The main orchard


There are fifteen ripening apricots on my tree. This is momentous, stupendous and downright marvellous. The maximum harvest I have ever enjoyed on my apricot tree is… two.

In four years. And the wasps ate one of those.

And frankly after the late frost we had here in the region this spring I’m amazed anything managed to set fruit. Plus I planted this against the lean-to wood store in the east side of the house. Where cold wind will come blast the blossom off the tree. (What was I thinking?)

So this little miracle is a yearned for adventure in about a fortnight’s time. They are not ripe. I check them daily.

And speaking of checking daily, I should be checking out how many frustrated locked in lockdown readers I have and write daily too. If only to give a glimpse of the outside world. Last year we were the ones under months of house arrest… it is not easy. I feel your pain.

So after my morning walk – cardigan-ed up because it was chilly …

…around the mountain, past the ripening grain crops on the more fertile side…

… back up the steep road to the house…

… spotting all the apples in the orchard for the first time EVER…

That’s my office window being engulfed by a very vigorous Virginia creeper.

… cup of tea (via a minor drama when we realised the storms had tripped the solar panel electricity feed to the grid a week ago and we didn’t notice) and now I’m in at my desk and ready to write.


It bears fruit. Most years I will get some nectarines and lots of peach leaf curl on the manky tree. Cherries from the older trees, a glimpse of apple action on the proper orchard trees… And that’s about it.

And this year I finally did it. The nectarine is down and out. It really was miserable. Even if it did fruit rather well.

There is also a glaring gap in the long shot after the lovely apple tree came down in a recent storm. The almond trees are too small and are engulfed by the grasses so you can’t spot them in among the sea of growth.

I should go out and photograph this better. But I’ll get distracted and not come back.

The orchard is mostly decorative. A sort of vertical punctuation of trees in between the sea of eragrostis curvula grasses, phlomis, ballota, irises and sage below.

It doesn’t concern me unduly. I have never got round to being one who sprays against peach leaf curl. Or the grubs that seem to enjoy the rest of the fruit trees. Always just out of reach.

Have you noticed that? Garden on a mountain, on terraces, on a steep slope. And the nests of grubs that hatch out and form that vile spidery ball in among your just forming fruit is invariably at leaping in the air height. And out of reach.

Not this year. I managed to prune properly in early spring, and caught every emerging horrid squishy clump. Gloved hands of course. I am not that keen on the texture. Or the shuddering sensation they are crawling up your arm when you squish and miss.

And I even had enough fruit to actually thin them down so they will grow on to a better than golf ball sized delight.

Even the apple tree at the edge of the potager seemed to miss the grub infestation this year. It wasn’t a particularly prolonged cold winter. I put it down to dumb luck.

Plus this year has been absurdly moist. Rainfall. Plenty of damp lovely cool days. The sort where you think you are gardening in England, or the Southern Highlands in New South Wales, or Tasmania. Not in a drought stricken mediterranean climate.

And the reward is an orchard of apples. Some almost ripe. That’s the early Falstaff I planted a decade ago and have manage to munch my way through half a dozen fruit in all that time. And yes, it leans.

And yes, the deer usually prune the lower branches for me.

They certainly do a good job on the cherries.

But thank goodness the combined attack from deer and late frost didn’t deter the mighty Noir de Meched cherries. I managed a harvest.

A plump dark cherry explosion of early summer.

Only two surviving trees out of the four I planted. But they seem nicely hidden from the worst of the weather with a stone wall behind them.

And they are now growing tall enough that I can stand on the terrace above the trees and pick the fruit. Saves on a cherry picker or risking death by ladder and leaning out.

And I leave you with the one main ‘orchard’ crop.


The chestnut. Flowering like mad all over the mountains, sending that sickly sweet smell into the air and making us sneeze.

Bodes well for autumn.