The orchard stands on 2.5 acres of West Norfolk fenland on the banks of the River Great Ouse and adjoining the busy A10 road, between the villages of Southery and Brandon Creek.
There are approximately 70 fruit and nut trees that have been planted over the last 20 years and a large kitchen gardem specialising in soft fruit grown for the preserves.
A mobile coop is home to about 40 chickens who are able to roam freely around the orchard and there are also several hives of bees .
Below is a more detailed guide to the life of the orchard:
The Covenham House Orchard Year
January - It’s marmalade time. As Seville oranges are available at the market for only a few short weeks it is a busy time. I make a choice of fine shred or chunky hand cut Seville marmalade and also flavour some with ginger or whisky for a special treat, Other marmalades available throughout the year include Sweet Pink Grapefruit and Zingy Lime & Lemon.
February - once the nights get lighter our chickens start to lay again after their winter break.
May - Rhubarb is the first crop of the year, some goes into jams flavoured with either ginger or vanilla and some is preserved in orange liqueur syrup.
June - Strawberries in abundance for the traditional strawberry jam and also strawberry dessert syrup. June is also the month to pick some walnuts from our huge tree ready for picking.
July - all the currants will be ripe. Redcurrant jelly is the traditional accompaniment to roast lamb of course. Blackcurrant and Liquorice Conserve was one of our best sellers last year and my first batch of Whitecurrant and Rose Petal Seedless Jam sold out very quickly. Cherries will also be ready, provided I can beat the birds to them. We grown 6 different varieties in the orchard, most will go into jam but the big dark Norfolk heritage varieties will be preserved whole in brandy syrup. There should also be some gooseberries that I mix with elderflowers to make a variation on the traditional jam.
August - our various plum trees should start to bear fruit to go into jam and also (combined with apples, pears and greengages) into our signature Sweet Orchard Chutney. And the fun of foraging for blackberries starts - a 2 minute walk down the riverbank from Covenham House takes me to a lovely patch of bushes, Some of the berries go into a traditional jam with our Bramley apples, others are juiced for Bramble Jelly (with a dash of Sloe Gin in every jar) and the rest are mixed with damsons, greengages, apples & any other fruit i can find locally to make one of our most popular varieties - Norfolk Hedgerow Jam.
September - apples are used as an accompaniment in several recipes but come to the fore in Caramel Apple Syrup and Spiced Apple Jelly, which always incorporates at least 4 varieties for a great depth of flavour. Pears are lovely preserved in Raspberry Syrup made with our autumn fruiting raspberries, which of course also make lots and lots of raspberry jam. There are also a few peach, nectarine and apricot trees that will hopefully be fruiting by now, the stone fruits are delicious preserved in either honey or a brandy syrup. And our nut trees should be dropping walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts.
October - as the harvest draws to its close it is time to make Christmas cakes, using dried fruit but also incorporating our home grown cherries, apples, peaches and pears and almonds, hazelnurs and walnuts from the orchard all soaked in brandy & sherry for several days and matured so that the cakes will be deliciously tasty and moist by Christmas. A selection of cakes will be available to view from early November at Covenham House , at a number of local craft fairs and events and here at our online cake shop.