Tuesday, April 03, 2007

With a cherry on top

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…

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have made me feel very guilty now - as a 'homeowner' I can't be bothered to do any gardening at all.

But maybe we would be better living a semi-nomadic existence ? If you put up a tree at your accommodation, and everyone else had the same idea, then when you move somewhere else you just take on someone else's tree ?

After all, the fact that I have the freedom to 'own' my home is nonsense. The bank owns my house and is just another form of slavery as the mortgage has to be paid.

I am not green fingered myself, but there is a national scandal about the lack of allotments, as councils sell off the land and drive us into the arms of the supermarkets built on the school playing fields they also used to own.

Like you, I could plant trees at my parents house, which has a large-ish garden [and already has a few apple trees] but I am just too bloody lazy. But maybe my guilt will gnaw away at me and conscience will push me into learning those skills I so often dismissed as not worth the candle.

mountainear said...

....and these words aren't mine (I wish they were). We have have AE Housman to thank:

'Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.'

We've planted fruit trees here, apple, pear, plum and cherry - choosing local varieties where we can. Wonder if we will be here long enough to see our orchard at it's best - but guess we should plant for the future as well as for ourselves.

Anonymous said...

mountainear - for some stupid reason whenever I see your 'handle' I think of that joke about 'Spock' having a 'left ear, right ear, and space, the final frontear [sic]...

Sorry, I guess it must just be me..

Anna said...

You poor dear. It's a cruel joke, these fruit trees play. I had a gloriously beautiful plum tree w/ spring buds that shone peridot green against the still steely spring sky. Summer would finally bring harvest and all the darn plums looked like they needed a cleft palate surgery. Argh.

Mopsa said...

4 cherries planted in the orchard this winter - 2 morello, 1 Dun and 1 Fice - if they are as laggardly as yours has turned out to be, I'll cry! Perhaps a sprinkle of "oofle dust" round the base might help (a singular pruning specialist's lingo for bone meal).

Ziggi said...

what a coincidence - I planted a pear, plum and cherry 2 years ago when we moved here. The plums and pears were great last year but no cherries either. So following your post I have been out to inspect and there are definitely buds on there!

rilly super said...

darling darling, we really need to have a girl to girl talk about you losing your cherries in this way

Karen said...

I too live in a rented house and dodn't even have a garden. At the moment I have an aloe vera and a money tree on the window ledge of my kitchen.

In my tiny yard I have on pot which had crocuses in, now has what I think are grape hyacinths and will eventually have Queen of the Night tulips - my favourite flowers!

I would love to grow an avocado tree as I read an article in the Guardian and seems fairly easy.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Anon, I don't do the gardening business - I leave that to people who know what they're doing! I bought the bugger so it should produce fruit!

Mountaineer - that's lovely ...

Anna - were you the person searching for 'prue sarn' or is your comment just serendipitous?

Mopsa - I think my cherry tree is just lazy.

Ziggi - I will check mine for buds tonight ...

Rilly - :0

Karen - how long to avocados take to grow? I love 'em

Lizzie said...

I think fruit trees go from famine to glut from year to year, depending on all sorts of things, like early frosts, for instance. Ours do at least. So one year there isn't a single pear while the following year the poor tree is struggling to keep upright with the weight of its fruit. Haven't tried cherries yet. I think the birds would decimate every cherry they could find if there were any to find at all.

james higham said...

I love cherries and this post was a delight. Besides, the background colour suited it.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Lizzie - we need constancy in our fruit - well, I would rather my cherry tree constantly produced ...

James - thank you, you're very kind!

The Grocer said...

I know with our Apple Tree we need to prune back annually in order to encourage fruiting, I am not sure about cherries though. Did you see which species of bird ate the cherries?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Grocer, if I had seen the bird, it would now be an ex-bird...

Karen said...

M&M I'm not sure how long the avocadoes will take to grow (a while I should think). I'll try to dig up the article online, if not I'll look in my scrap book and hope that I kept the cutting!

Gill said...

Cherries are my absolute most favourite fruit in the whole world. I once risked life and limb to climb my nan's old cherry tree because there were two red cherries on the top- and guess what?! The birds had pecked them away at the back leaving only a shiny red shell facing the house. BASTARDS!