In the spring of 2013 a group of people started digging holes in our local park. We didn’t see them do it. Whenever we went back, something had changed. More holes appeared. On one visit we found heaps of compost and stacks of wooden stakes. Then trees began to appear in the holes. Eventually there were four straight rows of trees, all carefully staked and evenly spaced. More time passed and little wooden posts started to appear in front of each tree with plaques giving it’s location in the orchard, information about the type of tree it was and when the fruit would be ready for harvest.
Eventually an information board appeared telling anyone who was interested that this was Incredible Edible, North Hampshire. A community orchard planted and maintained by volunteers for the benefit of the local community. The half-dozen paragraphs of text and the colour-coded map of the orchard gave you all the information you could want and, if you felt you needed more, there was a QR code and a web address. Brilliant!
When I looked down the list of trees, I got a shiver of excitement. One of them was called Ernie’s Russet. I headed across the field to find tree location B3.
There was a sturdy little apple tree with another information plaque in front of it. This told me that Ernie’s Russet was a desert apple, ready for harvest in mid September. “So what?” I hear you ask? Well, Ernie was the name of my father-in-law. He was a lovely man with a very sweet tooth. His favourite part of any meal was pudding.
The idea of a ‘desert’ apple tree with his name was brilliant. His children were born at the end of August and the beginning of September – the tree was even close to his own personal ‘harvest’ time. Since then I’ve been watching the orchard with interest. At irregular intervals I’ve taken photos for my partner so she can see how Ernie Tree is coming on. It has been a heartwarming experience.
I have built up a small collection of photographs of the tree, taken over a period of several months. It now feels like a project. I plan to shall share the photos I have taken this spring so you can see the progress the tree has made. I will keep taking photos so that , hopefully, you will eventually see a harvested russet apple. In the meantime, here is the first photo I took of Ernie Tree.
This week would have been my father-in-law’s birthday. It would also have been his & Mamie’s wedding anniversary. Sunday will be Father’s Day. So, to mark these occasions, here is a picture of the man I called ‘Super-Ern’. Fancy an apple crumble, Ernie? More custard?