“Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” ( Robert H Schuller)
In The Walled Garden nearly one hundred varieties of apple trees grow, so there are apples a plenty to harvest. Already one ton of freshly picked fruit has been sent to a local producer to be pressed into Gordon Castle apple juice which will be on sale in the shop and served in The Walled Garden Café.
The Potting Shed Shop features a stunning display from russet golden fruits, to shiny reds and vivid greens with names like Stirling Castle, raised in 1820 by nursery man John Christie who kept a toy shop at Causey head near Stirling, Ingrid Marie, a juicy red skinned apple of Danish origins dated 1910, or St Edmunds pippin from 1875, a sweet russet English apple bred in Bury St Edmunds; even winter banana an aromatic sweet apple from Indiana! Each and every apple has a story to tell.
The Walled Garden’s number one apple for 2023 is called ‘Joybells.’ A large fruit with a reddish orange striped green skin and crisp sweet-tart flavour. A dessert apple, with a delicious crunch, it adds a distinctive ‘appleness’ baked into puddings and pies. Raised from seed in the late 1800’s by Robert Lloyd, head gardener at Brookwood Hospital in Woking Surrey and subsequently introduced by William Taylor of Godalming Surrey. Previously known as ‘Lloyd’s Joybells’ this apple won ‘The Award of Merit’ from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1922 but unfortunately there is no record of its parentage. What a happy name! I like to think of patients enjoying freshly picked fruits from the orchard in the hospital grounds.
There is a good crop of pears with up to 500 fruits neatly laid in trays to ripen in the small greenhouse. Pears do not keep well once they are ripe and ready to eat so the café and Potting Shed Shop have a steady supply at present. However the season is a short one as pears unlike apples do not keep over the winter time. They are best enjoyed fresh or turned into preserves, cakes and chutneys.
Ed Bollom, the head gardener has taken delivery of 10,000 spring bulbs; including thirty different tulip varieties such as Angelique pink, Purple Prince and Green Star;
The gardeners will be hard at work planting them into the flower beds and spring pots over the next six weeks. Buried treasure they promising a blaze of colour to greet spring 2024 when it arrives! The flower and vegetable beds must first be stripped out, all goes for composting and then it is down to the planting!!
A prolific crop of pumpkins decorates the café. All weird and wonderful shapes they are for sale in the shop along with a myriad of colourful gourds which; unlike their pumpkin kin; will keep well up to Christmas time and beyond. On the last weekend of October, follow the Halloween trail to find pumpkins hidden in secret places all round the garden!
The Walled Garden Café open weekly, Wednesday to Sunday from 10am till 4pm is planning a seasonal menu!
A new Gordon Castle Walled Garden calendar for 2024 features unusual high quality seasonal garden photographs. There is a limited supply, on sale from the beginning of November.
The potting shed shop has plenty fresh garden produce for sale including the last of the heritage tomatoes, leeks, kale, potatoes, ready to eat pears, an assortment of delicious apples (eaters and cookers). Once frosts arrive there will be parsnips sweetened by that first nip of cold.
We only have a few of our the popular Christmas Wreath making workshops left available for booking.
It is never too early to order a special festive wreath for collection from The Walled Garden here, or take advantage of our pre-made dried wreaths in our shop! There are also still some fresh Autumnal flower bouquets and dried flower bouquets for sale in our shop and potting shed.
The shop is full of luxury products from Gordon Castle’s own range of locally produced jams, chutneys and honey from our own hives, special seed packets to grow your own vegetables or flowers, a cook book of recipes from the Walled Garden.
Buy a bottle of the famous Gordon Castle Gin or Liqueur and save yourself money with refills. Or try making your own at the Gin School – book online.
With fine weather the enduring sun illuminates fiery hued autumn leaves on bush and tree in a walk round the garden, perhaps anticipating an enjoyable meal or tea and cake in the café, then a visit to take a wee bit of the garden home with you from the Potting Shed shop. A day out to enjoy before winter chills set in!
No matter the weather a warm welcome always awaits.
