Chris McCully

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Last of the Chateau Hopeless

Friday, 2 November 2018 at 09:02

Last few grapes When I designed, constructed and planted the garden I had only two principles: (almost) anything I grew either (a) had to be edible in some way or (b) had to benefit wildlife. Four years on, the results have been staggering: nearly twenty different species of bird in the plot, and flourishing populations of butterflies, bees and insects. There have been pests, too, but generally my interventions with poisons or packets have been limited. The garden now seems very settled. It does what it was designed to do and that in turn gives us great and abiding joy.

The principles, such as they are, show nowhere more clearly than on the vines. This past summer, for all its climatic worries, has been good for fruit and I grew two spectacular vines which duly bore grapes. The grapes were perfectly edible but they were fairly small and...not bitter, exactly, but lacking in final sweetness. I left the grapes on the vines and the blackbirds (three pairs) have had a splendid, bountiful time stripping the stalks of their fruit. These birds have also become wonderfully tame - or perhaps are merely sozzled - on the last of the Chateau Hopeless.

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