have wonderful names such as Dogsnout, Catshead, Flower of the Town, Khoroshavka Alaya and Bloody Ploughman; so named because the ploughman was shot for stealing apples. The bag of apples he’d collected were given to his widow. It’s said that in disgust she threw them on to the rubbish heap and the first tree sprouted from there. If you cut a Bloody Ploughman open the flesh inside is streaked with red.
We’ve chosen to train some of our trees in traditional fan shapes against the Garden walls. When this was the Kitchen Garden for Duncombe Park the walls would have been similarly clothed.
Helmsley Walled Garden isn’t a faithful reproduction of a Victorian kitchen garden but we like to keep some of the old traditions going. It shows how the old gardeners used every bit of productive space, gardening up the walls as well as along them. They even used some of the space outside the walls. On the outside of the north wall was a pineapple pit in which was grown this very expensive fruit. It was the aristocratic version of keeping up with the Joneses to be able to offer pineapple to your dinner guests.
We have an apple orchard as well as espaliers, cordons and step overs as we want to be able to show visitors all the ways in which apple trees can be trained, some of which take up very little room. So unless you have only a balcony most of us can fit an apple or two in our gardens.
If you are thinking about maybe getting an apple tree you could do no better than to come to our Amazing Apples Day on Saturday October 21st. We will have workshops on training and pruning along with apple juice tasting. Our good friends from R V Roger Nurseries will be on hand to give advice on the best tree for your garden. We will have an apple-themed trail and apple bobbing for children and there will be apple dishes in The Vine House Café. So do come and share in our celebration of amazing apples and enjoy this wonderful fruit.
Tricia Harris October 2017