Thursday, 17 November 2011


There was a seed exchange at the latest Gloucestershire Organic Gardening Group's meeting at Whiteway Colony Hall: I forgot to take the ones I'd set aside, but nevertheless came back with full pockets.

Local orchardist, Martin Hayes was the speaker, though it was not so much a lecture, more a tasting - of a wide variety of apple juices, not to mention cider and perry - with aphorisms.

Martin's enthusiasm, born of 38 years' experience, is palpable. He describes vividly his falling out with an early boss (still alive "because well-pickled by spray"), and meeting two long-term partners in an orchard, "by one of whom I had a lovely daughter". "Don't spray," he urged us, "or you'll never stop. If there's a maggot in there, it proves it's a nice apple. There's always juicing." And "Yes, I do hug trees, but only to measure their age. After all, perry pears flourish for 300 years." Why does Gloucestershire have so many perry orchards - or used to? "Because God went to the top of May Hill, took a bite of a perry pear, and spat it out."

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