One of the beauties of growing your own fruit is that you can grow things that you don’t often come across in the supermarket. Quince (Cydonia oblonga) is something that is well worth growing both for its large, delightful pink blossom in the spring and its large yellow fruits in the autumn.
The tree in our orchard was planted in 1995 and did take some years to get going but now fruits reliably year after year. The fruits do seem prone to scab but this only effects the fruits on the surface and does not impact the flesh at all.
At first glance the fruits might seem daunting being hard and solid and difficult to cut through. You will need to feel strong to prepare these! However, peeled and cored and boiled for around an hour in a limited amount of water creates a wonderful, fragrant peach coloured puree that is quite unique. Mash up (technical term!) with a hand blender and add sugar, lemon and cinnamon and you have the most wonderful puree for use in a wide range of desserts.
The following Quince Crumble Tart from BBC Good Food recipe is one we have done many times and always works well. The quinces will fill your house with a beautiful quince perfume.
Tip: We freeze cooked fruit in large muffin trays. When frozen tip them out into a bag, label and pop back in the freezer. You can then take out exactly the amount you need when you need it. One frozen block fits nicely in a ramekin dish, then topped with crumble mix and placed in the oven gives a quick pud.
Honey Pot Flowers is located in the small hamlet of Lower Norton between Warwick and Henley in Arden in the heart of the Warwickshire Countryside.
The garden is about 1 acre in size and is at around 350ft above sea level sloping gently down hill in a south-westerly direction. This does mean that the garden in bathed in sun throughout the day but is subject to south westerly winds as they blow up the shallow valley and across the fields beyond.
The soil conditions vary throughout the garden with some areas very dry and others continually damp. This allows us to grow a wide range of different plants as long as we are very careful in exploring what each individual plant prefers. We have learnt a lot over the years about what works and what does not.
Prior to setting up the garden in 1994 the site was meadow grazing although there is evidence of previous ridge and furrow cultivation especially in the orchard area.
We have about 2 feet of soil sitting on top of heavy (triassic) clay. In the winter this means that the water table is very high and many parts of the garden are sodden and there is often standing water in some of the beds. The top soil is very sandy and dries out quickly in the summer but over the years we have improved this by adding lots of organic matter from our own garden compost heaps. Both the wet and the dry offer interesting challenges. For example some of our large orchard trees have struggled to gain a deep foot hold and have ended up leaning badly (but are still very productive as you will see).
The garden is sheltered on all sides now by a range of tree species. Many were planted in the early 90’s as part of a Warwickshire District Council hedgerow scheme. The boundary hedgerow and copse trees include hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), hazel (Corylus avellana), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), oak (Quercus robur), ash (Fraxinus excelsior), lime (Tilia x europaea), field maple (Acer campestre) and holly (Ilex aquifolium). As many are now over 25 years old these mature trees provide a wonderful range of habitats for different wildlife species.
We are starting a new era and setting out on an exciting journey – we would like you to share this with us.
We are Carol and Steve Lucey, a husband and wife team with a life long interest in growing beautiful plants, being creative and enjoying the countryside. We are now in a position to spend more time developing our own garden, building on over 30 years working in agriculture and horticulture research, as a garden designer and professional gardener and more recently growing a wide range of wonderful British cut flowers. For the last six years we have had great fun, developing a new business providing locally grown British cut flowers and events floristry for weddings, gifts and celebrations.
For a number of years our flower garden, though beautiful has been a rather utilitarian space. The objective has been to grow as many flowers as possible. Not a bad objective but we feel it is now time to develop the garden into a more creative and beautiful space, focusing on the enjoyment of wonderful plant combinations rather than purely seeking the biggest income.
Although it is a great pleasure in its own right a garden is for sharing and through this blog we would like to share our successes and the inevitable failures and ask you for your advice and comment.
As well as the development of the garden we are keen to exploit what it produces. Much of the garden yields produce to eat and we will be sharing some of the exciting recipes and drinks that result. We would love to receive your recipes as well.
Our life in wedding floristry also remains a passion and over the months we will bring together some of the wonderful flower combinations that you may wish to try out yourself.
Finally, we share the garden with the local wildlife and will share the rich biodiversity that we have around us.
We look forward to hearing from you over the coming years!