Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A very special walnut tree

I received a very special gift the other day from a Dutch nurseryman, Ton Friesen, who visited Chesters Walled Garden last summer. We have a rather fine walnut tree in the garden which amongst other things I will be very sad to leave, but Ton has given me a tree for the future, a walnut that he has bred which produces nuts very early on in its life. We had to wait 20 years for the tree in the walled garden to start producing nuts!

At Ton's nursery, they graft walnut cultivars bred especially for the Dutch and north German climate and so they are probably suitable for northern England too. Their website lists an amazing 33 cultivars of Juglans regia alone. Ton sent me one of their hardier plants, a tree which is grafted and that amazingly takes only two or three years to bear its first nuts. This cultivar is named after the daughter of his friend and colleague, Cess Barnewald and is called Juglans regia 'Chiara'. I met Chiara when she came here with her parents a couple of weeks ago and we all spent a happy hour wandering about the garden. Ton's website is at and he is currently working on an English version of it.

Although we have abundant wildlife at the garden as any follower of my blog will know, one thing we don't often see is a grasshopper. When I was a child there were grasshoppers everywhere in the long grass on the edges of our garden and I loved watching them rubbing their back legs together as they clung to grass stalks. Even on walks I see very few nowadays, so I was very happy to see this one sitting on our old roller. If anyone knows what species it is, I'd like to know!

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