The printed catalogue is now 'out of print' and a new one is being prepared, though it will take time. We think it should be worth the wait. Meanwhile, please rely upon the website, which will have new additions gradually added. In order to save the effort of seeing what has been added by wading through the lists, we are adding a gradually increasing list of 'additions' below. Even adding the additions will take time, so please keep returning!

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Apple
Acme
Alabaster
Aldbrough Dog's Snout
Allgrove's Purple Crab
Beauty of Wiltshire
Belle et Bonne
Blanc-Dureau
Brittle Sweet
Cats and Dogs
Coe's Golden Drop
Croxdale Crab
Dean's Codlin

Domine
Drap D'Or
East Ayton Early
Englische Spitalrenette

Harry Sissen's Yellow
Improved Keswick Codlin
Jim Bacon Apple

King David
Otmoor Reserve
Pomme Grise
Saint John's Pippin
Samter Umbrella Tree
Studley Gold
Sutton Sunset

Pear
Endicott Pear

Windsor

Plum
Blue Impératrice

Kea
Mirabelle de Metz
Old Duchy Gage
Saint Martin
Medlar- Stoneless
Cherry- Amber
Early Purple Guigne
Yellow Spanish

Fig- Desert King

Grape
Black Corinth

Black Morocco
Golden Champion
July Muscat
Mrs Pince's Black Muscat
Sweetwater
Tressot Panaché

 

APPLES

ACME Raised by Seabrook and Sons of Boreham, Essex in 1944, as a cross of Worcester Pearmain x Rival, and then possibly crossed with Cox’s Orange Pippin. A middle to late season, medium size, sometimes large dessert apple, also widely grown in the USA and France. Flat to round with yellow skin, blushed pink and striped with scarlet, sometimes with a little russet. The flesh is firm, juicy, cream, sweet and with a rich fragrance. It has been said to store to January or February but in December it loses much of its flavour, though it stays in a firm and juicy condition. An attractive and regularly formed apple which crops well. Good.

 

ALABASTER A lovely and attractive white apple that appears to have first been known in Germany and is probably very old. The only known historical reference in England was in the report of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Apple and Pear Conference, held at Crystal Palace in 1934, when it was sent from Oxfordshire. It was described as a large, red streaked, middle season, dual purpose apple, with a flat shape, lasting to November. We discovered an apple of this name in the Nick Botner collection in Oregon and he sent us scions to graft new trees here, early in the new millennium. Though the fruit here is more medium sized than large, and the red streaks are few, the rest of the characteristics are in accord. The skin is mostly very pale, punctuated with prominent lenticels, and the flesh is also very pale. It is ripe in late September, and juicy, sweet and very richly flavoured. It retains these qualities into mid-November, though the apples are, by then, shrinking slightly. There is an earlier history in Europe and America. Charles Gibb, of Abbotsford, Quebec, undertook the task of cataloguing and renaming hundreds of fruits which had been sent to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture from Russia in 1870. Most of the apples were Russian, though some were originally from elsewhere in Europe, judging by the names given by the Russians. The task was to give the fruits names more palatable to the American public. Gibb’s publication – “The Nomenclature of our Russian Fruits” – from the American Pomological Society’s report of 1887 – revealed that Russia had this apple under the name of Weisser Alabaster, presumably having received it from Germany some years before 1870. Gibb renamed it Alabaster. Pollination Group 4

 
ALDBROUGH DOG’S SNOUT When Jess Young was newly arrived in the village of Aldbrough St. John, a very old settlement near Richmond, North Yorkshire, he took a walk to acquaint himself with the place. He was intrigued by a scruffy old apple tree he discovered just outside of the village, on a lane verge, now public land, though technically still owned by the adjacent farm. The tree was in fruit and Jess sought our views on such a strange apple. A hedge separates the verge from the farm now, the hedge having been moved back 50-60 years ago, according to the farmer John Gill, because the old hedge was on a 90 degree bend, obscuring visibility and deemed dangerous. Mr Gill also reported to Jess Young’s enquiries that he thought the tree might have been donated by a now deceased individual who found it as a young tree about 50-60 years ago. Mr Gill’s father referred to the apple as ‘dog’s snouts’. The tree does appear to be older than that account, but apple trees can be very deceptive and this particular tree has had a cruel life. It has multiple trunks as if the original trunk rotted away and the lower living bark sent up new trunks, but it has received regular trimming from tractor mowers in the past and has re-grown very bushy. It is such an ‘individual’ apple that it is either a very old variety or a chance seedling that has revealed some ancient characteristic. It is certainly worthy of preservation, the apples being of good quality and the tree being an abundant bearer. Jess Young sent us apples and scions and new trees were grafted in 2018. The apples are large, bright green with an amber blush, very long and ribbed, with a waist towards the eye, giving a snouty appearance. The core is large, hollow and with few if any pips. The apple is really rather light and the texture yielding, sweet enough to eat, though sometimes a little sharp, but better cooked, preferably stewed or poached, when it softens fairly quickly and keeps its shape. The acidity is less and it develops a rich lemony flavour. Ripe from late September, it will last to early December but with some shrinkage. We are grateful to Jess Young and John Gill for all their help in the story and for preserving this interesting apple.
 
ALLGROVE’S PURPLE CRAB The old Veitch’s Nursery at Middle Green, Langley, Buckinghamshire, was taken over by the Allgrove family in the mid-20th century and closed at the end of the century, with the passing of Jim Allgrove. When we visited him in 1995, he showed us a purple skinned, red fleshed apple, which he grew, but without a name. When he died, the nursery went wild and names of closely planted trees were lost, but a friend of the family who knew the nursery well, Nick Houston, was able to find a few varieties and he brought us scions to graft. This apple was one. Though we call it a Crab, since it resembles in some ways the Siberian crabs, like Malus Niedzwetzkyana, it obviously has some Malus Domestica in it parentage as it is not a harsh, hard Russian Crab. Ripe in October, the flesh is red throughout, spongy and glistening when cut, from the juiciness. The flavour is sweet, with a little sourness, rather than sharpness. It is a fair eating apple, but not strong in flavour and would serve better in a colourful salad or juiced. The slightly conical, lightly ribbed apples are medium sized to large, with deep carmine glossy skin, overlaid with thin, reddish and mottled russet. The wood has dark coloured bark, with a little red underneath, but the wood is not so red stained as other ‘crabs’ like Niedzwetzkyana. An interesting, if not classic, eating apple but one which has not been fully tested by us yet and which might have merits when cooked. Our new trees have been slow to fruit, so we cannot yet say.
 
