The Apple Orchard: The Story of Our Most English Fruit The Apple Orchard: The Story of Our Most English Fruit by Pete Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A few years ago I remember someone who lived in an Orchard Close frequently having to explain to people what an orchard actually was. For those of you still unsure, Pete Brown has titled this book to give you a subtle clue. These glorious pieces of landscape have been created by man for hundreds of years and are that bridge between the completely wild and the tamed garden. In these beautiful creations, you will find all sorts of wonderful things, cherries, pears, cobnuts, but most frequently, the apple.

Taking us through all of the stages in the year to bring the apple tree to fruit we will learn about cold units, grafting, why you cannot plant just one apple variety and he even has a go at harvesting. His journey starts with a slice of fresh apple, and very nearly ends there when he realises that he is allergic to them! Thankfully he is not allergic to cider… His journey takes him far and wide starting with the Pagan festival of Beltane, he meets morris men, Kingston Black, scientists, wassailers, makes a pilgrimage to the home of the Bramley, joins in with an Apple Day, helps make cider and meets yet more morris men.

It all started when he was researching about cider and realised that he had made more notes about the places where the apple was grown than he had about the cider. The seeds that were sown there, lead to this superb book on the delight of that most English of places, the orchard being written. He is a great author, up until now I have only come across him on Radio 4, but this book is witty, whilst staying interesting and rigorous all the way through. Sadly, orchards have been on the decline, something that he intends to change by writing this book, with the hope that communities celebrate these places for what they are.

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