Merpet cherry

Following the exceptional developments of the past year, and a necessary break from recording in 2020, it’s good to be back in the orchards recording the blossom once again.  However, the weather this year hasn’t been too kind and, walking through, it was obvious the late frosts had taken their toll on the blossom.  The plum blossom, in particular, exhibited a high rate of frost damage, with the damage on some trees estimated at up to 80%.  Quite a number of cherry and pear varieties were touched by frost, too, though the apple and quince, blossoming later, appear largely to have escaped its effects.

A lower yield is the most likely outcome of the frosts this year but we will have to wait and see on the extent of this.  The stage the trees were at for bud development when the frosts hit will play a part and some trees may go on to produce a good crop even though their blossom appeared damaged.  However, this certainly won’t be the case for all varieties and a lighter crop is to be expected later in the year.  In the meantime, a walk through the orchards with the trees in blossom is highly recommended and something to be enjoyed for now.

Lorinda Jewsbury

18th May 2021



Cambridge Gage:  11th April (10% open); 13th April (full flower); 27th April (90% petal fall)

Czar:  8th April (10% open); 11th April (full flower); 23rd April (90% petal fall)

Denniston’s Superb (Imperial Gage):  30th March (10% open); 1st April (full flower); 16th April (90% petal fall)

Farleigh Damson:  4th April (10% open); 8th April (full flower); 21st April (90% petal fall)

Marjorie’s Seedling:   13th April (10% open); 16th April (full flower); 26th April (90% petal fall)

Oullins Gage:   6th April (10% open); 8th April (full flower); 21st April (90% petal fall)

Pershore Yellow Egg:   4th April (10% open); 7th April (full flower); 21st April (90% petal fall)

Victoria:   4th April (10% open); 7th April (full flower); 17th April (90% petal fall)


Concorde:  22nd April (10% open); 25th April (full flower); 4th May (90% petal fall)

Conference:   19th April (10% open); 22nd April (full flower); 4th May (90% petal fall)

Doyenne du Comice:  22nd April (10% open); 25th April (full flower); 4th May (90% petal fall)

Louise Bonne of Jersey:  7th April (10% open); 10th April (full flower); 22nd April (90% petal fall)


Early Rivers:  13th April (10% open); 17th April (full flower); 4th May (90% petal fall)

Hertford: 18th April (10% open); 22nd April (full flower); 8th May (90% petal fall)

Lapins:  13th April (10% open); 16th April (full flower); 2nd May (90% petal fall)

Merchant: 22nd April (10% open); 25th April (full flower); 8th May (90% petal fall)

Stella: 26th April (10% open); 30th April (full flower); 13th May (90% petal fall)

Sunburst: 26th April (10% open); 30th April (full flower); 10th May (90% petal fall)


Blenheim Orange: 30th April (10% open); 6th May (full flower); 17th May (90% petal fall)

Bramley’s Seedling: 28th April (10% open); 1st May (full flower); 17th May (90% petal fall)

Cox’s Orange Pippin: 30th April (10% open); 6th May (full flower); 16th May (90% petal fall)

Crawley Beauty:

Discovery: 29th April (10% open); 1st May (full flower); 16th May (90% petal fall)

Egremont Russet: 25th April (10% open); 28th April (full flower); 11th May (90% petal fall)

Falstaff: 28th April (10% open); 1st May (full flower); 17th May (90% petal fall)


Fiesta/Red Pippin: 1st May (10% open); 7th May (full flower);

Gala: 30th April (10% open); 4th May (full flower); 14th May (90% petal fall)

James Grieve: 28th April (10% open); 1st May (full flower); 16th May (90% petal fall)

Jonagold: 30th April (10% open); 4th May (full flower); 14th May (90% petal fall)

Meridian: 27th April (10% open); 30th April (full flower); 10th May (90% petal fall)

Red Astrachan: 17th April (10% open); 20th April (full flower); 10th May (90% petal fall)

St. Edmund’s Pippin: 24th April (10% open); 27th April (full flower); 7th May (90% petal fall)

Worcester Pearmain: 7th May (10% open); 10th May (full flower);

Thomas Andrew Knight, a Herefordshire squire, who raised the Croft Castle pear in the early nineteenth century

Can anyone help with the hunt for two ‘lost’ cultivars – a pear called Croft Castle, listed in Hogg (1884), but elusive since then and an apple called ‘Northern Dumpling’, which originated in Gordon Castle gardens up in Morayshire and which they are keen to reintroduce.

Jo Miles

Opal plum

I want to plant apple/plum trees in our small sloping south west facing paddock. 2 eaters – 2 cooking – and 2 plums.  What type do you recommend please.
We live in Ripponden South Pennines.