Try some of our delicious Autumn recipes below:
OLD FASHIONED APPLE GINGER
1.35kg (3lb) cooking apples – peeled cored and sliced
85g (3oz) root ginger – peeled and grated
The juice of 2 lemons
1 teacup of water
450g (1lb) granulated sugar
1 level teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
Wash and sterilise up to 10 jars 250 ml capacity. Put the sliced apples, ginger, lemon juice and water into a deep pan bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add the sugar and stir continuously till the mix boils, reduce the heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add chilli if liked. I jar some without chilli and some with to cater for all tastes. Serve with roasts, fish and a tangy cheese. Store in a cool place and use within 2 months. To extend the ‘shelf life’ add 1 teaspoon of citric acid before bottling.
AUTUMN APPLE SPONGE CAKE
Makes a cake 20cm (8in) diameter
Bake at 190C (170C fan) 375 F, Gas 5
3 large eggs
75g (2 ½ oz) caster sugar
30g (1oz) honey
75g (2 ½ oz) self raising flour
20g ( ¾ oz) rolled oats
2 large cooking apples – peeled cored and sliced
Icing to finish:-
Turn on the oven to heat the oil and line the tin. Whisk the eggs, sugar and honey till thick and creamy. Sift in the flour and add the oats. Stir in gently and then pour into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Lay apple slices in overlapping rows over the surface of the sponge and then bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the middle of the oven. Remove from the oven when firm and springy to touch. Cool in the tin. Drizzle with lemon water ice when cool, cut and serve freshly baked.
RUSTIC CIDER APPLE CHEESE SCONES
A quick scone recipe easily made at the last minute.
175g (6oz) self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
45g (1 ½ oz) grated eating apple
45g (1 ½ oz) chopped walnuts
60g (2oz) grated mature cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon salt
60g (2oz) melted butter
1 egg beaten with
Gordon Castle cider to mix
Handful of rolled oats
Turn on the oven to heat at 200C (180C fan) 400F, Gas 6. Oil and line a baking tray. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the apple, walnuts, cheese and a small handful of oats and mix together. Stir in the melted butter then stir in the egg with enough cider to make a soft, elastic dough. Flour the baking tray and turn the scone mix out onto the middle of it. Dust with flour and pat out to a round approx 2.5cm (1in) thick. Mark into 8 wedges with the blade of a knife. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes till risen and golden. Cool on the tray. Cut into wedges and eat warm and freshly baked.
FUDGEY CHOCOLATE PEAR CAKE
115g (4oz) margarine or butter
115g (40z) soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
140g (5oz) self raising flour
30g (1oz) cocoa powder
2 eggs – beaten
2 pears – peeled, cored and chopped
Turn on the oven at 180C (160C fan) 350F, Gas 4. Oil and line a square baking tin20cm (8in). Cream the margarine, sugar and syrup till light, beat in the eggs and then fold in the sifted flour, cocoa and chopped pears. Pour into the prepared tin, even the top of the cake, tap the base of the tin on a hard surface to remove any trapped air. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes till risen and firm and the point of a skewer inserted in the middle comes out cleanly. Cool in the tin. Serve warm with cream or ice cream as a dessert, or cold dredged with vanilla sugar as an afternoon tea cake.
PEAR AND GINGER CRUNCH
Makes a tray
85g (3oz) rolled oats
175g (6oz) self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
150g (5oz) margarine
115g (4oz) soft brown sugar
115g (4oz) chopped pears
60g (2oz) margarine
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon ginger
115g (4oz) icing sugar
Turn on the oven at 160C (140C fan) 325F, Gas 3. Oil the baking tin. Cream the margarine and sugar till soft and fluffy, stir in the other ingredients and spread evenly in the prepared tin. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes till firm and golden. Leave to cool while you make the topping. Put all the topping ingredients into a pan and heat over a medium heat stirring till the mixture boils. Remove from the heat, cool a little then pour over the base. Spread evenly and allow to cool and set. Cut into fingers and serve. Store in an airtight container.