I Love October For...

Just a few of the apple varieties grafted onto the family apple tree at Waterperry Gardens.
Sally Nex has more to say about this tree here
... Apples

Many of you won't be surprised by this revelation as I've written about apples so many times, particularly in October. This post won't be the last one, I can assure you :)

October is the month when I harvest most of my apples; from the trees in my garden and those shoehorned into my allotment plot. There are enough at the latter for it to be classified as an orchard, even though it's nothing like the one I'd really like to have.

So it was a pleasure last week to find myself in the kind of orchard I'd like to call my own - lots of trees, many varieties and plenty of room to show them off at their healthy best.

Waterperry is famed for its herbaceous borders and asters, so our visit was well timed. It was
good to discover it has plenty of other strings to its bow, particularly trained apples and pears

Waterperry Gardens has been on my 'to see list' for a very long time, so attending the study day organised by the Garden Media Guild last Tuesday meant I'd get to see it, have the opportunity to learn something and be in some very fine company too.

Most of the afternoon was scheduled for a pruning masterclass in the orchard amongst the trained cordon and espalier apple trees. I must confess a little less pruning was done than perhaps was originally envisaged by the Waterperry team. We were meant to help them out, but had far too many questions to ask instead. I did pick up some very useful tips though, plus enough material for a Breaking the Rules post for you later this month :)

Horticultural Manager Rob Jacobs demonstrates the pruning cuts required
to train an apple tree into a cordon or espalier

Part of the reason for us failing in our pruning endeavours was my need to discuss the apple trees seen along our motorways. You see, I've been contemplating them quite a bit this year during my frequent travels along the M5 and I'm sure there must be an amazing pool of new varieties along there. After all, most apples aren't self-fertile, so the ones I've seen waving at me could all be awaiting discovery for anyone daring (or foolish?) enough to explore along the verges.

Gerry Edwards soon confirmed my thinking and told me there's a newly launched variety (in 2010) called 'Christmas Pippin' which was sourced from close to the M5 motorway in Somerset. It's so good, it will probably be awarded an RHS AGM very soon.

However, he disagreed with my observation that an apple which can germinate and grow strongly along a motorway - against the odds - must have the potential to be a great variety. Apparently the pollution from all those cars and lorries zooming along can protect the trees from many diseases, just like the sulphur from factory pollution did for e.g. roses until the Clean Air Act came along. It means any variety sourced in this way needs many years of trials in clean air before it can be declared commercially viable.

Despite the odds stacked against them - seed viability, sufficient cold for germination, competition from other plants, disease protection via pollution etc etc - I wonder how long it'll be before 'Christmas Pippin' is joined by other new varieties sourced via our motorways or railways?

Don't forget it's Apple Day on 21st October, so there's bound to be several events nearby for you to choose from. Waterperry's own Apple Weekend this year is 11th to 13th October from 10am to 4pm. As well as assuring you there's a fine orchard to wander in, I can also vouch for the quality of the apples and single variety apple juice they have on offer :)

The stock beds at Waterperry, laid out as a 'living catalogue'. Now I'll have one of those,
...and that one,  ...oh I do like the look of that, and...
Yes, I did bring a few plants home ;)

What do you love October for? Tell me in the comments below, or do join me in my new monthly meme on the 2nd of each month and post your response (in whatever way you fancy - writing, photos, poetry, artwork etc) on your blog...


  1. I love apple trees too. I picked from my two small trees yesterday - Ribston Pippin and Egremont Russet. Also a couple of Coxes Orange Pippins. All utterly delicious - we had a little taste test after tea. I think I will be joining you in shoehorning a small orchard onto my allotment. I also have a dream of an orchard (with bees and chickens), but I think the allotment might have to do instead. I love the clocks going back in October, and the dark short days and early evenings, and Hallowe'en and that feeling of winter coming and also, it's my birthday! A lovely post VP, I look forward to hearing more about apples from you soon.

    1. Hi CJ - I share your orchard dream too :) Happy birthday - we're celebrating a family birthday this month too!

  2. Ah my apples are nearly over over now, they're earlier ones - pink lady. I don't love days like today but am staying optimistic for the rest of October! I've just written a post about the changes in my garden over autumn, I love the way some plants come into their own and the way some just cling on. Asters are exceptional at this time of year. I went to Temple Newsam in Leeds last weekend to look at them but they weren't at their peak by any means! They have the national collection in Leeds, I'll have to post my photos but silly me forgot my camera - too busy battling with the dog! So I only have phone photos - not great! Waterperry looks great and the study day sounds cool! Really lovely photo of the border :)

    1. Lots of plants clinging on here too Anna! The Cyclamen are just coming into their own though :)

  3. I love apples! What a great experience you had at Waterperry Gardens.
    The things I love most about October is the beautiful weather, and the leaves turning all glorious colors. And my birthday is in october, too.
    Lea's Menagerie

  4. Sounds like a most useful and enjoyable day at Waterperry VP. As a matter of interest just how many apple trees constitute an orchard? I was at the allotment yesterday to harvest my 'Sunset' apples - just in the nick of time methinks. One or two had crash landed and the forecast for the next couple of days or so isn't too good. I love walking up our lane on October mornings and discovering shiny conkers on the ground.

    1. I tried to find out for sure Anna, but can't find the reference. If memory serves, the National Trust definition when they did their study a couple of years ago is 5.

  5. Apples, pumpkins and lots of colorful leaves...

    1. Yes, I'm looking forward to harvesting my pumpkins too Donna :)


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