Krystyna Demkowicz

Lane’s Prince Albert apples; a culinary variety raised before 1841 by Thomas Squire and introduced by nurseryman John Lane c 1850

I am researching the Lanes who were nurserymen in Berkhamsted (c1780-1960) and competed against Paul, Bunyard, Laxton et al through the 19th and early 20th centuries. Have you come across Henry Lane, John Edward Lane, or even Frederick Quincey Lane in your researches? If so I would like to hear from you. Thank you and happy wassailing.

Louise Keil

Distinctive Pear Tree

Ancient re-worked pear tree in Kent

Kent has fruit growing areas on suitable soils in North Kent, the High Weald and along the Greensand (Kentish ragstone) scarp slope which runs east / west through the centre of the county.  The Greensand slopes are currently being planted with extensive orchards and soft fruit as it is on the spring line and irrigation reservoirs are easily formed to catch the spring water.  

I have been helping with the restoration of an ancient farmhouse and its grounds for four years or so and a lot of earth moving has been necessary due to soil slip on the spring line.  Luckily we have been able to save some of the trees in the now old orchards.  There are three standard pear trees amongst the Worcester Pearmain and Red Bramley apples.  Two are rather small but one is much larger and when I saw it in fruit this early October I was surprised to see that there were two completely distinctive cultivars on the two main branches.  One is pale green, to pale yellow for the windfalls, and the other is a flattish shape with a dark brown russet all round. 

I had no idea that double grafting with different cultivars was such an old practice, or could this be a young tree which was reworked with a new cultivar but the old one grew away too?

Tom La Dell

Tombstone of Richard Dummeller, Shackerstone churchyard, Leicestershire

The gravestone of Richard Dummeller in Shackerstone Churchyard in the village of that name near Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire is of interest to fruit enthusiasts because Dummeller raised the well culinary apple Dumelow’s Seedling and there has long been debate as to how to spell his surname. In 1884, the eminent Victorian pomologist Dr Robert Hogg spelt it ‘Dumelow’s, but he also wrote that ‘This excellent apple was raised by a person of the name Dumeller (pronounced Dumelow), a farmer in Shakerstone’ in his Fruit Manual. Although he had known the apple for decades and it is recorded in the first 1866 edition of his Manual. A different spelling was used by Edward Bunyard the foremost authority of the 1920-30s. Bunyard records it as Dummelous Seedlling and credits its origin to Mr Dummelow. Other variants have appeared in fruit lists. But it seems that to honour its raiser the spelling should be Dummeller and the village name is Shackerstone!

Jim Arbury

The Denbigh Plum

Denbigh Plum growing in Tefnant, Vale of Clwyd, Denbighshire, Wales

I live in the Vale of Clwyd and grow the Vale of Clwyd Denbigh Plum, now officially recognised as the only Welsh plum. My question is: what relationship is the Cox’s Emperor Plum or Queen’s Crown plum to the Denbigh Plum as they apparently all originated from Denbigh in the 18th/19th century. Are they just similar or are they the same plum genetically? Is there any record at the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale of these Denbigh plums.

On a different note, I have had the problem of an enormous crop of plums this year in the Vale of Clwyd, starting with Opal, followed by Jubileum and Victoria then the Denbigh plum, all of which I donated to the annual Denbigh Plum Festival (5th October).

At peculiar odds with the huge crop from the aforementioned plums, however, my 10 year old Marjorie’s Seedling plum has a poor crop, the first plums are just about ripening this week but they are not the quantity, quality or size of last year. I think the problem was it flowered much later than other plums and during a wet spell.

The 20 year old half standard Victoria plum tree next to it had its largest crop ever, (this despite some pretty drastic thinning) of mostly superb sweet plums. My problem was in getting help to pick them and give them away. My freezer is also overfilled!

My eldest brother who lives in the Midlands informed me the annual Pershore Plum Festival had to be cancelled this year because of a failed plum harvest in the Vale of Evesham!

Philip Lunt

Beurré Hardy, Red Beurré Hardy pear painted by Elisabeth Dowle. Copyright Elisabeth Dowle.
Published in The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan (2015); Ebury Press

Elisabeth Dowle is internationally recognised as one of our leading botanic artists and now there is an opportunity to see many of her best-known works in an exhibition at Cannon Hall Museum, Barnsley, Yorkshire. The exhibition opened on 24 May 2019 and continues until 3 November 2019: http://www.cannon-hall.com/pears-and-apples-the-botanical-illustration-of-elisabeth-dowle

The Cannon Hall exhibition includes 12 of Elisabeth’s apple paintings and 15 of her paintings of pears. The exhibition is displayed in two adjoining rooms, creating intimate spaces and truly cabinets of treasures in which the paintings really sparkle. Well worth a detour if you are in Yorkshire over the summer.

