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An apple a day, at National Trust Beningbrough Hall

When you hear the names Emperor Alexander, Catshead or Five Crowns you could be forgiven for thinking they were the opposing sides in a great historic battle. In fact they are some of the varieties of apple grown in the walled garden at Beningbrough.

AN APPLE A DAY…

Keeping to tradition the 2-acre kitchen garden has over 50 fruit trees formally trained into pyramid, espaliers, cordons and fans to maximise light and warmth from the surrounding walls. Many of these are apples but in among are pears, plums and figs and in the green house there is even a peach and apricot. Beyond the walls is a more traditional orchard where the trees are not shaped and will be left to reach full size.

Maintaining the walled garden is no quick task and regular work is needed from the gardeners and volunteer team. The fruit trees are pruned in both summer and winter to help keep their ornamental shapes and optimise how much fruit they produce. Blossom time is key and this spring, despite what else was happening, the warm weather meant plenty of blossom so lots of opportunities for pollination. This has led to a bumper crop of apples.

Some names, like the afore mentioned Catshead are descriptive of what to expect – the apple really does take on the shape of a cat’s head. Others give clues of their origin including local favourites Yorkshire Greening and Ribston Pippin. Ribston Pippin was found in the gardens of Ribston Hall in our very own Knaresborough and is said to be the apple with the highest vitamin C content, so if you’re going to have one a day, it’s a good one to pick.

WHAT TO DO WITH A BOUNTIFUL HARVEST

Like much of the harvest from our walled garden, the first port of call for our apples is the kitchen where the team will use them in the day’s cooking to serve in the walled garden restaurant. We’ve seen apples in scones, sausages, sausage rolls, cakes and of course the classic crumble. Ours is served with hot custard but just like the great jam first, cream first debate in scone circles, many prefer cream or ice cream.

If you want to have a go at some autumn favourite recipes, pick up one of the National Trust cookbooks in the shop on a visit or have a go at our Beningbrough Apple Crumble recipe.

Now is the perfect time to visit Beningbrough Hall to see the harvest at its most bountiful and some of our other harvest such as some rather large pumpkins taking shape. Be sure to plan your visit and book tickets for guaranteed admission; although walk-ins are welcome mid-week outside of the school holidays.

As ever it’s free entry to National Trust members and under-fives, otherwise £10 per adult and this includes entry to the Saloon Galleries, currently showing the Arts Council Collection exhibition In the moment: the art of wellbeing. Currently Beningbrough is open 10am – 3.30pm Wednesday – Sunday, then Friday – Sunday in November.

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