26 Oct 2013

A Capel Moment

Crab apples
~ Malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel' in the Which? trial gardens ~

Thursday's glorious weather coincided with my day at college and provided the perfect opportunity for an extended walk through the Capel Manor gardens in my lunchbreak.  Access to the gardens is one of the great attractions of studying at the Enfield site; there are 35 acres to explore: gardens, trees, woodland, ponds and the walled manor garden as well as the Which? trial gardens. After studying there for over a year, I'm still finding new plants to look at or revisiting more familiar plants as they change with the seasons.

As a food grower at home, I've noticed a few edible plants tucked into the gardens. Some are replanted after a trial has finished, such as the excellent and delicious Brice raspberries I found two weeks ago when I sat to have lunch behind a bank of Gaura lindheimeri (helloooo pudding!), others are grown as ornamentals. There are some gorgeous plump (false) quinces on a Chaenomeles x superba 'Red and Gold' at the moment and I found medlars and a mulberry tree in another of the gardens a few weeks ago. I checked back and the medlars are still there, untouched.

Medlar

And then we come to the spice and herb selection:  The conicle flowers of a large Rhus typhina tree could be dried and ground to make Sumac - but I'd need a ladder to reach them! The spice is commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking, imparting a tart lemon flavour that also lends itself to salads. The flowers can also be used to make pink lemonade and beekeepers can use them to smoke their hives (or so I'm led to Wiki-believe).  There are herbs dotted throughout the gardens: low hedges of rosemary or lavender, bronze and green fennel in the borders and, in the 'kitchen garden' of the manor ruins (a concept garden to tell the history of the site), horseradish, thyme, mint, marjoram and more fennel. There are even edible berries on shrubs such as Cornus kousa and Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry) although personally I think those are best left for the birds.

My route from the design studio to the restaurant takes me past many of the ornamental show gardens so I see those regularly; yesterday I fancied a wander further afield around the trial gardens. It's always interesting to see what the Which? gardeners are growing before reading about it in the magazine.

Fallen apples

I've never found the orchard before and I was appalled to see so many apples and pears lying on the ground just rotting.  What a waste! I know there's a lot to be done at this time of year but I couldn't help thinking that surely the time could have been found to gather the apples before they fell? There was a couple left on one tree, one of which became part of my lunch - an extremely crisp and juicy green apple, I can't name the variety as I couldn't find a tag by the tree but it was delicious!

Wandering on, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a glorious crab apple tree which I remember as Malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel' from last year's plant knowledge (photo at top).  I also remember fruit dangling off the bare stemmed tree in January, another harvest left to be, as with all the crab apples in the ground.

Even the walled manor house garden is not immune - there I saw Cavolo Nero kale popped in among the cosmos which I thought was an idea worth copying! There's certainly no shortage of inspiration or food on a Thursday college day!

Kale and cosmos






14 comments:

  1. A most enjoyable post. Whilst I don't mind some fruit being left on the ground for the birds like you I'm appalled when it's a lot like that.
    It ready has been such a good year for cosmos. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks, Flighty! I can't bear waste (especially food) and think of what could be made with all that fruit. I hope next year is equally good for cosmos, it's on my plant list for 2014! xx

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  2. green dark kale and bright purple cosmos. So beautiful. I think the 'Red sentinel' also interesting for the landscape, the fruits are so attractive. But I really sorry that I can't plant here.

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    1. I love it, Endah! such a lovely combination of colours and textures! I wouldn't mind having some of your sunshine, pity we can't share!!

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  3. Oh lucky you having this wonderful place to wander through on your lunch break. I know I'd be late back! What a shame about the wasted apples. It sounds like there are so many fascinating things to see. I always like to see what edibles are being grown. I bet the mulberry is fantastic.

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    1. I know .... isn't it fab?! Yes, I'm known for being late back from lunch - just a few minutes - but the tutors know it's because I'm plant obsessed which is what being on the course is all about! I'll have to photograph the mulberry because you're right, it is gorgeous as it's been underpruned to make a lovely dome shape.

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  4. Lovely photos, thanks for sharing. I studied at the Capel Manor Gunnersbury site but I did get to visit the Enfield site for a practical exam a couple of years ago. I managed a quick look round the gardens before the exam although I think my mind was more focused on other things at the time!

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    1. Hi and thanks for stopping to comment! I've never been to the Gunnersbury site although find the Regent's Park site handy for borrowing library books. As Enfield is the main site, there's always plenty to look at throughout the year!

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  5. Such a lot of lovely things to find during your explorations - happy hunting.

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    1. Thanks Elaine - you'd think I'd have seen everything by now but everything changes on a seasonal basis so always something to marvel at!

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  6. Hope that you get a long, long, long lunch break Caro. With 35 acres to explore it's not surprising that you had not come across the orchard before. What a shame that fruit was going to waste :( Has the 'Which' malus trial finished yet? I'm trying to chose one to plant in the garden this year. I like that cavalo nero and cosmos combination.

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    1. No, not long for lunch, Anna - I have to really watch the time and always take sandwiches to eat 'on the go'! I don't know about the malus trial - perhaps that's what the 'orchard' is! I can always find one of their staff and ask! Yes, I like the kale and cosmos combo - may well copy for the garden next year!!

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  7. I'm envious of your lunch time walk. The grounds look beautiful. It's awful to see so much food wasted. Why don't they have a community fruit pick if they don't have the labour to pick the fruit themselves? It is rather shocking when some people are living off food from food banks to see this. We used to live in a village that had lots of old orchards dotted around which had become incorporated into people's gardens. Every year the fruit fell to the floor. If we hadn't moved I had planned to try and get a group of pickers together and then give the fruit to schools.

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    1. I do love my lunchtime wander, Welly - and I'm amazed that I never see any of the other students doing the same! They're all head down over lunch indoors in the café!! The sight of wasted fruit reassures me that I shouldn't feel guilty if I eat a few raspberries or apples on my wanders! A community picking session sounds like a good idea. Our local community centre hosts a £1 lunch (mostly for people on a limited income but everyone is welcome) and they'd probably be very glad of freshly gathered produce! I like the sound of your idea, very community natured, excellent!

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Caro x

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