After the untimely demise of many of the cherry trees over the last year, we suspect down to the unprecedented and prolonged water-logging of last winter’s soil, we have ordered replacement fruit trees, but have gone for apple trees instead, as those are doing well in our soil. The two plum trees we lost are being replaced by more plums, maybe a daft thing but I do like plums.
The varieties we are going for are all to be in the large orchard quarter (‘large’ as they are all half-standard trees that can be grazed by sheep and/or geese beneath), and are as follows:
Plums (St Julien A rootstock)
Czar – Eater/cooker, dark sweet fruits, great for cooking with when young but a lovely late eater if left on the tree to ripen. An excellent attractant and nectar source for bees, according to the RHS.
Oullins Gage – An eater/cooker that is winter hardy and self-fertile (not that that matters here).
Apples (M111 rootstock)
Coul Blush – Possible Britain’s most northerly apple, from Coul in Ross-shire – a good sauce maker due to its creamy soft flesh.
Lady of Wemyss – a cooker – that’s all I really know!
Orkney – another dark horse – it’s a cooker, some say it’s sweet, it’s a triploid. Hopefully we’ll know more in three year’s time!
Oslin – A dessert apple at least 200 years old, but rumoured to have connections to the monks at Arbroath Abbey (its synonym is Arbroath Pippin). – it may even have come from France earlier than that. Crisp, creamy flesh with a sweet, rich aromatic flavour and a hint of aniseed – I’m looking forward to this one! Other synonyms include Original Apple and Original Pippin, due to its alleged ability to root from cuttings.
White Melrose – Raised by the monks of Melrose Abbey in Roxburgh, at least as far back as 1831. Very large and can be used for eating or cooking. Unusual in that it has no pips!
The apples are all Scottish varieties, so should in theory be able to cope with our often cold and frosty springs.
Own-Grafted Apple Trees
We also have apple trees to replace the lost cherry trees in the small orchard, all on MM106 rootstock. These will mostly be our local Newton Wonder variety, of which we grafted 10 last winter. But we will also have two unusual red-fleshed apples from Nigel Deacon, one of the most impressive apple experts I have ever met – a true walking knowledge base. One of these trees is Pendragon, from Cornwall, discovered by James Evans around 1982. The second, a Breunsdorfer, has an interesting story attached to it. It’s an East German variety, almost lost when the orchards it was being grown within were bulldozed to make way for an open-cast mine. Before the bulldozers moved in, a lady visiting the location took an apple home and planted the seeds. Only one seedling produced apples true to type, the lady contacted Nigel Deacon who put her in touch with a friend in Germany who grafted some scions from her tree. The tree was re-grafted and there are now several trees in existence, one of which is at Merrybower in Derbyshire. It’s a seriously nice thought that it’s being given a second chance to survive.
Another addition to the small orchard will be:
Lamb’s Seedling – an old Derbyshire dual-purpose variety.