Although England is well known for its orchards, the more sheltered areas of Scotland have long produced a wide range of excellent varieties of fruit. For example, there are some 2000 varieties of apples in the National Collection at Brogdale, in Kent. Most of these are from the south of England but many good varieties grow well in Scotland. Furthermore, there are a fair number of Scottish varieties of orchard fruit including 40 known Scottish varieties of apples.
It is likely that many of the old varieties of orchard fruit have been lost or remain undiscovered in orchards, scrub or woodland. Distinctive local varieties of fruit have evolved, often with a fascinating history. Examples of apples include Maggie Sinclair and Scotch Dumpling – which probably originated in Clydesdale, White Melrose – grown around its namesake Scottish border town, and James Grieve – from Edinburgh. Two varieties of plum are recorded in Scotland together with seven varieties of pear.
Fruit varieties recently found in the Clyde Valley orchards
The IronsideFarrar study identified over 53 varieties of fruit within the surveyed orchards.
Scottish apple varieties
A list of known Scottish varieties of apples appears in the book ‘Apples of Scotland’ by John Butterworth.
We would like your help to build a picture of old and new varieties of fruit grown in the Clyde Valley orchards. Please let us know if you have identified particularly interesting fruit such as local or Scottish varieties. Good photographs of your fruit would also be very welcome.
Although we cannot provide a service for fruit identification, we could put you in touch with organisations that can help with this. We are also looking out for people interested in grafting interesting old and new trees in the Clyde Valley and helping to re-establish a stock of our local fruit trees.
Many tree nurseries offer a bud grafting service subject to availability of suitable grafting material. This includes the possibility of grafting from a special tree in your garden as well as propagating unusual varieties from collections such as those at the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale or at the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens at Wisley. The cost of the grafting service is around £25.00 per tree. You can also learn how to do this yourself by joining our co-operative.
Monthly orchard tasks
If you have a larger orchard, rather than a garden one if you have not already done so by now it’s time to cut the grass around the trees and leaving cuttings to dry before raking. This means that any flowers that have gone over will have a better chance of dispersing their seeds.
Harvest ripe plums – despite the April frost many members of CVOC do have a plum crop to enjoy.
Bud graft new trees. You can bud graft to the root-stocks of any failed bench grafts from earlier in the year, or to new rootstock. Unlike whip and tongue grafting you don’t need dormant scion wood to bud graft, but instead you use the buds from the leaf axils of the year-wood, which means you can collect it the same day you bud graft. For a full guide to bud grafting visit The People’s Trust for Endangered Species
Apples of our eye
The following are recommendations of different apple varieties which we know do well in the local area. We will continue to add successful varieties in the following months.
Sunset is a popular Cox-style apple which was raised in Kent c. 1918.It was named and introduced in 1933. Received the RHS Award of Merit in 1960. Very similar to Cox but much more disease resistant.
The fruit is small to medium sized, flat-round fruit with an orange flush and stripes over a golden yellow skin covered in small russet patches. Moderately juicy, crisp, cream coloured flesh. Sweet but with plenty of acidity. Intense aromatic flavour very similar to Cox.
Its a mid-season variety so expect to pick around mid/late September. Sunset does not keep especially well and is best stored in a refrigerator where it will last a month or so.
Bloody Ploughman is an old Scottish variety from the Carse of Gowrie. The fruit is blood red in appearance with knobby skin and stained pink flesh when its fully ripe. Perhaps one of the most intensively coloured apples in cultivation. Juicy, light and sweet in flavour with a crisp texture. Beautiful pink blossom in the Spring. A hardy tree which performs very well in the Clyde Valley and is disease resistant. Classified as an eater but likely to do better as a cooker. However, a bit of a slow developer amongst the young trees planted in our orchard – so be patient if you are lucky enough to have a young tree – it will reward you in time.
Named after the man who bred this splendid apple. He was the Head Gardener at the Welford Park Estate near Newbury in Berkshire during the Victorian era. It is regarded as the best of the thirty varieties he developed and won an Award of Merit from the RHS in 1989. The RHS called it “one of the most handsome apples in cultivation”. It is very happy in the Clyde Valley.
It has large round-conical fruit with a greenish yellow skin covered with orange red flush and distinct broken red lines with some russet patches. Creamy white, crisp juicy flesh. Pleasant, sweet, lightly aromatic flavour. A dual purpose apple – good for eating and cooking but it loses flavour in storage.