Sprinkling Fairy Dust on the roots of a damson tree as I plant it in Keswick; the box is labelled “Rooting fertiliser”. Geologically, this part of Keswick is elevated on a drumlin, a hard piece of rock that resisted the erosion of the glaciers; consequently, there’s lots of fertile topsoil but also plenty of small rocks left behind by the glacier or brought down by the meltwater. So it took a while to dig the hole. But it wasn’t long before the Cumbrian weather watered in the new arrival and its leaves perked up in response.
This tree is the Farleigh variety that has been cultivated in England since the early 19th century and is known for its hardiness and heavy crops of fruit. The local Westmorland damson has been recovered from near-extinction and is popular in the many orchards in the Lyth Valley in former Westmorland. However, Westmorland damson is not widely available from commercial nurseries.