Modest beginnings of urban orchards

Sitting in my back yard on Sunday afternoon, engrossed in some freelance proofreading and wrapped up in a jerkin against the incipient autumnal weather, I heard a loud thump.

I always fancied owning an orchard. Apples are the fruit of the gods, and there is something wholesome, seductive and entirely English about the vision of sitting under an apple tree on a summer’s day, writing one’s diary in the shade with a glass of cold cider from the previous year’s crop. A fellow can dream.

Some dreams are best left alone, but I am determined to make the Braime orchard a reality, even if practicalities have meant I’ve had to start small. My ‘garden’ is more accurately a small concrete yard hidden behind an old Victorian townhouse in North London, but among its jumbled containers of flowers, dwarf trees, climbers, herbs and fruit bushes, I found space last winter for a small, self-pollinating apple tree. Because all orchards have to start somewhere.

I will not be going into the wholesale business any time soon. This year, two apples have grown on my tiny tree, and it was one of these that dropped on Sunday afternoon and rolled down the centre of the yard towards me. The first fruit of my first orchard, and without doubt the best apple I have ever tasted.

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