As we’re having very British weather today (i.e. there’s a lot of it), I thought I would hark back to sunnier times. Back in April, after visiting Tamar Grow Local, I left Simon to get back to work and went to visit the National Trust garden at Cotehele.
There’s a lovely pond in the Upper Garden, and it was tadpole time, but the main reason I had come to see Cotehele was the Mother Orchard.
Gathered here is a group of local apple varieties that grow well in the south west of England (and some of which struggle to grow anywhere else). It’s a field genebank, with varieties stored as plants in the ground (compared to a seed bank, where they’re frozen in time as seeds). The trees here can be used for propagation and spread elsewhere (Tamar Grow Local already have some in their orchard).
The Mother Orchard is an immense field, filled with young trees and mown by a robot lawn mower called Gordon.
When I visited, the trees had their branches tied down – they’re being trained into a Delayed Open Goblet shape.
Cotehele has been a working garden for a long time, and as well as the Mother Orchard there is an old orchard of beautiful, lichen-covered and mistletoe-bearing apple trees.
There’s plenty more to see at Cotehele, but this was the last visit of my Cornwall trip and my legs had given up the ghost ;) There’s a valley garden that I didn’t go far down into, as I wouldn’t have made it back up. You can see the house or have a meal, and your ticket includes the shuttle bus down to Cotehele Quay (which I’d already seen with Simon) and up to the old mill.