Our orchard is nothing much to look at yet. Two years ago, about two weeks after I met my husband, I suggested (some might say coerced with the power of fluttering, mascara-clad eyelashes) that he might like to put in an orchard of heritage apples, pears, almonds and crabapples in one of his paddocks. I’m glad I got in early, because orchards take years to stop looking like a bunch of lonely skinny sticks and start linking up their canopies in clouds of blossoms and fruit. You can’t let the sheep in to graze under the trees for a few years either (otherwise they’ll just eat the trees and ignore the long grass), so we’re mowing ours at the moment. But my aim eventually is only to mow long paths between the rows of trees, because I want to underplant them with hedgerows of wildflowers, rugosa roses, bulbs and berries, all mixed together in a sort of rustic, romantic, rambling fashion.
To get things started, I’ve taken elderberry cuttings from my city garden and we’ve strung up wires and waratahs to support boysenberries and raspberries (and possibly grape vines), plus I have plans to haul out all the cosmos and wildflowers from the wedding garden and use them as a seedy mulch around the trees. Plus there’s already quite a bit of red clover and ox-eye daisies growing wild in the paddock… which brings me to the bulbs.
Spring bulbs are simply gorgeous under deciduous fruit trees, so last night I succumbed to retail therapy and ordered a huge selection of white and cream daffodils, snowdrops, green-tinged tulips, bluebells, crocus and a few fancy frittillarias from NZ Bulbs‘ website. Now I’ve just got to rope in a team to plant them all. (When I visited Highgrove, Prince Charles’ private garden, a few years ago, he told us how he planted 7000 species tulips in his wildflower meadow. He gave sacks of bulbs to his team of gardeners and told them they couldn’t go home until they were all in the ground. I’m not sure that strategy will work on my husband and parents, but here’s hoping! I’ll treat them to apple tarte tatin if they agree.)