Quince blossom of variety Borgeant

Quince blossom of variety Borgeant

Can someone tell me why, after a superb blossom show in May, my Quince ‘Vranja’ has not set fruit. Bees were seen busy in the blossom. The tree is about 4 years old and I had 3 good size fruit from it 2 years ago. Nothing since.

Clive Prtichard

Nottingham Medlar

Nottingham Medlar

Re-starting an old thread… I’m considering a medlar for our garden in Yorkshire (UK zone 7/8). I tried the fruit for the first time a couple of years ago (farm shop in the Vale of Evesham – don’t know the variety) but they were delicious when fully ripe – something like an exotic custard! I didn’t know there were at least 20 varieties, many probably hard to find.
Is the fruit cracking problem also related to weather conditions (wet/dry) at certain stages of fruit growth? Are they all equally prone?
Can Hamid (Keepers Nursery) list those he knows in order of preference? Clearly Iranian at the top! Has anyone experience of the Giant Russian? In general I find over large fruit to be lacking in flavour or other other eating qualities. Is this the case with the larger Medlars?

Robin Stokes

English/French orchard prompt

English/French orchard prompt

If you have ever wished that you knew what that French term porte–greffe meant, or, for those on the other side of the Channel, the English word for rootstock then now there is an English/French ‘little dictionary’, to help you with many other words associated with growing fruit trees. It is small booklet, available free for the price of a stamped addressed envelope. Charming designed and a handy size, it was made as part of the ‘Orchards Without Borders’ project, to use on the cross Channel visits between a group in Sussex and one in Normandy. (Orchards without Borders is a project run by the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership; see our main web-site for an account of one of the recent expeditions). They have extra copies of the ‘little dictionary’ to give away – send a stamped self-addressed envelope (A5 size) to Anne-Marie Bur, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton, BN1 1YD


Fruit Blossom 2015

King's Acre Pippin apple

King’s Acre Pippin apple

We will track the progress of fruit blossom during the coming weeks through its development in the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, near Faversham, Kent. Our guide is Lorinda Jewsbury, who is going to give us information on a number of varieties in the Collection: dates when 10% of the buds are open, the tree is in full flower and when 90% of the petals have fallen. The varieties that Lorinda records are listed below with the dates observed so far. Updates will follow as we advance through blossom time.

The year’s season held off from 2014’s early show of flowers, with the apricots, plums, cherries and pears opening their blooms a good 2-3 weeks later than last year. In mid-April we had a few unusually warm and sunny days, which really set the blooms in motion. One moment there was barely a pear tree in blossom, the next saw the orchard awash with white flowers.

For the plums, a cluster of warm days gave a boost to the flowering times, with just 1-2 days between ‘10% of blossom open’ and ‘full flower’ for a number of varieties. It also gave a boost to the bees, butterflies and numerous other insects that appeared to be enjoying the sea of open flowers in the orchard. Hopefully they will have done a good job at pollinating the flowers for us and, weather permitting, a good crop will follow.

Lorinda Jewsbury



Cambridge Gage: 15th April (10% open); 16th April (full flower)

Czar: 7th April (10% open); 11th April (full flower)

Denniston’s Superb (Imperial Gage): 11th April (10% open); 14th April (full flower)

Farleigh Damson: 13th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)

Marjorie’s Seedling: 15th April (10% open); 16th April (full flower)

Oullins Gage: 14th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)

Pershore Yellow Egg: 14th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)

Victoria: 13th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)


Concorde: 21st April (10% open)

Conference: 20th April (10% open)

Doyenne du Comice: 21st April (10% open)

Louise Bonne of Jersey: 15th April (10% open); 19th April (full flower)


Early Rivers: 16th April (10% open); 20th April (full flower)

Hertford: 18th April (10% open); 22nd April (full flower)

Lapins: 15th April (10% open); 18th April (full flower)

Merchant: 20th April (10% open)

Stella: 20th April (10% open)

Sunburst: 21st April (10% open)


Blenheim Orange:

Bramley’s Seedling:

Cox’s Orange Pippin:

Crawley Beauty:


Egremont Russet:



Fiesta/Red Pippin:


James Grieve:



Red Astrachan: 16th April (10% open); 21st April (full flower)

St. Edmund’s Pippin:

Worcester Pearmain:


See below, in first comment,  for a course on pollination 26-28 June 2015 in Cambridge UK


Nearly all my outdoor figs, which were still green, were stripped off. There was no trace of them on the ground.

This is the first time this has happened, so I don’t think it’s squirrels as they’ve been around for years.

There has been an explosion of parakeets recently.

Any ideas? I’m thinking of putting fleece over them next year.

Dan Kelly

I am looking for advice on the true identity of an apple variety once known and celebrated in West Cornwall: the Allan Apple. It is associated with the festival of Allantide, October 31st – Halloween, of course, elsewhere, and there is now a resurgence of interest in both the feast and the apple variety. There are various legends associated with the Allan Apple, but the one remembered from my childhood was that the Allan Apple was given to young ladies who would put it under their pillow (uneaten!) that night in order to dream of their future sweetheart or lover. The apples are described as large, red and sweetly scented – but no-one nowadays seems to know the variety. My son runs an orchard, and I would love to be able to rediscover this – any suggestions?

Sue Ellery

'Belgian Fence'

‘Belgian Fence’

I would like to get some feedback on my plans for a ‘Belgian Fence’ (interwoven double cordon) of apples. I want to create small single intersecting diamond forms as shown in my diagram.

My shortlist for varieties (with pollination groups shown in brackets) is:
Red Windsor (2)
Scrumptious (3)
Egremont Russet (2)
Herefordshire Russet (3)

After a lot of tastings – I attended three different apple days this year – and getting very interested in some other older varieties that have wonderful flavour – Ashmead’s Kernel, Blenheim Orange, Orleans Reinette – I am close to settling on the varieties above. Three of which are newer improved varieties, and seem like they might be a bit more productive. My space is very limited so I want to maximise productivity (without sacrificing flavour). However I have not managed to taste Scrumptious or Herefordshire Russet – can anyone report on flavour? And productivity or suitability for such restricted training?

Situation is a small garden in central London, very sheltered indeed, but probably slightly sub-optimum levels of direct sunlight. Garden is SSE facing with the cordon to run along the left hand fence (running NNW – SSE). The fence is a picket fence around 120cm high so allows some of the early morning direct sunlight through. Then as the sun moves around the row will get direct sunlight from mid-morning to mid-late afternoon. So not full sun all day, but my tomatoes did OK in that position this year, not the best crop I have had, but acceptable. Existing soil is about 18″ to 2ft of clay over building rubble. It is not heavy clay – bit loamy, but has been under paving for many years. I plan to double dig in the next few weeks and add about 25% Veoila soil improver, which I can get from our local tip and seems like good dark stuff – hopefully giving that a month before planting..

I plan to concrete in some angle iron about 8” from the existing fence. Posts to be spaced 2.4m (8ft) apart with galvanised wire and tensioners for support, with canes and ties as generally recommended. Tree spacing 60cm (2ft). Eventual tree height 180cm (6ft). The larger tree on the right in the diagram is to be a Spindle Bush Conference Pear. I am looking at bare-root M9 rootstock from Keeper’s nursery. Apparently due to the warm October the trees are still growing so it is likely to be the New Year before most are lifted.

Any experience anyone could bring to bear on any of this would be much appreciated.

Richard Galpin


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