No it’s not a weekend of Beatles music (not a bad idea though), nor is it a celebration of various new and nifty electronic gadgets...
Apple day is in fact an annual celebration held in the UK every October, and although it seems like a tradition dating way back to the dark ages’ (the era when people chased cheeses down a hill, chucked annoying people into peat-bogs, and watched ‘Opportunity Knocks’), this celebration actually got off the ground as recently as 1990. It was an idea by the charity and lobby group Common Ground.
Common Ground wanted to create a celebration to promote 'British distinctiveness', so they settled on the humble old British apple; Yes that crunchy thing that keeps the doctor away. The apple is a symbol to Common Ground of local foods, and their impact on community and landscape. In fact, one of Common Ground's posters stated 'The apple you eat is the landscape you create'. Deep.
Anyway, here at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens we use our old (very old) apple varieties during apple celebration days in order to mark our substantial harvest at this time of the year, and to check if our visitors' taste-buds are still working. Can you appreciate real apples after spending years munching polished, blemish-free, watery, tasteless supermarket dross? Are you tired of eating apple pies with spray-on green wallpaper paste inside? Then come to our Apple Weekend and sample some real flavour.
You may not know this, but us folks at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens were born rebels, so instead of having one Apple Day, we're having an APPLE WEEKEND on Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th October. What's more visitors who buy a ticket on Saturday can also come back on Sunday at no extra cost. Is there no end to this madness?
Here's what's happening:
On Saturday there's a contemplative sedate feel to things (unlike the rather severe 'Static Displays Only' announcement on our notices and posters): Visitors can have a darn good look around our gardens to absorb the history, colour, and beauty of this hidden gem of a place. You might even get shown around if you ask one of our friendly volunteers!
Our Green House will be displaying loads of heritage variety apples from our own and other orchards, and a tame garden expert will be on hand to explain how they are cultivated.
There's time to pause and reflect on such evocative apple variety names as: Colonel Vaughan, Cornish Aromatic, Golden Pippin, Nonpareil, Margil, Catshead, Calville D Hiver, Crimson Queening, Old Pearmain, and Coeur De Boeuf.
Not to be outdone, our heritage vegetables (ranging from the 18th to early 20th Centuries) will also be showing themselves off. These things are packed with flavour too, and what's more you'll all have a chance to buy some of these wonders for own kitchen creations!
Visitors who like things livelier (or have visited on Saturday and want to get another visit in at no extra cost) will love what's happening on Sunday.
First off, we'll be pressing some of our apples into juice so that you can sample their fine flavour at first hand. They'll also be lots of old-fashioned garden activities will be played on the Archery Lawn. The list of names alone turns back the clock: snap apple, apple printing, an apple themed hunt (for the kids) and willow crown making.
We’ll also be selling home-made pies and cakes busting with such flavour and quality that Mr. Kipling will go home weeping. Yes, these fine comestibles will be made using our apples as the main ingredient!
If you enjoy choreography with your fruit, then the fabulous Glorishears of Brummagem will perform Molly Dancing at certain set times throughout the day. By the way did you know that an ex-Lady Mayoress of Birmingham is a long time member of this troupe? Isn’t the internet wonderful?!
Those you are who are regular visitors to Castle Bromwich will know that wild birds of prey patrol the local skyline ensuring that the local rodent population stays in constant terror. It’s not easy getting to see birds of prey at very close quarters though (unless you are a mouse with milliseconds left to live), but on Sunday you’ll be able to do just that as we’re playing host to a falconry exhibition.
These birds are magnificent examples of native wildlife, and are well worth the price of admission just to see and discover more about these amazing creatures.
We have more: The amazingly talented West Midlands Woodturners will be turning (sorry) up and dropping the jaws of all visitors with their skill, whilst those who want some more wildlife can visit our local beekeeper for the latest on what’s happening to our native bee population. This is a subject that should concern us all.
Speaking of concern (especially to the adults), our almost traditional longest apple peel competition will be held as usual. All adults can enter, but be warned - The standard is high - the competition lethal - so you'd better whip out your peeler and start practising!
Our Apple Weekend has something for everyone, and you owe it to yourself to come and see this palace of horticultural splendours. Full details are available from here.
You'll be so thrilled you may have to be restrained!
Do you have some spare time to help us out over the weekend as a volunteer? Then please do so! Contact us for full details. Free bar of gold bullion for every volunteer – sorry did I say gold bullion? I meant a resounding heart-felt thank you and possibly a free cuppa.
See you there!
Text and photographs by Graham High 2014. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.