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It’s All Apples and Pears at Arundel Castle Gardens!
Although the summer weather this year has been varied, Arundel Castle’s gardens continue to flourish, especially in the organic kitchen garden where our stunning
fan-trained pears are dangling expectantly off the ancient castle garden walls, waiting to be harvested.
Pears were first cultivated over 4000 years ago and feature heavily in Greek & Roman texts. In the British Domesday Book pears trees were referred to as boundary markers on the land. The majority of pears in Britain were brought over from France in the medieval period and were used for both medicinal purposes and cooked for eating. Cultivation of pears from the 15th century onwards became ever more popular and it was around 1640’s that grafting onto quince rootstock began to replace pear and apple rootstock, this has gone from strength to strength with the later introductions of Belgian pears. Here at the castle gardens our pears are fan-trained and have the added advantage of being protected by ancient brick walls, facing eastward giving them early light and southern warmth.
We also have a fantastic crop of apples, grapes and autumn fruiting raspberries. It’s lovely to see our grapes hang down from the roof of our original 1852 Victorian Vine House, which is quite a sight.
In early August we gave our trained apples & pears their summer prune, which allows sunlight to ripen their fruits and ensures a good crop the following year.
We are harvesting our early apples such as ‘Discovery’, it’s great when you see one or two fruits drop to the ground, signaling it is nearly ready to pick, you can always check if they are ready with a more traditional method by just gently twisting the fruit and it should part with its stalk intact.
Earlier this year we added to our small orchard, located just outside the Collector Earl’s Garden entrance, by planting a collection of Sussex apples. When buying apple trees always check on the rootstock as this will determine the size of your tree, as an example Root Stock M27 will be a small tree, we have planted M106 & M116 which will grow to about 4.5m, and we have given them an approximate distance of 5m in spacing. We bought our trees from a local specialist, we have ensured that we chose a good selection including Petworth’s Egremont Russet - a golden eating apple with russet, crisp, dry and a rich nutty flavour, Hawkridge from the Hailsham area, a sweet eating apple, Crawley Beauty an eating & cooking apple that’s great for purees, it’s pale green with broken red stripes. Saltcote Pippin from the Rye area, it becomes more sweet and aromatic as it ripens and the Tinsley Quince from the Crawley area, a slightly quince taste and smell.
Although the trees will take many years to fully mature we already have some that have produced fruit, we removed the majority of the fruit this year to allow for the tree to grow stronger at this very early stage of their development, and we expect that it will be from next year onwards the we expect a harvest. The apples are produced for the castle with surplus available to purchase by our visitors from our honesty box in the Victorian Vine House.
A few tips from the castle garden team:
Arundel Castle and Gardens are open throughout August, including Monday’s. Arundel Festival from the 19-28 August. Arundel Castle are excited to once again be part of the Festival, this year hosting two nights of al fresco Shakespeare in the Collector Earl’s Garden - a truly magical experience for the audience and other historic events.
Happy Gardening from the Arundel Castle Garden Team!