Tom Adams from Tom Adams Fruit Tree Nursery has contacted GOT to say he still has a wide range of bare root apple and pear trees for sale this season. Tom says:
I run an organic fruit tree nursery in Shropshire and specialise in apple and pear varieties from the borderlands.
I work closely with the Marcher Apple Network and a few year ago Jim Chapman from the National Perry Pear Collection allowed me access to his collection and I now have a wide range of Perry pear trees for sale.
We are nearing the end of the bare root season and I still have quite a few trees left for sale.
If you know of any projects and and individuals that may be interested in such trees please do pass on my details.
Come the first agreeable afternoon this month I intend to start pruning the apple trees. Pruning is not difficult and whatever you do you are not likely to kill the tree, but good pruning results in higher production and better quality fruit. The mantra is start with dead, damaged, diseased, and crossing but I would prefix that with “why am I going to the effort of pruning it at all”. In my experimental orchard of about 100 varieties I’ve had them long enough to know that there are some I can hardly be bothered with. Result – they don’t get touched until they are overcrowding a variety I like and then they get a severe chop for firewood – Shepperdine Silt was the first to get this honour, a highly vigorous tree with large quantities of disgusting little fruit going rotten before they dropped. Cut at about knee height three years ago it has resprouted vigorously. Remember, I said I cut it off at knee height. Had I done it at ankle height it would still probably have regrown, but it would be from the rootstock below the graft union so it would no-longer be a Shepperdine Silt.
I don’t want to lose any variety in my collection. It is entirely possible that I haven’t discovered the best use for this variety yet. It took me years to discover that Green Two Year Old becomes edible after Christmas and currently is a nice crisp tart green eater, and will go on well for several months eventually becoming yellow. It is fine for cooking too.
All the varieties I planted were thought to be Gloucestershire varieties at the time. Thanks to DNA analysis, where GOT is sending off “our varieties” for testing, we now know that Green Two Year Old matches the variety held in the National Fruit Collection as French Crab, and Shepperdine Silt is Lord Lambourne. All credit to the pioneers of varietal conservation in Gloucestershire, Charles Martell, Richard Fawcett and Alan Watson; without their work more than 20 years ago we wouldn’t have the luxury of testing the varieties which they secured against possible extinction to find out how unique each one really is. Though my Green Two Year Old matches the description of French Crab fine, my Shepperdine Silt can’t be the same high-quality dessert fruit as Lord Lambourne. Summat wrong somewhere
We are arranging a tour of orchards in the northern reaches of Gloucestershire – we’ll cross the border into southern Herefordshire, so you’ll need to have your passport with you and had all the necessary jabs – and have set a date of Friday 26th April.
The date has been chosen in the hope and expectation that many of the fruit trees in the orchards we’ll visit will be in blossom, the likelihood of which is enhanced that the orchards we’ll be visiting contain both perry pear and apple trees … (but the presence or otherwise of blossom is, of course, determined by natural forces, well beyond the control of the Trustees).
Price per person: £20
Details of the itinerary will be confirmed in due course, but the current plan is as follows:
– Meet at Henley Bank, Brockworth, at 10:00.
– Tour of Henley Bank orchards
– Visit two orchards in an around Dymock and Bromesberrow
– Visit orchards in Putley and / or Preston Cross
– Tour of an orchard in Overbury
– Tour of an orchard in Winchcombe
– Return to Henley Bank, Brockworth at 16:00.
We can have a maximum of 15 people. To reserve your place please contact either David Lindgren David.firstname.lastname@example.org or Martin Hayes email@example.com
I finished pressing the cider apples and clearing up today. The Ansell and Hagloe Crab, shaken from the tree onto tarpaulins about a month ago, were still in prime condition.
If you are organised enough to collect the fruit before it falls to the ground, it is much easier doing it this way than collecting dropped fruit that needs vigorous cleaning to get the mud off before it can be scratted. However, it is good to wait till at least some ripe fruit has fallen or it won’t be ready.
All my cider and juice is for personal or family consumption. I’ve got a ramshackle cider-making kit, involving an old garden shredder and various fermenting barrels and demi-johns bought from charity shops over the years.
My little fruit press was bought second-hand at auction and is a very good size for making single-variety juices when you only have one tree of any particular sort. I baulk at the cost of commercial strainer bags and have tried net curtains but they rot and tear quickly and the pulp will squirt out of any hole when under pressure. The best solution I’ve found is old linen tea towels. They allow a free flow of liquid and can be washed and sterilised regularly.
