I’m as excited as a fashionista with a credit card and an empty wardrobe. The first fruit tree catalogue for the 2010 autumn/winter planting season has just landed on my desk. It’s from Sarah Frater’s Manawatu mail-order nursery The Edible Garden and it’s full of hard-to-find heritage fruit and nut trees.
Sarah’s catalogue always makes me sigh. It makes me sigh because simply reading the descriptions is enough to instantly make me want one of everything, from a dwarf ‘Kotare Honey’ peach to an ‘Umeboshi’ plum (just pick, dry, press and pickle the sour fruit in sea salt to cure hangovers).Until now, reading Sarah’s catalogue has made me sigh because I want one of everything, but have room for nothing. If my city garden was a cheap hotel, I’d have to install a flickering neon No Vacancy sign out the front.When I bought my 733sqm section it came with apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, elderberries, loquats, pears and plums. In the five years since, I’ve shoehorned in another 65 fruit trees: more apples, crabapples, feijoas, lemons, limes, mandarins, dwarf nectarines, olives, peaches, double-grafted pears, prunes and a quince.My city garden is full, but my new country garden is a comparatively blank 17-hectare canvas. Last winter we put in 95 fruit trees: 40 almonds, 20 apples, 20 pears, five ‘Jelly King’ crabapples, five ‘Damson’ plums and five ‘Griotella’ sour cherry trees. We’ve lost a few to the drought, and a few to the wind, and the dog dup up one of the cherries, but the rest are going great guns.
So when I read Sarah’s new catalogue this week, it made me sigh. It made me sigh because now that I can have one of everything, I don’t know where to start.
Perhaps a few vintage cider apples? ‘Kingston Black’ for astringency, ‘Sidero’ for aroma, ‘Bisquet’ for a bittersweet balance and ‘Sweet Alford’ for a sugary finish.
I want walnuts – ‘Wilson’s Wonder’, ‘Rex’ and ‘Meyric’ – and count me in for a grove of chestnuts and a ‘Merv De Bolwillier’ hazelnut.
I’ll take a ‘Black Pearl’ nectarine, a ‘Blackboy’ peach and a ‘Queenie’ black mulberry too. According to German folklore, the devil used mulberry roots to polish his boots, though I’ll be content to stain my fingers purple with its loganberry-like fruit every summer.
Self Sufficiently Lynda is published each week in Sunday magazine in the Sunday Star Times.
© Lynda Hallinan 2010