Do you know your orchard heritage?

Lack of space need not be an issue thanks to dwarfing rootstocks and the ability of apple trees to perform well in containers.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 15th October 2016, 1:34 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 3:54 pm
Do you know your heritage apple varieties?
Do you know your heritage apple varieties?

For example, a family tree grafted with three different apple types will thrive in a large pot, providing you use a soil-based compost enriched with organic matter, and ensure it never dries out. Such trees cost more, but you are getting variety.

A specimen on the M27 dwarfing rootstock that I planted 10 years ago carries three apple cultivars – Discovery, James Grieve and Reverend W Wilks. These offer continuity of fruit from late August until the end of October.

Three key culinary varieties – Howgate Wonder, Lord Derby and Crimson Bramley – store well for winter. Where possible I grow self-fertile varieties.

When two different cultivars are flowering together it helps boost the crop. Even a tree blooming in a neighbouring garden helps. So-called triploid varieties, and Bramley’s is one, need two others flowering alongside. This is a good reason for having at least one ornamental crab apple with extended flowering period.

I was discussing this fruit with Trevor Jones, head gardener at The Alnwick Garden, and he agreed that I could pick one of each variety to organise an apple photo-call. This comprises TAG heritage varieties, plus a few from Tom’s modest collection – 20 in all. Some are large, others small, but they’re at their best right now and worth a visit.

The apples: 1 Lady’s Finger of Lancaster; 2 Dog’s Snout; 3 Keswick Codlin; 4 Cockpit Improved; 5 Lady Henniker; 6 Early Victoria (aka Emneth Early); 7 Golden Nugget; 8 Worcester Pearmain; 9 Balsam; 10 Herrings Pippin; 11 Isaac Newton’s Tree; 12 Winston; 13 Brownlees Russet; 14 Discovery; 15 James Grieve; 16 Braeburn; 17 Howgate Wonder; 18 Lord Derby; 19 Scarlet Bramley; 20 Redlove.