Cherries, I have to confess, are one of my favourite things. Unnaturally red ones on cocktail sticks in drinks, sticky glace ones that go into cakes and luscious fresh ones: red, two-tone and especially the black ones. What could be more marvellous than having them on tap during the summer, ripened and warmed by the sun, just waiting to be plucked from the tree?
That was my reasoning about five or six years ago, when, in the depths of winter, I ventured into the alien territory of the garden centre to pick out a cherry tree. I found a strong, healthy looking black cherry specimen and decided to buy a Czar plum tree for good measure. They weren’t cheap, but I saw it as an investment in my future eating pleasure. The following week, they were joined by a Williams pear tree.
Due to the insecurity of rented accommodation, we decided the fruit trees would live in my parents’ garden. A year after they were planted, we had the first crop of plums – and they were divine. The pear tree, which came from a plastic bag outside Woolworth’s and thus missed the mollycoddled garden centre start in life, managed to produce a couple of fruit. My beautiful cherry tree? Not a bean, let alone a cherry.
The following year, the plum tree spread out further across the sun-warmed, mellow brick wall, the pear tree grew in stature and again, they both managed to produce. The cherry tree didn’t. “It’s putting on growth,” said my granddad, who knows about these things.
Last year, when the summer heatwave even reached the chill of Northumberland, two cherries appeared on my tree. Greedily, I watched them ripen, anticipating eating them like one would a meal at The Ivy. But before I could pick them, they were stolen by birds.
I caught a glimpse of ostentatious pink froth atop a cherry tree today; needless to say, it wasn’t mine…