Buttersend is a perry variety originally identified by Long Ashton Research Station in the 1950s, but subsequently considered to be merely a form of Blakeney Red.
The re-discovered trees, in a location near Hartpury, are now looking aged and last year I decided to use DNA to double-check that they were actually Blakeney Red. They are still fruiting well, and the fruit does look similar to Blakeney Red, as can be seen in this photo of immature fruit (taken early August)
But the DNA results reveal that it is a unique variety, so the Buttersend is reinstated! It is a perry pear worth planting, with specific gravity, acid and tannin percentages already ascertained by Long Ashton (see original record card below).
It is now being budded and will in due course take its place in the National Collection!
Jim Chapman led a fascinating workshop on 15th September at Hartpury Orchard Centre/National Perry Pear Centre, with an introduction, guidance on use of manuals and keys to dessert and culinary pears, plus using manuals and a new approach to keys to perry pears. This was followed by a practical workshop identifying samples of pears, apples and plums (the latter from stones).
There was an opportunity to view for comparison an extensive display of named perry pears (a record 97 varieties!).
Mattias was on hand at lunchtime to show the cider and perry making equipment and provide tastings.
In addition, Jim gave advice on perry orchard planting, choice of variety, rootstock etc and a tour of the perry trial orchard.
GOT was on hand to advise on county and national networking opportunities and resources.
This event was funded by the Three Counties Traditional Orchard Project/Heritage Lottery Fund.
On one of the best mornings of this spring, 17 folk arrived just before dawn (5am) to ramble round the Hartpury orchards and listen to the birds waking up.
It was a superb morning – there was a low-lying mist to start, then a huge sunrise.
Led by Keith Turner, we heard (and he identified) 31 different birds, including the rare Cetti’s warbler again – they are becoming regular visitors and at least one pair is probably breeding. As usual the cuckoo made its presence known – one of the orchards has always been known as the Cuckoo Pen.
Toast and hot drinks rounded off the morning – sitting at the picnic tables, overlooking Catsbury hill, with perry pear orchard in the foreground – and all before 7am!!
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