BEAUTY OF WILTSHIRE There is much history to this apple – or apples. Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts dates from the middle of the 18th century. Some have considered it a renaming of Harvey’s Pippin (wrongly), which was even older. Then there is Beauty of Wilts, which first appears under this name in 1826. The London Horticultural Society catalogues of 1826 to 1842 consider them to be different. The latter is described (mostly) as green with a red flush, similar to Blenheim Orange and principally for cooking. The former is an eating apple, also useful cooked, and is pale yellow with red spots and flecks. Space does not permit the detailed and fascinating story of the view that was taken of – for and against – Mr Dredge and the confusion with Harvey’s Pippin. Suffice it to say that the record of Beauty of Wilts is patchy, inconsistent and not particularly trustworthy, while the descriptions of Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts are full. Through both confusion and neglect, Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts, Harvey’s Pippin and Beauty of Wilts were all lost in these Isles, in the 19th century. However, an apple called Schöner Von (or Aus) Wiltshire has existed, in plain sight, in Germany ever since its migration there. It is surprising that no-one has thought to bring it back. It is known there with the synonym of Beauty of Wiltshire and though its origin has incorrectly been attributed to John Standish, apple breeder of Ascot, Berkshire, around 1880, it appears to be Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts. It is a medium sized, eating apple, ripe in November, with skin of pale yellow, dotted and streaked with red, and with slightly spicy, sweet and juicy flesh. One of the several authors on Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts, Loudon, in ‘An Encyclopaedia of Gardening’ in 1822, said that it was raised ‘say’ 1750, was about medium size or above, oval, bright yellow, spotted with red, ripe from October to March, firm and juicy, a great bearer and “one of the best apples yet known in point of general utility”. It is well regarded in Germany too. Matthias Buchta of Bavaria kindly sent us scions in 2019, his stock originally from the Julius-Keuhn Institute, and we now have it back where it rightly belongs. Though we call it Beauty of Wiltshire, a direct translation from the Gerrman, it seems to be Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts and not the green, red flushed cooking apple called Beauty of Wilts by others in the past. Dredge’s Nursery at Wishford, Wilts, was highly regarded in the mid 18th century but when the London Horticultural Society classified Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts as being the same as the old Harvey’s Pippin (seemingly wrongly), it encouraged the belief that Dredge was presenting older apples as if they were his own. Hogg (1851) and Scott (1872) both made attacks on the authenticity of Dredge’s work. However, Rogers (1837) said “This apple, as before noticed, has been confounded with Dredge’s Beauty: but the author is certain they are decidedly distinct. The Harvey’s pippin was in existence in this country before Dredge’s time; and as Dredge himself informed the author, above forty years ago, he raised his Beauty and two others from the same sowing, both perfectly different from the Harvey’s pippin.” Even Scott described both Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts and Harvey’s Pippin in his ‘The Orchardist’ of 1872, somewhat differently. The scandal might have led some to drop the ‘Dredge’s’ from the name, or perhaps another Beauty of Wilts came into being – a cooking apple. The apple we now have back seems to be Dredge’s Beauty of Wilts.
 
BELLE ET BONNE Though some American writers consider this an American apple, it existed in Britain before the American colonies began and since there is no known history of this apple in Europe, it must be assumed to be British and probably English. Hogg, in ‘British Pomology’, 1851, says ‘In a notebook in the possession of Sir John Trevelyan, of Nettlecombe, near Taunton, which was kept by one of his ancestors, from the year 1580 to 1584, is an entry of “The names of Apelles, which I had there graffes from Brentmarch, from one Mr Pace”’. This includes ‘Bellabone’. John Parkinson in 1629 said ‘The Belle boon of two sorts winter and summer, both of them good apples, and fair fruit to look on, being yellow and of a meane bignesse.’ While the summer one seems to have been lost, and there might be another apple to consider - a different Belle Bonne – in the old literature, the winter Belle et Bonne has survived in America, though it has passed out of knowledge in Britain. John Evelyn had Belle-et-Bonne in his Kalendarium Hortense of 1669, but he tended to use names a bit randomly. For use in September he has Belle-Bonne, in October he has Belle-Et-Bonne and in November he has Belle-Bonne. Thomas Langford of Dunstable, Bedfordshire, in ‘Plain and Full Instructions to Raise All Sorts of Fruit Trees’ in 1696, listed Belle et Bonne. John Worlidge in his Vinetum Britannicum of 1678 says ‘The Summer Belle and Bon, is a fair Apple, and the Tree a good bearer; but the Fruit is not long-lasting; for a short time it’s a good Table-fruit, and makes indifferent good Cider. The Winter Belle and Bon is much to be preferred to the Summer in every respect.’ He seems to echo Parkinson’s description of Belle Boon. Philip Miller in 1724, in ‘The Gardeners and Florists Dictionary’, in the first edition, includes ‘A Catalogue of Curious Fruits’ which has Belly Bon. Lindley (1831), Scott (1872) and Hogg (1884) also described Belle Bonne similarly. There have been no sightings of it in England since this time. Through all the confusion of the past and sometimes careless literature, there pervades a strong sense that Belle Bonne and Belle et Bonne are the same and a very old English apple, named at a time when French was still widely spoken here. Having been sent scions by the late Nick Botner at the end of the 1990s, we have had time to evaluate this excellent apple. It is ripe at the end of September, is green turning yellow and has red streaks and blushes in the sun, often running down the lines of the ribs on the body. This accords with Lindley’s description. At other times the apples can be just yellow with prominent pale spots, according with Scott’s description. The flesh is crisp, juicy, sweet and really rich, with just the right amount of acid. In a good year it is near perfect. It can be cooked, though it is a bit resistant to softening, unless stored, and it retains its very rich, sweet flavour, becoming a little more tangy and fruity. It will store into the new year. An exceptional apple. Poll 4
 
BLANC-DUREAU This is the ancient French apple, with an extensive history there, believed extinct but rediscovered by Jérôme Munoz, a nurseryman committed, like ourselves, to the reintroduction of ‘lost’ old fruit varieties, for their continued survival. His nursery, Pépin’Hier, is in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, in the south east. The name Pépin’Hier (Yesterday Pippin) is a clever play on the word Pépinière – a fruit tree seller. Blanc-Dureau was probably Norman in origin and possibly the first solid reference to it, curiously enough, was in England. As ‘Blancdurel’, an old document reveals that Queen Eleanor (of Castile), wife of King Edward I, was so fond of the apple that she arranged for fruit and grafts of it to be sent from Paris to the Royal Gardens at King’s Langley, Hertfordshire, in 1280. The old references give it many names, including Blandurel, Blondurel, Blanc-Dure, Blandureau and Blanc-Durel. It is almost certainly the same is the ‘Blandrill’ recorded in Parkinson’s ‘Paradisi in Sole, Paradisus Terrestris’ of 1629. “The Blandrill is a good apple”. John Rea, in his ‘Flora seu de Florum Cultura’ 2nd edition of 1676, included it in a list, without description. Scions kindly provided by Jérôme Munoz in 2019 were grafted here and a few trees only will be available in 2020. Though yet to fruit here, the old descriptions are of a medium sized apple, a little irregular in shape, pale yellow sometimes washed with brownish red in the sun. The flesh is pale, crisp, very juicy, fine, fragrant and with a good balance of sugar and acid. The flavour is rich and it has always been considered of top quality. Dual purpose, it is ripe from November and will store late into the next year, even June according to some sources.
 
 
BRITTLE SWEET While discussing various apples by email with Krystina Hill, who organized and co-ordinated an apple, pear and plum collection in South Island, New Zealand, we found a few gems in her collection lists. She later visited us and our discussions continued. Hans, one of her archivers, had received scions of Brittle Sweet from a friend and it entered her collection. It seemed the only place where this important old American apple could still be found. Its origin in America was unknown according to Andrew Downing in his ‘The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America’ in the 1867 edition. He rated it very highly, among the best and deserving more attention. By 1872 it was in England, with John Scott in Somerset, who wrote of it in almost identical terms to Downing, in his ‘The Orchardist’. Though it was listed as late as 1895, as a name, it does not seem to have been observed since the 1870s. The size is above medium, roundish, approaching conical, pale yellow splashed and marbled with light and dark crimson, and with many small grey and white dots. The stalk is rather short and slender, the cavity regular, broad and moderately deep. The eye is closed, with small segments, often recurved, in a small corrugated basin. The core is rather large and the flesh is yellowish, crisp, tender, juicy and rich, with honeyed sweetness and an aromatic flavour. Ripe in October and November. We have now returned it to America. Our gratitude to Krystina for this, Reinette de Thorn (Torun), Engelsche Bellefleur and others.
 
