Sunday 2 August 2009

Treesons to be cheerful: Part one

A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.
Welsh proverb

Walthamstow Wonder Leaves Pink-tinged leaves of the Walthamstow Wonder

Our friend Phil went on a tree grafting course and the result was this apple sapling, variety Walthamstow Wonder. Never heard of it? No, neither had I. That’s because it’s a newly discovered variety and my little twig is one of only a handful in existence. Its mother tree was found growing in an old lady’s garden in Walthamstow and extensive investigations to discover what it was were, shall we say, fruitless - though the tree itself bore much fruit, delicious apples with juicy, pink-tinged flesh.

Walthamstow Wonder on M76 root stock
Phil grafted a scion from the old lady’s tree onto crab apple rootstock and the graft took. Unluckily for him but luckily for us, he doesn’t have space for it in his own garden so he gave it to us. I really think that if there are people on this earth whose innate beneficence matches the boundless generosity of cooks, it’s gardeners. Just as I’ve seldom visited the house of a keen cook without coming home with lovingly wrapped leftovers or at the very least a new recipe, so I’ve seldom said goodbye to a keen gardener without a few cuttings or seeds tucked into my bag.

So here I am with my rare specimen. I am delighted and terrified in equal measure. It needs to stay in a pot for a couple of years before it can be planted out and in that time, I have the onerous responsibility of protecting it from drought and flood, scorching sun and withering frost, pests and pets. But I’m thrilled. Is there any human activity more optimistic than planting a tree? Any more profound demonstration of trust in a benevolent future? My Walthamstow Wonder may be little more than a twig but - in its 20 or so leaves - I spy spring mornings sparkling with frothy blossom and autumn afternoons fragrant with pink-tinged pies, tarts and crumbles.

The Sapling


  1. Hi D

    Just catching up on your blog after a week in the (astonishingly hot) Spanish mountains - a week with no phone or email contact, absolute bliss! Your fragile tree indeed sounds exciting and scary in equal measures. It will be a joy to watch it grow and develop.

    Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday.

    Clare xx

  2. Dear Debora

    I love the story about how this little tree came about. How long before the apple pies? B loves those.

    A lucky tree to be in your care...


  3. And I am thrilled for you! It's so exciting and so special to be the guardian of a rare variety of any plant, but it's particularly exciting when it will eventually produce something delicious to eat. And as an added bonus it has such beautiful foliage too! What a lovely friend and what a wonderful gift. X

  4. i love pink tinged fruit and the thought of raising a tree from a sapling that is highly unique - maybe one of it's kind
    i think that you are just the perfect tree mummy
    does it need a branch warmer just yet?
    i can always send along some knitting come the season
    to keep it warm

  5. What a lovely idea, what a lovely much to look forward to....

  6. How charming. And just like a new baby, I shall be expecting photographic updates showing it's growth and transformation. No pressure. Hehe.

  7. Clare - So jealous! Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.
    Mum - Daddy might have to wait a while for pies, but he'll certainly be first in line. In the meantime, Phil's bringing me some plums - jam? Chutney? Taking orders now ...
    Lady P - A tree-cosy! How thrilling.
    Catherine - One of the things I love about gardening is that it's the very definition of 'something to look forward to'.
    Mariana - I promise updates on the little tree's progress!
    Love and licked spoons to all, Dxxx

  8. that's one lucky tree! good luck and can't wait to see those apples in the future!

  9. It's always great to discover new varieties of foliage to use around the house! These look lovely and golden :)

  10. Glenda and Marta - Isn't it just lovely? Can't wait for it to be all grown up. Thank you for visiting.

  11. If the apples taste half as lovely as the leaves look, then what a treat you're in for - hope to try one one day

  12. What a nice gift! How long till it will bear fruit?

  13. I hope all is well with you since you haven't updated in a while....Please check out my new post--I have a little something for you.

  14. What a wonderful gift! And how special to be one of the only people to have one of these trees!

  15. What a great story behind your little tree! I hope it grows healthy and strong and is fruitful! And...I can't wait to see apple recipes when it does produce fruit. The pink sounds interesting and I am looking forward to see some pictures too!

    There is one apple that I absolutely love and that is The Pink Lady. The fruit is sweet but with a bit of tart to it as well. It has a good storage time and can be used for baking/ cooking or just eating straight off the tree! ;)


  16. MarkD - I hope you will too! You are going to have to help me not to kill it.
    Almost American - Oh, it will be a few years yet.I suppose it will teach me patience. Thank you so much for visiting my blog.
    Catherine - All well, just very busy with family things, work and the planning the wedding I'm catering in September. Eeek! Thanks so much for your concern - it's very touching - and for the lovely 'present'.
    Apples and Butter - I feel very honoured indeed. I'm very excited to see how it develops.
    QSM - Thank you for your good wishes. Now I have written about my tree, I feel an even greater weight of responsibility to ensure its good health.


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