A brand new mistletoe survey has just been launched by the Tree Council and Oxford University, as an app-based citizen science project to assess the state of mistletoe in Britain. Not just whereis it, but what quantities exist. This is new, and exciting, as it will help determine what is happening with mistletoe in Britain here – it seems to be spreading more and faster and we need a new study to assess this, and to create a baseline for assessments in future.
Orchard owners across Gloucestershire – and in adjoining Somerset, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gwent – will be familiar with the particular problem locally. Neglected traditional orchards, in the heart of mistletoe’s favoured region, can become overwhelmed by mistletoe – and it can result in the death of tress and accelerate orchard loss. It shouldn’t be like this of course – mistletoe has co-existed in our area and our orchards since at least the early 19th century and probably well before that. But the decline in interest in managing such orchards, coupled with an apparent increase in mistletoe spread, is now a problem.
Which we need to document. Many will recall the National Mistletoe Survey in the 1990s, run jointly by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and Plantlife, the plant conservation charity. Instigated in 1992 and analysed through the 1990s up to 1999. That was led by GOT’s own Jonathan Briggs, who is an advisor on the new project The 1990s study, also linked to orchards but worrying that orchard loss might result in mistletoe loss (a concept that now seems naive!) merely assessed where mistletoe was growing. But not the amount growing The new project aims to address that. There is a presentation all about it here: https://youtu.be/o6IcGgkcTGk
The assessment is not just about orchards of course – and the new project looks well beyond orchards to the wider habitats where mistletoe thrives. Anecdotal evidence, and some detailed regional local studies outside our area since the 1990s study, have suggested mistletoe is doing very well in all its habitats – orchards, parkland, churchyards, hedgerows etc. Increasing spread may be due to climate change, changes in the bird populations spreading the seeds, or something else entirely. For a discussion of all this have a read of Jonathan Briggs’ 2021 review here.
So… do take part if you can. It is important that we document the abundance of mistletoe in our area! And the new study does allow you to record multiple hosts trees at once, so no need (phew!) to document every individual orchard tree!
The project is called MistleGO! It is app-based (though you can use the website version if you prefer) and is being masterminded by Oliver Spacey, a PhD student at Oxford. The app requires you to give location (it will do this automatically), to take a picture of the tree (or group of trees) with mistletoe, give a score of how much mistletoe there is, and, optionally, give additional information on host tree species etc. Full details (summarised below) are on the Tree Council website here and download instructions for the app (you need the Arc123 app first, and then run the MistleGO! app within that) are here.
A new series of posts from GOT trustee Juliet Bailey.
30 November 2023
It’s a frosty day.
I had intended scratting and pressing cider with the varieties Hagloe Crab and Ansell, both picked about 10 days ago, but the hosepipe feeding the waterbath for washing them had been left out all night, and not a dribble was getting through.
So I went down to the orchard to see what was still on the trees.
Plenty of Lemon Roy, though more than half of them were on the floor, but all now safely gathered in. Charles Martell’s Native Apples of Gloucestershire has them down as a culinary variety, but I find them pleasant eating, crisp with a good balance of sweet and acidity, even if not very aromatic.
I got my first decent crop from a young Kernel Underleaf tree. This has to be a cider variety, sweet enough, but with a cardboard texture to the flesh and a thick skin. Still, it ripens late, so could be a good one to have to spread the load of processing through the season. If you were wondering what a “tip-bearer” looks like, this is it. The photo shows fruit dangling at the tip of a long twig which bends under the weight.
Finally, I picked the remaining Elmore Pippins. These ripen in store and will be a good little eater in January.
I hope to get round to picking the Green 2-year Olds this week, then the birds are welcome to the rest.
The DNA analysis project run via FruitID is now in its 8th year. This year the scheme offers DNA analysis at £32.50 plus VAT per sample for Apples, Pears, and Cherries.
If you would like to participate, please go to www.fruitID.com/#help where you can find the Announcement and Timetable, a Request Form to ask for sample bags, detailed collection guidance, results from previous years, and an Introduction to DNA Fingerprinting.
Also at the FruitID website Muriel Smith’s National Apple Register for the UK is now available as a digital download.
To find it, go to www.fruitID.com/#help then click on ‘Pomonas’ from the list on the left and look for the 1971 entry. Thanks to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species for funding the digitisation of this great resource.