Pear paintings fill the first room and there is special emphasis on the pears, as Cannon Hall has an historic collection of trained pear trees growing in a walled fruit and vegetable garden, close to the house. A number of these pear trees are very old, probably dating back to the nineteenth century, when the gardens were in their prime. The famous Cannon Hall Muscat grape was raised here and the original vine  continues to thrive in one of the glass houses.

Elisabeth has been awarded seven Royal Horticultural Society’s Gold Medals for her water colour paintings. The paintings featured in Cannon Hall exhibition were used to illustrate The Book of Pears by Joan Morgan (2015) and The Book of Apples/The New Book of Apples (1993, 2002)  by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards; published by Ebury Press. These paintings were made from pears and apples growing in the National Fruit Collection, Brogdale, Kent. Elisabeth’s work has been used to illustrate other books, featured on porcelain and calendars and are held in a number of private collections and institutions.

Fruit Forum


Pear trees trained against a wall at Cannon Hall


Cannon Hall Muscat grape fruiting at Cannon Hall

Fruits from Costa Rica

All of the fruits on display above can be found growing in Costa Rica. Their identities are given below by Charlie Strader of Fruit Explorations Inc, which is based in Florida.

From the left: Pachira aquatic, Costa Ricans call it ‘Poponjoche’. It is known by the common names Malabar chestnut, French peanut, Provision tree, Saba nut, Pumpo (Guatemala) and is commercially sold under the names Money tree. Licania platypus (Sansapote, or Sangre in Costa Rica), Mamey Zapote, achiote, cocoa, Eugenia uniflora (Surinam cherry).

We thought that visitors to Fruit Forum may be interested in a tour arranged by Charlie Strader to explore the tropical fruits of Costa Rica.

All the details are here: https://www.explorationsinc.com/costa-rica-fruit-tour.html

This botanical trip departs July 27 2019, contact:  email info@explorationsinc.com


And can any of our readers identify this fruit growing in Costa Rica:

Fruit Forum



Fruit Blossom 2019

Laxton’s Epicure apple

As we have done for a number of years, we publish the blossom records for the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, undertaken and kindly supplied by Lorinda Jewsbury. These are records for a selection of varieties (standards and any new accessions) from all the tree fruit collections at Brogdale, Kent.

18th April 2019

So far this season, the blossom in the NFC orchards has (in general) opened a couple of weeks earlier than last year. Some varieties took advantage of the mild March weather, with the plums, pears and a few of the early cherries in particular opening their blossom 6-8 days earlier than their recorded 10-year mean. However, a dip in temperatures and some pretty cold nights held the rest back and brought them more into line with their 10-year means.

The past couple of days have been much warmer here at Brogdale and the forecast for the Easter weekend is for even higher day-time temperatures. With brighter days and warmer nights, the coming weekend should see the apples and cherries really spring into action. Just this morning I noticed a handful of apples that had by-passed the 10% mark and fully opened 25% of flowers in one go. Although a few tend to do this each year, the number was quite noticeable today. Next week is likely to be a busy one for recording blossom, if the weather holds as predicted, and most of the remaining varieties should be open for business.

Lorinda Jewsbury




Cambridge Gage: 1st April (10% open); 4th April (full flower)

Czar: 26th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower); 16th April (90% petal fall)

Denniston’s Superb (Imperial Gage): 23rd March (10% open); 26th March (full flower); 4th April (90% petal fall)

Farleigh Damson: 29th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower); 16th April (90% petal fall)

Marjorie’s Seedling: 2nd April (10% open); 5th April (full flower); 18th April (90% petal fall)

Oullins Gage: 26th March (10% open); 29th March (full flower); 15th April (90% petal fall)

Pershore Yellow Egg: 28th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower); 12th April (90% petal fall)

Victoria: 29th March (10% open); 1st April (full flower); 10th April (90% petal fall)



Concorde: 12th April (10% open); 16th April (full flower);

Conference: 12th April (10% open); 16th April (full flower);

Doyenne du Comice: 16th April (10% open); 18th April (full flower);

Louise Bonne of Jersey: 2nd April (10% open); 7th April (full flower);



Early Rivers: 7th April (10% open); 10th April (full flower);

Hertford: 8th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower);

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

Merchant: 17th April (10% open);

Stella: 15th April (10% open);

Sunburst: 17th April (10% open);



Blenheim Orange:

Bramley’s Seedling:

Cox’s Orange Pippin:

Crawley Beauty:


Egremont Russet: 17th April (10% open);

Falstaff: 18th April (10% open);


Fiesta/Red Pippin:


James Grieve:

Jonagold: 18th April (10% open);

Meridian: 18th April (10% open);

Red Astrachan: 6th April (10% open); 10th April (full flower);

St. Edmund’s Pippin: 17th April (10% open);

Worcester Pearmain: