A slice of autumn as visitors enjoy apple weekend

Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October, Furzey Gardens celebrated our second Apple Weekend. We were delighted to see lots of visitors enjoying lots of apple themed activities. Volunteer Jane Pownall takes up the story.

Once again the sun shone for us over the whole weekend whilst we celebrated our Apple Weekend at Furzey Gardens.

The setting was perfect with a backdrop of beautiful Autumn colours throughout the garden.

It was wonderful to welcome back Chris Bird and his team from Sparsholt College with their astounding selection of apple varieties: Fifty different types of fruit, plucked from the Plant Heritage Collection of Hampshire and Isle of Wight apples. It’s a real revelation to see the different shapes, sizes and colours of all the apple types and a joy to sample the unique tastes.

There was an apple juicing stall all over the two days, with friendly staff from Minstead Trust on hand to guide visitors through the process. Plenty of visitors brought their own bags of fruit to press into a few bottles of fresh juice.

Our volunteers stepped in to run lots of family friendly activities:

You were invited to “Knock the maggot out of the apple” in Heather’s homemade version of a coconut shy! This clever activity was busy all day with children having fun with little adult interference!

The Autumn crowns were really popular. The Minstead Study Centre kindly cut 400 withies from within their grounds and donated them for this purpose. Children were shown how to weave two willow wands together into a circlet then encouraged to decorate them with foliage. Many adults were tempted to wear them as well!

Some while back I had been given a mechanical apple peeler as a gift so we decided to introduce a competition to challenge you to “Create the Longest Peel.” An apple was skewered onto a central spike, then the handle was turned slowly to produce a delicate, spiralling peel. If done carefully, the peel could reach an incredible two metres in length. Meanwhile the flesh of the apple was sliced into a beautiful beehive shape which proved to be an enticing healthy snack.

The misshapen fruits were turned into “Apple Creatures” with the addition of natural materials for eyes, noses, antennae, and any number of weird and wonderful appendages.

Various villagers sold their wares at the miniature maker’s market. They also demonstrated how to spin wool and how to weave on a peg loom. It was delightful to showcase such distinctive produce from the New Forest Marque.

There were so many smiley faces throughout the day. Those enjoying the delicious apple cakes in the café and others simply enjoying a gentle afternoon walk. No-forx-given were also on hand to provide visitors with some tasty Mexican Street food from their quirky horsebox kiosk.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who gave up their time to make the event a huge success. One young man came up to me as he was leaving and said “I never knew apples could be so interesting!”

That for me spoke of sweet success as the aim of the day had been to celebrate harvest season, community and the ripening of our orchards.

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