A basketful of cherries
photo: Wratislaviae Amici /

A basketful of cherries

A long time ago, we came into possession, somewhat underhandedly to be honest, of Ewa’s parents’ allotment garden. We kind of gate-crashed there, for we thought that if we just snatched a small patch of that plot, we would farm it. Well, farming was not exactly what we did there, but it became a site of our gardening practice. We had some success with it. So, there was a bunch of fruit trees in that garden, and unlike many other gardens in Wrocław, that one had a pre-war history. The outlines of our allotment were exactly the same as what the pre-war designer laid down. The posts were placed precisely where the old demarcation lines ran. The trees were scattered all over the place, some of them definitely too close to the fence. Because of that the fruit did not necessarily drop where the owner could fancy. We were getting on ok with the neighbours, only that the neighbour made a fuss about the cherry tree stooping over a patch of his ground; and it was a bountiful cherry tree – there’s no such species now. The worms were properly big, too. I had an idea to cut off those branches. But not to come out empty-handed from this cutting, we needed to wait until they bore fruit, cut them off with cherries and then pick them neatly down to the very last one. In our garden, of course. And that’s what we did.

So, one day we sit in the garden, bent over those cut-off branches, picking the cherries, and we see one of the other allotment-owners from the area coming along with an elderly couple, explaining something to them and pointing towards our garden. It turned out that the couple were Germans who had come on a sentimental journey to Wrocław and longed to see the garden their parents had tilled before the war. It wasn’t actually the best timing, with us just busy picking those cherries. And it was kind of awkward with the cut-off boughs stacked on the ground. And, indeed, the first thing they asked about was whether we always picked the fruit by cutting off branches. I explained the situation, saying that the tree was just too big and needed some trimming. And that simply coincided with fruit-bearing.

Then they told us that their parents, who had set up this garden, were workers and far less than affluent people. They used to spend all their days off, holidays with the family, in that garden. They’d never gone away. The gardens had thriven, there’d also been a meadow of sorts, and a kind of gear rental, as well as some tea house, where one could hold a “Geburtstag” party, if needed.

We talked very pleasantly for some time, and then they went away. As a good-bye, our young daughter sped up to them because somehow it hadn’t occurred to us earlier to give them something from the garden. So off she ran with a basket full of cherries, and luscious cherries they were. The lady came back with that basket to say thank-you again, and she looked at those cherries and cried her eyes out over them. It was really moving because they’d first thought that it was some peculiar Polish manner, some odd custom to cut off tree boughs like that. And later we turned out to be similarly minded people after all. Our allotment did not come from any kind of wealth either. It was in the Huby borough; the place was called Rodzinne Ogródki Działkowe Bajki [Fables Family Allotment Gardens]. Specifically, the Tulips sector. Located between Borowska and Ślężna Streets. The allotments are still there today.


Leon Rapacz


Prunus avium L.


Rodzinne Ogródki Działkowe Bajki [Fables Family Allotment Gardens]

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