When we were urban foragers living in the city, cherry trees were a favourite, especially the irony of collecting a free basket from the productive cherry trees at the end of a large supermarket car park while those inside paid for theirs.
So it was exciting to inherit an old orchard when we moved to The Secret Acre. And although mainly apples and plums, there was also an elderly cherry.
Although we soon learned, somewhat counterintuitively, that while urbans birds seem to ignore the city cherry harvest, their country cousins will swoop overnight and strip a tree. Too big to protect with netting, the result has been that we have not eaten a single cherry since moving in!
So when a neighbour kindly offered us a small cherry tree they no longer wanted, we jumped at the chance to start some orchard renewal, and gain a younger cherry of netable size.
Since moving in we have been content to leave the orchard alone. Even though, like the cherry, most of the trees are old and some unproductive, it felt wrong not to give them a chance, like the sudden unexpected quince harvest one year.
Fortunately there are also still some gaps to fill with new trees before we have to make any harsh decisions. Laid out in a four by four grid, there are a few unfilled spots, some with stumps telling a bit of the orchard’s history.
So for now, our new cherry has claimed one of those empty spots. The first sign of renewal in the orchard, and we hope a return to free cherries, netting permitting!