Gardening in the snow is unusual for most people, but not for those who are paid to do it every day, pre-dawn to post-dusk. I have discovered recently that it can be better to work outside in sub-zero temperatures than to do garden-related things inside. At some point yesterday I found myself tidying the potting shed, which
looked as though it had just been tidied. As I swept out a further shed
my attention began to wander... and I found myself behind the buidings
in an ancient orchard. I knew of its existence but had never seen it before; it's a little
out of the way.
There are apples and pears and plums and it's hard to
tell what else but it's guaranteed that they are good varieties which have done a lot of giving over the
years. The bottom half of each tree is stoutly goblet-shaped, pruned in
exemplary fashion. The top halves are wild and gnarled in a mass of dark twigs, looking very dormant indeed. Each branch supports a national collection of
lichen and moss, with ivy
spiralling around. The place is not completely abandoned: the grass is strimmed but the trees have not been tended for years.
The orchard is only a field or two from the big house but far enough away to be forgotten. The parasites growing all
over the once-perfect wood may not survive a planned pruning. For now, we are all in the middle of nowhere, in
the middle of winter.