CATS AND DOGS This interesting and very tasty apple was introduced to us by Andrew Nicolson of Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. He found the sorry-for-itself scrubby tree 5 metres from the railway line at Bradford and Avoncliff and next to the fence of a country lane. He warned us of its impending demise at the hands trackside clearance workers and sent us apples in November 2017 and scionwood the following year, just before and just after the tree had been destroyed. The name of Cats and Dogs, given by Andrew, comes from the thorough drenching he got on a fiercely wet day, while collecting scions. The tree might have been planted by a railway worker, it being common for track workers to be given small allotments along the line, but it might also have arisen from a discarded core. If it once had a single trunk, it had been damaged and lost and when found it had three substantial trunks, one over a metre in girth. There was no sign of a graft line. The line opened in 1857 but there are no reasons to believe the tree predated the opening. The apple itself can be very long, tubular, slightly conical and with a distinct snout. The eye is in a deep knobbed/ribbed basin and is usually open. The stalk short or very short, not that thick, and in a darkly russeted cavity. The matt, waxy, pale yellow skin is liberally sprinkled with prominent russet dots. The new trees have not yet fruited here, so our experience comes from apples sent in November, when they might have been a shade over-ripe, but they were juicy enough, light in texture, pale fleshed, sweet, not sharp, and with a good enough flavour to eat raw, with pleasure. When cooked, the flesh breaks down very quickly indeed to a purée with the flavour much enhanced – sweet, rich and lemony. A very good apple, saved from extinction by Andrew.
 

COE’S GOLDEN DROP A small, richly flavoured dessert apple, which was seemingly raised by Jervaise (or Gervase) Coe, of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, around 1790, though Hogg (1884) suggests it might have been an older variety from the Essex orchards, merely propagated by Coe as being his own. The first formal record was in 1842, when it was in the collection of the London Horticultural Society. The fruit is small and conical, with yellow skin, blushed with crimson in the sun and with a few patches of thin russet. The flesh is crisp and very juicy. ‘A delicious little dessert apple of the first quality', according to Hogg, in season from November to May. Scott, in ‘The Orchardist’ of 1872, described it as being of top quality, golden yellow when ripe, with crimson dots and tracings of delicate russet. He added that the stalk is 1 inch long, inserted in a small russeted basin, the russet spreading over the base. The eye is small and open, set nearly level and surrounded with a few plaits. The flesh is greenish yellow, firm and crisp, with juice abundant, rich, sugary and vinous. The tree is a dwarf upright grower and bears well. The apple was illustrated in the Herefordshire Pomona of 1876-85. Taylor (1946) said that it was faintly blushed brown. Once universally popular this apple was even taken to Australia. It was included in the Royal Society of Van Dieman’s Land 1855 list of fruits, growing in the Society’s gardens. Van Dieman’s Land was the early name for Tasmania, the name changing in 1856. Many old English apples and other fruits were taken to Australia by early settlers and the spelling of the apples and pears in this list suggests they were in Australia, under early spellings, at the start of the 19th century. For example, Beachamwell was spelt Beauchampwell, the earlier name that had been replaced by the 1830s. In modern times there is some uncertainty about the authenticity of this apple in some collections. It was withdrawn from the National Collection at the start of the 21st century, perhaps under the assumption that it was falsely named. It does not appear to have been in the National Fruit Trials at the time of the National Apple Register but was in the collection in 1960, when material was donated to the US Department of Agriculture collection at Geneva, New York. They still have it, but their example shows a more rounded and flattened form than the conical apple illustrated in the Herefordshire Pomona and described in the 19th century. It is still held at RHS Wisley, whose example is more conical and closer in appearance to old descriptions. Our apple came from America and matches old descriptions, though our soil produces more red streaks and less russet. A very good apple.
 

CROXDALE CRAB Croxdale Hall and Estate, just south of Durham City, dates from the 15th century or earlier. There is a 12th century church in the grounds. In open pasture called North Park is the most magnicifent and very, very old apple tree. It is probably a crab, though the young growth and foliage are not typical and it might have some mixed parentage with Malus Domestica. We have not seen the mature fruit, but we include it here because of the tree and not the fruit. Public access is available and Denis Gregson, an Arboricultural Officer with a local council and a great lover of trees visited it regularly over many years and told us of it, sending photos and cuttings to graft here. The size is immense, the trunk is hollow, heavily knarled and open in part, so one can see right through it. The girth is perhaps the greatest we have come across. In Spring it is a mass of blossom. A truly impressive tree of antiquity and mystery and we look forward to learning more of its fruit, though the tree itself is the star. Our thanks are due to Denis Gregson for this and reports of other apple trees.

 
DEAN'S CODLIN A large cooking apple, known in the first half of the 19th century and described by Hogg in the 5th edition of his ‘The Fruit Manual’ (1884) as “a first-rate kitchen apple”. It was introduced by nurseryman, Mr W. Deans, of Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland. A very large fruit, slightly taller than wide, with prominent ribs on the sides, which form ridges around the eye. The skin is deep yellow, dotted with large russet specks. The flesh is yellowish, 'tender and pleasantly flavoured'. It is in season throughout winter, until February. Barron, the author of the report of the National Apple Congress, at Chiswick, in 1883, assumed that samples exhibited from two sources as Deans’ Codlin, were the same as Potts’ Seedling. His judgements were sometimes questionable. Deans’ Codlin was next noted in England, when exhibited from France at the 1934 Apple and Pear Conference, at Wisley. There do not appear to be any records of it having been grown in Britain since the 19th century, but it still existed in collections in Switzerland and Romania. In 2019 we received scions from Matthias Buchta, in Bavaria, Germany, and it is now back in Britain.
 
 
DOMINE Hogg in his ‘British Pomology’ of 1851 says ‘In a notebook in the possession of Sir John Trevelyan, of Nettlecombe, near Taunton, which was kept by one of his ancestors, from the year 1580 to 1584, is an entry of “The names of Apelles, which I had there graffes from Brentmarch, from one Mr Pace”’. Included in this list is Domine Quo Vadis. The name is of biblical origin and means ‘Lord, where are you going?’ and refers to a meeting between the reincarnated Jesus and the apostle Peter when the latter was fleeing Rome. It seems very likely that this apple is the same as the ‘Donime Couadis’ of Parkinson (1629) who considered it a French apple, though it might have come on a longer journey, from anywhere. Why a literate and knowledgeable man, such as Parkinson, should spell it that way is a mystery. Perhaps, at a time when hostility to Catholics was prevalent, he thought it politic to remove any Papist association. It is also interesting that William Forsyth had an apple called Covadies in a list in 1802 as did nurseryman Mackie, of Norwich, in 1812, and the supplemental list of John Scott, ‘The Orchardist’ (1872) had an apple called Cowdies. It is not uncommon for really old apples to drift in their naming over centuries. Possibly it became known simply as Domine, which has been in America for 200 years and which we received here at the start of the millennium. By 1817, Domine had appeared in America, subsequently acquiring seven synonyms with the word ‘English’ in the name. William Coxe in his “A View of The Cultivation of Fruit Trees” wrote “The Domine’ (our note – the apostrophe would seem to suggest that this name was abbreviated) was imported from England; the tree is remarkably handsome, tall, upright, and spreading, and of luxuriant growth; the fruit is large and fair: the colour a greenish yellow, with a blush towards the blossom end; the stalk is thick and short, planted in a large hollow, as is also the crown – the flesh is firm, juicy, rich, and of a fine flavour. It ripens in October, and bears abundantly.” In 1826 an apple of this name was in the collection catalogue of the London Horticultural Society and also in the 1831 and 1842 editions, but not described in any. In the Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society, 1862-5, it was said to be large, roundish, greenish yellow, with a blush of red and for kitchen use. In America, Elliott (1854) described it and said the origin was unknown, followed by Downing from 1865 to 1876. Warder (1867) said it was supposed to be an American native, but the origin was unknown. Beach (1903) assembled all the prior descriptions and assumed the origin unknown. There is no evidence to suggest it was American. Descriptions vary about the length of the stalk. Coxe’s engraving and description showed a short fat stalk. Elliott described a long slender stalk. Warder’s plate showed a short stalk deeply set, Downing’s line drawing showed a long slender stalk, while Beach’s plate showed a medium length stalk. Otherwise, all the descriptions could be said to be reasonably consistent. Downing doubted that the apple he saw was the same as that known to Coxe, because of the different stalk descriptions. We have noticed that some apples on our trees have short stout stalks in some years and long and slender ones in others. This (and other observations) show the dangers of describing apple anatomy in detail from a single viewing and is a caution to those who accept them. Both Scott (1872) and Hogg (1884) copied the description of Downing, in America, and we repeat the latter here. “Fruit of medium size, flat. Skin lively greenish yellow in the shade, with stripes and splashes of bright red in the sun, and pretty large russet specks. Stalk long and slender, planted in a wide cavity and inclining to one side. Calyx small, in a broad basin, moderately sunk. Flesh white, exceedingly tender and juicy, with a sprightly pleasant, but not high flavour. Young wood of a smooth, lively light brown, and the trees are very hardy, and the most rapid growers and prodigious early bearers that we know – the branches being literally weighed down by the rope-like clusters of fruit.” That is the apple we seem to have with us now. The scions were provided by the late Nick Botner, a truly great collector/conserver and a very rare man. Poll 6

