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Eastgate Larder

May 2019


Jane Steward


Having had dry weather for more weeks than I care to remember, the day of our visit to Jane Steward, founder of Eastgate Larder, turned out to be what cynics might call an old-fashioned English ‘summer’ day. To be honest, though, by the time we arrived we were only exposed to a very light, intermittent drizzle, no restriction to us walking around her six-acre garden.


Jane’s entire enterprise began when she was given her first medlar tree as a wedding present in 2010. Her children then planted two more in December 2012 and in 2017 the original tree produced 12 kg of fruit. In subsequent years more followed and the orchard now contains about a hundred trees of differing medlar varieties. Eventually, Jane hopes to plant even more trees enabling her to source all her medlars from her own orchards. A friend uses Jane’s orchard to keep his beehives, thus creating a symbiotic relationship between bee and tree. She is also planting specimen trees with the ambition of being recognised by the Plant Heritage National Plant Collection Scheme as the national collection of medlar trees, the first in Norfolk. For the first time Jane is having a problem with damage to some of her trees and is unable to find out who or what the culprit might be. Pigeons seem the obvious cause, although none have actually been caught in the act. Some discussion between club members failed to arrive at a definitive solution. 


Before Jane moved to Eastgate House the garden had been an apple orchard. A couple of the original trees, perhaps around 100 years old, still remain. One example, a Bramley, was remarkable in that the apples from one of the boughs were sweet, while the remainder of the tree bore apples of the more normal, sharper, flavor. An expert has examined the tree and has come to the conclusion that the sweet version is an entirely new variety. Apparently, an offshoot formed in this way is known as a ‘sport’. Grafts of the new Sweet Bramley variety have now been taken and at the moment there just two specimens in existence. We saw both of them, about a foot high, in pots.


Bordering the garden on two sides is the woodland walk. Planted in 1976 with 700 trees the walk is very beautiful, but if only the sun had been shining.


Having had an interesting and informative talk we concluded in time-honored fashion by having tea, coffee and homemade cakes, all served in the warm, dry farmhouse kitchen by Jane’s capable helper, Annabel. We couldn’t leave without buying some of Jane’s excellent and unique produce.  


May is a busy month for us and in addition to our monthly visit we were again involved in the Annual Great Hockham Horn Fair. This is the main fundraising event of the year enabling us to keep the subscriptions low and subsidising our monthly speakers and outside visits. On Tombola were Joyce and Margaret (sadly, Val was unable to attend this year). Selling plants were Jane, Liz, Prue, George and Chris. Serving tea, cakes and rolls, all homemade by the members, were, Sue, Lyn, and Mo. But by far the most highly skilled job was handled by Paul and I – washing and drying the never ending flow used crockery. Power and water were kindly provided by Jacqui, Jim, Blue and Bella. All our stalls were supplied and erected by Chris (no relation) and his ‘boys’. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to a very successful event - in spite of the weather.


Our next meeting is on Wednesday 12thJune. This is to Shropham Vicarage Garden, Church Road, Shropham. I’m told it’s somewhere near Shropham church.

































Page Last Updated - 13/05/2019
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