Tomcot apricot

Tomcot apricot

British grown apricots are currently in the news with home grown fruit on sale in supermarkets this year. This is remarkable. Apricots are a difficult fruit to grow successfully in the English climate for a number of reasons and in particular because the trees flower so early – before the plums and cherries. Their early blossom is often damaged by a spring frost with the consequent loss of a crop. In Kent, this year apricot trees were in flower during early to mid-April and pollination over by the end of the month. A time when other fruit tree blossoms, such as those of early varieties of apples, were at risk when the temperature fell to  – 3°C on Sunday April 26. The apricots escaped, it seems, and there is a good crop in Kent’s recently established apricot orchards.

Amateurs growing apricots are also benefiting from this year’s weather and enjoying home grown fruit. The above picture of an abundant harvest of the Tomcot apricot is of a tree growing in a polythene tunnel tunnel in Adrian Baggaley’s garden near Nottingham, sufficiently far north to need some protection to fruit well in any year.

Are other readers experiencing a good crop of apricots – do let us know. And it would be interesting to hear from readers in warmer climates where apricots fruit readily and reliably.

Fruit Forum



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


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