 

 

 

 
DRAP D'OR Or ‘Cloth of Gold’. There appear to be at least three apples of this name, and it is a synonym of others. This is the true Drap D’Or, or Vrai Drap D’Or. It was first recorded with Le Lectier, in France, in 1628, as Drap D’Or de Bretagne, and it has been assumed to have arisen in Brittany. It became confused, as revealed by Duhamel Dumonceau, naming it Vraie Drap D’Or in his ‘Traité des Arbres Fruitiers’in 1768. It had already arrived in England and was in Robert Furber’s Kensington nursery catalogue in 1727. The place in the lists suggests it was ripe in September or October. He listed it as ‘Drab De Or Apple’. It was noted by Thomas Hitt in 1755, and was also in the nursery catalogue of Backhouse of York, in 1816, and noted as a keeping apple. Richard Weston, in 1772, said it “Is large; its skin is like a piece of cloth of gold, from whence comes its name; its juice is good, but its pulp a little woolly, and it is not a long keeping apple; It is esteemed by the curious.” Coxe, in America, records in 1817, that he had obtained it from London. From 1826 to 1842 it was in the collection catalogues of the London Horticultural Society and briefly described as being yellow, roundish, large, for kitchen use, of second quality and “handsome but proves of an inferior quality”. Ronalds, in 1831, said it was a large sauce apple, of oblong shape, even surface, straw-coloured and without any tinge of red, but sprinkled over with small darkish points. He found it juicy but weak in flavour. Others have said it was of top quality. Descriptions followed from Hogg in British Pomology (1851), Scott in his ‘The Orchardist’ (1872), Leroy in his ‘Dictionnaire de Pomologie’ (1873), and Hogg again in ‘The Fruit Manual’ (1884). All are in agreement about its characteristics. Scott described it as large, of top quality and in use from October to January. “Roundish, sometimes oblong; skin smooth, shining, fine pale yellow, interlaced with faint greenish stripes from the base to the apex in the shade, but of a clearer deeper yellow in the sun, the whole marked with patches of delicate brown russet, and sometimes a shade of red, and strewn with numerous russety dots; stalk short, in a wide smooth shallow cavity; eye small, closed, and set in a deep, wide, irregular plaited basin; flesh yellowish white, tender, crisp, and juicy, with a brisk vinous and sugary flavour. The tree is a free and healthy grower, and good bearer, but requires a rich warm soil to bring it to perfection.” Hogg considered it better as a culinary apple than for dessert, and said the tree was free growing and bore early. Leroy considered it of top quality, in France. Though it seems to have disappeared in Britain in the 20th century, it is still listed in the national collections of France, Belgium and Switzerland. This apple is not the Drap D’Or in the National Collection here, or that of the 1883 National Apple Congress. Scions kindly provided by Jérôme Munoz in 2019 were grafted here. His nursery, Pépin’Hier, is in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, in the south east.
 
 

EAST AYTON EARLY In the days before container ships, cold stores and supermarkets, storing apples from local orchards was vital. Very few apple varieties will last into May and those that do would be shunken and tasteless. It was serious matter when the earliest new season apples were some way away. Even more serious was the time when the last year’s cider ran dry. Both cottager and estate needed trees that would produce apples as early in the year as possible. By common consent, in all the old literature, these would have been the Joanetings, though the spelling has changed markedly over the centuries and though they are now called Joanetings, this is surely a corrupted spelling. Bacon, in the early 17th century first noted them, but we have no record of the spelling. Gervaise Markham, in 1613, called them ‘Ieniting’. Parkinson in 1629 had Geneting. Hanmer in 1659 had Janetting. Rea (1665) and Evelyn (1669) had Juniting. The apple(s) have also been called Jenneting, Juneting and Juneating. The name Juneating is noteworthy because some authors have said that they are ripe in June! Rea (1665) says that on a wall they are ripe in the end of June. Batty Langley, in his Pomona 1727 shows a plate of an apple labelled ‘Genetting’ and a date alongside of June 1st 1727. Forsyth and other at the start of the 19th century also confirm the early ripeness, though later writers suggested this was impossible and that the Joanetings then known only ripened at the end of July. Explanation? In 1752 Britain (well behind other European countries) changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Errors had built up over time, under the Julian calendar, and corrections had to be made. 11 days were removed from the calendar to put things back on course. Thus, people went to bed on the 2nd September and woke to find it was then the 14th September. Nobody told the apple trees, which kept their own timing to ripeness. An apple that might have been ripe in late June would now be ripe in July. Cue Judy Trafford who, in 2018, told us about her mature apple tree with the fruit ripe in July. That would be very early for any apple in the Midlands or South of England, but Judy lives at East Ayton, near Scarborough, in North Yorkshire, right against the cold North York Moors. We wondered whether it could be one of the Joanetings and also wondered when it would ripen in warmer parts of the country (as yet untested). Judy sent us the last surving apples at the start of September (early apples do not keep for long) and they were not in their full prime but were still in reasonable condition. Judy reported that they were a little too soft to be enjoyable for eating raw, and perhaps a little bitter, but that they made a delicious sauce, breaking down instantly. We did not find the flavour bitter, but the texture was very melting and soft. The flavour was fair, sweet and pleasantly acid. We expect the flavour would have been better a month earlier. Most apples were pale yellow with red streaks and one which was mostly red had red spots inside the core. They could not be either Red or White Joaneting. Though the Joanetings have been thoroughly confused in the old literature, with almost all writers having something different to say about the naming and which synonyms applied where, there was one called Early Striped Juneating. This might be it. Judy’s house was built in 1952 and she has lived there for 44 years. There were apple trees in neighbours’ gardens and others in her own, planted in lines not consistent with the newer houses and gardens. An earlier orchard seems to have had houses built within. Nearby are farmworkers’ cottages of a much earlier date and the orchard would likely have been the farm’s orchard, where early fruiting varieties would have been highly valued. All these other trees have now gone and East Ayton Early (named by Judy) is the sole survivor. In the 20th century early apples were rarely planted. They did not store well and were usually of lesser quality. The colonies and Europe were beginning to fill the gap with better apples available sooner. Farm orchards could and did make different choices. We wait with keen interest to see the first day of ripening in the South. Our thanks go to Judy Trafford for telling us all about her tree.

 

ENGLISCHE SPITALRENETTE When the 18th century Sykehouse Russet, from the village of Sykehouse in Yorkshire, made the journey to Germany, about 1809, it suffered an error in translation. Sykehouse was taken to mean Sick-House and the apple was introduced in Germany as Englische (English) Spital (Hospital) Renette. With many similar synonyms, it has happily resided there while it became very rare in Britain. In Germany, long aware of the original error, it still goes by the name of Englische Spitalrenette. There has been much debate as to whether the apple Sykehouse Russet still known in Britain (and grown by us) is the correct one. It might also be speculated that the Englische Spitalrenette might equally have become confused with others after 200 years, but it seems to have an equal claim, fully matching the old descriptions in England. In Germany it is described as being a small eating apple, yellow skinned with sometimes a little orange red, and with variable russet. The flesh is cream-coloured, firm, later crumbly, vinous, sweet and with good acidity. Trees are healthy and vigorous. We are grateful to Matthias Buchta of Bavaria for sending us scions in 2019.

 

HARRY SISSEN'S YELLOW Harry Sissen, when a lad, (he is now in his 80s) had a favourite old apple tree in the orchard attached to the farm where he lived at East Cowton, near Northallerton, North Yorkshire. He came to own the farm but moved to a nearby farm and wanted a tree of his ‘favourite’ at his new home, so he grafted a new tree – in 1981. The very old original tree, with three trunks and 10ft before it branched, has now gone - to make way for a tennis court. He sent us apples at the end of October, in 2018, proving it a good eating and culinary apple. It is medium sized, pale yellow when ripe, with prominent spots, lightly ribbed, with a deep, open eye and a stubby stalk. It might be ripe earlier in the South and the apples sent suggested they might be crisper and juicier, if gathered earlier. The apples were sweet and with a strong, rich flavour, with a good balance of acid. When cooked the flesh broke down to a very soft texture, almost to a purée, quite quickly, with the sweetness more pronounced and a very rich flavour, well balanced and with no need for added sugar. Harry says it is a regular cropper with all the fruit of uniform size, though sometimes larger than the ones he sent. A very good apple and, thankfully, preserved by Harry Sissen. Poll 6

 

IMPROVED KESWICK CODLIN An old apple that was thought to have been lost, but we found an old tree in 2006, along with several other important fruits, in the orchard of the late Martin Stevens at Holmer Green in Buckinghamshire. Born in 1920, he was involved with orchards from childhood (as were his father and grandfather) and remembered all the names of his trees and relayed them to us. The origin and age of this apple is uncertain and it is still unknown whether it was a seedling of Keswick Codlin or a mutation. The first known record was when it was exhibited by Harrison Nurseries of Leicester, at the 1883 National Apple Congress, held at the RHS grounds at Chiswick. It was said to be later season, more rounded than Keswick Codlin and pale straw coloured. It was also described as being acid, but that might be due to the early collection of apples for exhibit, as ours is actually quite sweet. Evans and Martin (2014) have suggested the origin to be at Harrowbarrow, Callington, Cornwall, while Thornhayes Nursery have said it was from the Tamar Valley, a little further south, but we do not know what records they draw from or the source of their fruit, which seems a little different from ours. Martin Stevens informed us that his Improved Keswick Codlin was paler, more rounded, lasted longer and was a little larger. That has been our experience here. Ripe at the end of September, when cooked it keeps its shape partially, softens fairly quickly and is very fruity but not so tangy. It is sweet enough without the addition of sugar. By the end of November the apples have become sweet enough to eat raw and stay in good condition. Pollination Group 4

 
JIM BACON APPLE This rather different little apple was heralded to us by Sarah Dray, daughter of Brendan Sellick, a fifth generation ‘Mud-Horse Fisherman’ and the one who remembered the curious name of ‘Jim Bacon Apple’. No-one knows who Jim Bacon was! Sarah lives at Mudhorse Cottage while her father, Brendan, now in his mid- eighties, lives next door –at Stolford, Somerset, where the River Severn estuary opens into the Bristol Channel. Since 1820, Brendan’s family have pushed their mudhorses (an ancient design of sledge that glides over mud) for a mile over the estuary at low tide to collect fish and crustaceans from their nets. Sadly, this family is the last to keep this ancient tradition alive, even worldwide, and Brendan’s son Adrian is the sole practitioner left. When Brendan visited the doctor at nearby Shurton village, he thought he saw a tree of Jim Bacon Apples. He remembered the name from his great grandfather, who had a tree, now gone. That would put the age of this variety around the middle of the 19th century or earlier. It reminded him that he thought there was also a tree of it next door in his son’s garden. Sarah sent us apples in 2017 and scions in 2018, and though we have yet to discover its full nature it is certainly a very ‘individual’ tree. The apples are green to yellow, with a shape variable between conical, round and oblong, with just a hint of ribbing. The apples seen were small to medium sized, but might be larger in other years. In a warm year, apples were ripe in mid-September but would normally ripen a little later. The flesh is very fine, to the point of seeming soft, but they are juicy enough and sweet, with a good flavour. The acidity is enough but not marked. The habit of growth (at least, when young) is rather compact, with a strong tendency to form spurs in profusion on quite a short length of growth, though it is not a weak grower. It looks as if it is very willing to fruit at just two years old. We are very grateful to all the Sellick family and hope the Mud-Horse Fishermen persist and thrive.
 
KING DAVID This is an American apple, but one widely planted in Europe and Australia. It was found in 1893 growing in a fence row at Ben Frost’s farm in Washington County, Arkansaw. It was introduced by the famous nursery of Stark Brothers in 1902 and became a favourite for commercial orchards, being promoted as better all round than the popular ‘Jonathan’. King David is believed to have been from a cross of either Jonathan x Winesap or Jonathan x Arkansaw Black. A medium to large, very good dual purpose apple, which has also been used for cider. The apples are, in some years, almost entirely coloured with dark red. The flesh is crisp, juicy, sweet and quite strongly flavoured; a flavour which becomes even richer with storage. It is ripe in October and will store into the New Year. Poll 5
 
OTMOOR RESERVE Just north of Oxford is the expanse of Otmoor and the small villages that inhabit it. It is a place where hardiness is essential, being exposed, wet and with clay that goes down a long way. Within a nature reserve which covers part of it, is an old apple tree, popular enough for it to be stealthily stripped of fruit, while others wait for it to ripen. The eating apples are about the size of a Cox’s Orange Pippin, very juicy, crisp and with a complex set of flavours. It was described as “delicious” by Peter Ross, of the Beckley Orchard Group who gave us scions from his young tree, to graft here. It is mid to late season and will keep for a month or two.
 
 
POMME GRISE Forsyth tells us, in 1810, that “Pomme Grise, was introduced into this country by Mr. Alexander Barclay, of Brompton, well known for his ingenuity in bleaching of wax. He is a great lover of horticulture, and has raised several new sorts of Gooseberries from seed. This is a fine Apple, from Canada, of a flattish form and russet colour, streaked beautifully with red. It ripens late, and keeps till March. This is an excellent eating Apple.” Bunyard (1920) said that it came to England from Canada in 1794. Downing (1878) thought that it might originally have been French or Swiss, but there are no records in those countries to support it. Hedrich, in America in 1922 said that it had been cultivated more than a century in Canada and “finds greatest favor among the French in the valley of the St. Lawrence”. It might well be French and very old indeed, having been planted along the colonization routes of the French in Canada in the 17th or 18th century. Throughout the 19th century it was known and appreciated for the rich little apple that it is, but it has been unknown here, after Bunyard wrote of it in 1920. It has lived on in America, throughout, and is also now in the Belgian national collection, but not encountered elsewhere. Hogg in 1884 described it as a dessert apple, small, roundish/ovate, with skin covered in rough russet. Underneath the russet it is green in the shade, but orange in the sun. The flesh is tinted yellow, crisp, very juicy and sugary, with a brisk and highly aromatic flavour. The eye is small and open, set in a narrow and shallow basin. The stalk is about half an inch long, inserted in a shallow and small cavity. This is the apple that is known in America and our experience of it, having been sent scions from the collection of the late Nick Botner, in Oregon, in 2001. Apples here are ripe in early October, when they are gently crisp and crunchy, very sweet, richly flavoured with just the right amount of acid and bursting with juice. The skin is covered with broken russet, and it can be a little tough, but not enough to deter the pleasure inside. The apples will store over the winter. Poll 4
 
SAINT JOHN'S PIPPIN In the mid 19th century, well established orchards were close to Oxford city centre, to the north and east. The Victorian and Edwardian expansion in housing took all their space, but left several trees to live on in the gardens of the new houses. Some still exist today. In North Oxford their grid planting can still be plotted, at variance with the lines of the houses and gardens. To the East, few old trees still exist. Just north of the centre, on the edge of the area known as Jericho, where other old fruit trees can be found, scattered around the Victorian gardens, once within orchards but built over to provide housing for university servants, there is a singular old apple tree. It is in the garden of a house built in the 1970s, within an orchard. The owners, John and Diana Ashby, believed the tree to be around 200 years old and in a state of decay. John brought us cuttings to graft new trees for their garden and allotment early in the new millenium and we kept a tree here. Sadly, John died shortly after. The road in which their house was built, in the 1870s, was land owned by St John’s College, Oxford, who owned much of the land at Oxford at that time, and many orchards within it, to supply the colleges and the townsfolk. This particular tree was named by John as Saint John’s Pippin, after the college. The apples are ripe in early October, are medium to large and with skin of pale green, turning pale yellow, delicately flecked with crimson. It is a good eating apple, with crisp, sweet, juicy flesh and also a very good culinary apple, baking well and cooking to a froth. Apart from the nursery catalogue of John Gee, 1891, (later Gee’s Garden Centre on the Banbury Road) little is known of the extent and varieties within these old orchards. It seems to be the case that records are in the libraries of the various colleges that owned land and orchards, and it might prove a rich vein of research in time to come. Saint John’s Pippin was saved just in time, thanks to the enthusiasm and energy of John and Diana Ashby.
 
SAMTER UMBRELLA TREE A lovely and very old variety given to us, along with several other interesting apples and pears, by Susan Samter, formerly of Puddledock Cottage, Frome, Somerset, where this tree grew. The cottage was one of several farm cottages, built for the poor, which date back to the 1770s, but which became derelict in the 1960s. She called her tree ‘Umbrella Tree’ because of the arching habit, like an umbrella. The beautifully painted stripes on the apples are also redolent of some radially decorated parasol. The tree is broad in the trunk and hollow, and the prior owner of the property related to Susan that their grandmother recalled it as an old tree in youth. It would seem to be at least 150 years old, possibly much older. Ripe between late September and early October, the flesh is fine, crisp, juicy, sweet and with a good balance of acid. The flavour is rich and slightly herbal. When cooked, it softens well and keeps its shape, with a rich, sweet flavour, in no need of added sugar. A good and very pretty dual purpose apple that will stay in good condition to the end of the year, though the flavour fades in December. Poll 5
 
STUDLEY GOLD Early in 2018, Linda Sankey, the living in the village of Bremhill, Wiltshire, which was part of Lord Lansdown’s Bowood estate, told us the fascinating story of Studley Gold. Studley is the next village to Bremhill and was once also part of the Bowood estate. Linda’s friend and neighbour, Dawn, had a ‘Studley Gold’ in her garden, now a mature and elegant freestanding tree. Dawn and Bob Straker-Cook kindly sent wood for grafting and apples later in the year. Dawn, having searched hard for a name for this apple had the good fortune to spot a box of these same apples in a charity shop and, as Dawn relates in an article for the local magazine, upon enquiring the person in charge said “Well, my dear, this variety is called Studley D’Or or Studley Gold and was specially cultivated for the Bowood Estate. All the cottages on the Estate were given an apple tree, a plum tree and a pig.” This was in the 19th century, and said to be the gift of an earlier Lord Lansdown. Many of the cottages built in the 19th century have old apple and plum trees in their gardens still, though the pigs have gone. There are said to be other ‘Studley Golds’ in the neighbourhood. The apples are ripe in early to mid October and are normally bigger than those in the photo, some weighing over a pound. Though sweet enough to eat raw, fairly juicy, with fine flesh and a good flavour, they are a little sour for a top quality dessert apple and their real value is in the kitchen. When cooked the flesh softens quickly, keeps its shape and is very rich, fruity and fragrant. Just a little added sugar makes it perfect. Dawn reports that the crops are usually very prolific and she enjoys drying slices and baking and stewing the fruit. She also says that they do not keep particularly well, though we kept the apples she sent to the start of December and they were still good, even after a hot year in 2018. We are very grateful to Linda, Dawn and Bob (and the person in the charity shop) for all their help in revealing another important old variety. Perhaps, in time, the archives of the Bowood Estate might reveal more.
 
SUTTON SUNSET Near Pulborough, in Sussex, is the village of Sutton, where Fiona Wallace rented a house, before moving to Tasmania. She was so struck by a rather unusual apple tree in the garden that she alerted us to it from her new home, having enjoyed the fruit greatly during her tenancy. She told us that the tree flowered deep pink and that the leaves were copper coloured, while the apples were stained deep magenta throughout. We initially thought it was just another seedling of the Russian Crab, Malus Niedzwetskyana, which has red stained wood, deep pink blossom and apples with red flesh. However, her further description marked this tree out as being a bit special. The fruit when young and the size of large marbles already had deep red skin, flesh of deep magenta throughout, but even at this size were quite sweet, which is not typical of Malus Niedzwetskyana progeny, which are sharp, even a little bitter. Later, when the apples of this tree become medium sized they are still sweet and crunchy, good both for eating or cooking. We wrote to the address Fiona gave in the hope that the current owners would respond – and they did. Robert and Avril Southwell were also intrigued by their tree and were very enthusiastic, sending apples and photos. The tree, in the nature of its growth, clearly has a bit of another species of apple in its origin, as well as Niedzwetskyana and the domestic apple, Malus Domestica. The apples which Robert sent in the latter part of September, though not large and the best that were available that year, were very interesting. One was quite red skinned, while others had very broad but vague red stripes, uniformly spaced around, over a translucent pale green. The apples were red fleshed at the core and close to the skin. We found that the flesh could be just a little dry when fully ripe, but were mostly juicy, sweet and with gentle acid. The flavour was rather good for such a strange apple. Avril Southwell named it Sutton Sunset because their tree faces west and they get good sunsets there, illuminating the already warm tones of the tree, as the dying sun passes through. Given the stunning dark pink blossom in Spring, this mysterious tree has a lot to commend it. We are very grateful to Fiona, Robert and Avril for all their help in giving it a wider audience.
 

PEARS

ENDICOTT PEAR Now nearly 400 years old, this is the oldest known fruit tree, with a full provenance, in the world. It is believed to be the oldest living tree in America by some. When John Endecott, an English puritan, left for America in 1628 on the ship Abigail, he landed and stayed on a small peninsula at Salem, in what would become part of Massachusetts. He is believed to have planted fruit trees on his arrival. In 1632 he was granted 300 acres of land in Danversport, three miles away and probably moved his young fruit trees. He established ‘Orchard Farm’ and planted this pear tree among many others. He is on record as having been committed to the need to produce food crops for a swelling number of immigrants to New England and it seems likely, and even supposed by some in America, that he brought grafted sapling trees with him from England. It would be a foolish immigrant who planned to feed his family by taking seeds, sowing them and then to waiting up to 10 years for the first fruit, only to find the fruit was of unpalatable quality. Seedlings more often than not produce poor fruit and only a few, selected from many, are worth keeping. Another belief was that it arrived from England on the Arbella with Winthrop in 1630. John Endecott was later first Governor of Massachusetts. He and Winthrop were directors of the Massachusetts Bay Trading Company – set up by Royal Charter of Charles I - to colonize a large area of New England. Endecott’s family later went by the name of ‘Endicott’. His pear tree was said to have been planted in 1632, some say 1640, and was known as the ‘Sugar Pear’, in ‘The Governor’s Orchard’. There is no firm evidence to conclude whether or not the tree was grafted, such was its troubled life and ground level rises quite substantially over 400 years. A descendant, Samuel Endicott, in 1823, said in a full statement that it had been imported from England and that there was no doubt of it having been grafted. Others point to its re-growth from low down as evidence of it having been a seedling and true to its roots. During its life it has been subjected to all manner of destructive forces. It blew down in 1804 and again in 1815 but rose again from the seemingly dead. The original trunk had gone, when inspected in 1924. In 1938 two remaining stems from ground level were almost destroyed by the New England Hurricane and in 1964 a vandal teenager decapitated what remained. Careful husbandry allowed it to shoot and recover, to be enfenced for security. Its history has been fully documented since its first years. A map of 1832 by John Proctor clearly marks the tree as being 200 years old. The quality of the pears has been described as poor, hard and only worth cooking or excellent to eat and sweet. President John Adams – President at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries - was very impressed with the tree and had several trees grafted for his farm. It is small to medium sized, rounded, with a long stalk and mostly said to be of sweet eating quality. Our trees have not yet fruited, so we cannot be more specific. It is most likely an English or French variety of great antiquity.

 
WINDSOR This is one of our oldest pears, already well known when John Parkinson included it in his Paradisi in Sole, Paradisus Terrestris, of 1629. He said – “The Windsor peare is an excellent good peare, well known to most persons, and of a reasonable greatnesse: it will bear fruit some times twice in a yeare (and as it is said) three times in some places.” He included a plate, showing ‘Windsor’. It can be large, though sometimes of more medium size, is ripe in late September, when it turns from green to yellow, and has tender flesh, sweet and juicy, with a fine perfumed pear flavour. It is fairly early flowering. Poll A.
 
 

PLUMS

BLUE IMPÉRATRICE An old French plum, probably the same as Impératrice, which was in England in 1708, recorded in the London and Wise list as growing at Hampton Court. However, the plum now known in the National Collection and from which we received the scions for grafting, does not accord with the early descriptions. In particular, Duhamel, in France, in 1768, said that it was pointed both ends and an illustration confirmed a very oval plum. The plum now known is rounded oval. Nevertheless it is a good fruit, smaller than some descriptions, with purple skin, heavily bloomed. The flesh is juicy, olive coloured, sweet and ripe from late September to October. Middle flowering.

 
 
KEA Kea is a village just south of Truro, Cornwall and this cooking plum is part of the historic fabric of the area, said to have been a chance seedling. It is one of the plums that can be reproduced from cuttings or suckers. A small rounded plum, with dark purple skin, ripe in early September, or earlier in warm summers, with sweetish, juicy flesh, though too sharp to enjoy raw. It has long been used for jam. There was also a Red Kea known and now a yellow skinned Kea, but the dark skinned one seems to be the earlier and legitimate one. A prolific and precocious fruiter, which appears to be self fertile. Early to middle flowering.
 
 
MIRABELLE DE METZ Named from Metz, in north-east France, it has also been called Drap D’Or from the golden skin. It dates back to the 17th century, possibly earlier, and was in England as Drap D’Or by 1708, as recorded in the London and Wise list of fruits at Hampton Court. The small, very sweet, freestone plums, with yellow transparent flesh, ripen in August. The skin is golden, with a pale bloom that takes on a greenish tint, and speckled with red dots in the sun. It has long been valued for conserves. The growth is bushy and twiggy, according to Bunyard.
 
 
OLD DUCHY GAGE When Prince Charles moved to the Highgrove Estate, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, he pursued his passion for organic farming there, naming the collective farms as Duchy Home Farm. His Farm Manager, David Wilson, proved and promoted organic farming there with great success and it has become a beacon, a source of knowledge and inspiration to others, under David’s direction. During a visit by us to chat about many things, David showed us some very old fruit trees in the small orchard attached to his farmhouse, and this tree was one. It stood out because, for a member of the plum family, this tree had a huge trunk girth and was clearly ancient. Rather overgrown and yielding only sparse and old wood for grafting, David helpfully pruned the tree back in 2018, to generate new growth, and new trees were grafted in 2019. It is not really a gage, as would be recognised by most since the fruit, the wood and habit of growth are all different from what we see of the many varieties of greengage, though it has aspects of the nature of a greengage in it. It is certainly not a typical plum. In particular, the bark of new growth is a warm, light brown and the leaves have a curious drooping posture, while the fruiting spurs are more lateral and pointed than domestic plums and gages. It has something of the habit of a bullace, but is not the same and is obviously of superior quality. The whole natural history of bullaces, cherry plums, mirabelles, mirobolans and damsons has been very confused and clouded in mystery throughout the historical literature, and gives us no anchor point for this tree. Perhaps it is a missing link or bridge between antiquity and what we know now. Perhaps it is a cross between a bullace and a domestic plum/gage, but it seems most likely that it was no chance seedling, idly left to grow to such an age, and in a defined orchard area. Perhaps some ancient farmer deliberately crossed a gage or plum with a favoured bullace. If it was a chance seedling some keen eyed discoverer must have brought the sapling home. The mystery will remain. It is a small fruit, the size of a large cherry, round, with the look of a small greengage, green turning golden yellow when ripe. The flesh is very juicy, sweet but with a fair degree of acidity, not found in greengages, and with a pleasant tanginess. It is ripe in late August. We thank David Wilson for his help, insights and enthusiasm.
 
SAINT MARTIN Also known as Coe’s Late Red, with a synonyn of Saint Martin, during the 19th century, Bunyard (1920) relates that it was an old French variety, called Saint-Martin, and described by Duhamel in the 18th century. Nurseryman, Jervaise Coe, introduced it to England shortly after and listed it under his own name. It has been well described by 18th-20th century writers, but has rarely been seen in modern times. Middle sized, roundish, purple fruits, carrying a blue bloom, and ripe quite late in the year, in October. Hogg said it was ripe in late October and would hang on the tree up to 6 weeks later. He added “a valuable variety”. The flesh is greenish yellow, sweet, juicy, mildly acid and with a sprightly flavour. The tree has a weeping habit. A fine eating plum, parting readily from the stone, and also very good cooked.
 
 

MEDLAR

STONELESS
This rare variety was brought to us by horticulturist, teacher and owner of Chiltern Heritage Orchards, Lindsay Engers, who was supplied it by the now closed Read’s Nursery in Norfolk. It now seems to be almost unknown in Britain, but has quite an early history. In 1697 John Worlidge noted “If we could obtain the Medlar without stones mentioned in the French Gardiner, they would be better worth the planting.” Worlidge was referring to John Evelyn’s translation of Nicholas de Bonnefons ‘Le Jardinier François’ of 1651. Switzer, in 1724, seemed to suggest that a stoneless medlar was then known to him in Britain. We should point out that the stones are the large, hard seeds that occupy a large part of the fruit. By 1826, when the London Horticultural Society produced its first collection catalogue, Néflier Sans Noyeau was included, along with synonyms of Mespilus Germanica Abortiva and Néflier Sans Pepins. This was clearly a seedless medlar. In the 1842 edition it was noted with a further synonym of French Medlar. Pliny, in the first century, noted a Gallic Medlar, but there is no evidence to prove they are the same. Hogg and Scott in the 19th century both called the variety (possibly species) ‘Stoneless’. They came out with identical descriptions, though it has never been discovered which copied which. Both gave synonyms of Sans Noyau and Sans Pepins. They said “In shape this resembles the Nottingham, but it rarely exceeds three quarters of an inch in diameter; the eye is smaller and less rent than in the other varieties; it is quite destitute of seeds, and woody core, but the flavour, though good, is inferior to that of the others, being less brisk.” Lindsay Engers has found that the fruit on his tree is not small and is of equal flavour with Nottingham and has sent photos to confirm the former. It seems that this stoneless medlar has been afforded the sub-species name of Mespilus Germanica Apyrena and it might be that this particular stoneless medlar is an improved variety, not familiar to the 19th century. We offer our gratitude to Lindsay for bringing scions, now grafted in 2020.

 

CHERRY

AMBER Grubb, in his book on ‘Cherries’, 1949, says that Amber is the same as ‘Kent Bigarreau’ or ‘Amber Heart’. Bunyard that ‘Amber’ is a synonym of Kentish Bigarreau (which he has as Bigarreau, Kentish). The fruit is ripe mid to late season. (July) The skin is pale creamy yellow with a red flush and is broadly heart-shaped, with a slightly flat top and bottom. The stone is small. The flesh is also pale creamy-yellow- sometimes crisp but it can be soft. It is sweet and juicy, with its own particular flavour. It was once a very common variety. Grubb says “The bulk of the mid-season white cherries sold by fruiterers each summer are of this variety; there is, in fact, no other white cherry of its season produced in England on anything like the same scale” and Bunyard also says that it is the variety commonly grown in Kent, and is the ‘Bigarreau’ or ‘Graffion’ of Thompson, Rogers and Hooker. Rogers describes it as ‘an old inhabitant of our gardens….valued in the dessert for its fine amber colour’. Late flowering.

 
 

EARLY PURPLE GUIGNE This is an old cherry that seems to have come to England from Europe but without its name or history. In 1822 it was sent by M. Decandelle from Geneva, Switzerland, to the London Horticultural Society. He had it from Msr Baumann of Bolwiller, in Alsace, and the dates suggest the cherry was 18th century or earlier. It has a synonym of ‘German May Duke’ among other German and French synonyms. Having no clear name when it arrived in London it was simply called Early Purple Gean or Guigne. The word Gean comes from the region in Bordeaux known as Guienne, where the class of cherries called Geans were said to have come from. It seems to have disappeared from Britain, though as late as 1949 Grubb said it was often seen in the Kent orchards (‘Cherries’ 1949). Bunyard (1920) describes it as medium sized, ripe in mid-June, dark blackish-red, roundish heart-shaped, flattened each side, giving a very flattened oval appearance from side view. The stem is 2 inches long, and the flesh is black, with red veins, tender and juicy, the flavour being very rich and sweet. Earlier authors also praised its qualities, above other cherries. Hogg (1884) said that it would ripen in late May on a wall about a fortnight earlier than May Duke. It is also earlier flowering. We found Early Purple Guigne in America and grafted new trees here at the start of the new millennium.

 
 

YELLOW SPANISH A very old cherry which is probably the White Spanish of Parkinson (1629), since the latter disappears from the writings at the same time as Yellow Spanish appears. Old works talk of a white and a black ‘Spanish’, ‘white’ usually meaning pale ‘yellow’. Parkinson said it “is an indifferent good bearer, the leafe and blossome somewhat large, and like the Luke Wardes cherrie; the cherries are reasonable faire berries, with long stalkes and great stones, white on the outside, with some rednesse, on the one side of a firme substance, and reasonable sweet, but with a little aciditie, and is one of the late ripe ones.” Yellow Spanish was considered by Hogg (1884) to be a synonym of Bigarreau, there being a multitude of bigarreau cherries but just ‘Bigarreau’ has been said to go back to Pliny the Elder, in the 1st century, under the name Duracina. Forsyth (1810) described Yellow Spanish briefly - “is of an oval shape and amber colour, and is a sweet pleasant fruit. It is ripe in August and September.” This is the fruit we have brought back from America. We find it fruits a little earlier than Forsyth suggests. It is pale yellow with a warm blush, the flesh is pale, almost freestone, juicy sweet and with a tangy lemon flavour. A good cherry. Middle flowering.

 
 

FIG

DESERT KING It is not known exactly when this fig was discovered, but it was found growing around 1930 near Madera, California. It is a fast and tall-growing variety which is fairly resistant to drought. The fruit is pale green, turning gold, and ripens in midsummer. The sweet and juicy flesh is strawberry-red.

 
 

GRAPE

BLACK CORINTH Also called the Currant Grape and Cluster Grape. From the ancient city of Corinth, in south east Greece, this is the small, richly sweet and tangy, black grape which gives us dried currants. The word ‘currant’ is just a corruption of the word ‘Corinth’. In Greece, the grapes were simply left out in the sun to dry. The grapes really are very small and the bunches very decorative, initially sweet and with gentle acid, they become very sweet and richly flavoured when fully ripe. The grape was already well known in Britain by the early 1600s, but is now very rare here.

 
 

BLACK MOROCCO Also called Morocco. It is a late fruiting variety that has been said to be reluctant to set fruit without hand assistance. A sweet and juicy grape that will keep late and develops a very rich and vinous flavour. It has been said to require a heated site for full maturity, though with our warmer climate a wall or greenhouse is sufficient. Initially the grapes are red, becoming black when fully ripe.

 
 
GOLDEN CHAMPION Raised by Mr William Thompson in 1863, it received a first class Award of Merit from the RHS in 1868. It was said to be from a cross of Mill Hill Hamburgh and Bowood Muscat. Large bunches of large grapes, with pale yellow, thin skin, becoming amber. Scott (1872) said that 11 bunches weighed 30 pounds. The flesh is firm, very juicy and with the flavour of Black Hamburgh.
 
 
JULY MUSCAT Also called July Frontignan or Muscat de Juillet. This old variety is one of the earliest grapes to ripen and has the rich muscat flavour in sweet and juicy, purple berries. The Black July grape is probably the only grape to ripen earlier but has a poorer flavour. Thomas Rivers was said to have introduced this grape to England in the mid-19th century. A prolific bearer that does best in a greenhouse or on a warm wall.
 
 
MRS PINCE'S BLACK MUSCAT Raised by Mrs Pince, wife of Mr R.T. Pince of Exeter Nurseries, shortly before her death. It first fruited in 1863. A vine with a healthy constitution. Large bunches of medium sized, black berries, which are firm, juicy, sweet and vinous. It sets well and hangs as late as any other grape, but it needs to be inside, though without artifical heat, to colour up and ripen fully.
 
 
SWEETWATER Also called White Sweetwater, there being a Black Sweetwater too. A very old variety, and in Britain before 1708, when the name appeared in the lists of London and Wise, as being grown at Hampton Court. The grapes are white, very juicy and sweet. Refreshing, with a delicate flavour.
 
 
TRESSOT PANACHÉ A fascinating grape where the bunches are part black and part white, with some grapes striped black and white (or pale green). It is said to have arisen as a mutation of Tressot Noir and this curious bicoloured grape was known in the 16th century. Though once thought extinct, it survived in Germany and has since made its way back to Britain. We are very grateful to Stephen Jackson of Smalley, Derbyshire, who sent us cuttings in 2016. Tressot Noir has been grown outside in Burgundy, so Tressot Panaché should be fairly hardy, but it might be better grown in a greenhouse, or against a warm wall.