Archive for November, 2007

The Frampton Magnum Plum?

The village of Frampton (Winterborne) Magnum in South Gloucester used to grow a plum commercially that was considered a seedling of Magnum Bonum, unique to the village, it was characterised by its mass of white blossom, which made it very ornamental in spring. A map of 1935 shows orchards of this plum scattered all over the village. Robertsons of Bristol used it for their jam manufacturing and it was also sold in the town’s shops.

I learnt this when, 7 years’ ago, I was working on the Brogdale Horticultural Trust’s Helpline when I received a phone call, asking whether there was a tree in the National Fruit Collections, which unfortunately there was not. The orchards of past years had unfortunately succumbed to the increasing need to build homes and by then, only one orchard was left, which had just received planning permission for housing.

I have now learnt that the village has planted a Community Orchard, in which they hope to add a tree of the Frampton Magnum, if one can be found. Unfortunately there are no records of the characteristics of this variety, so identification would be difficult, but if a reader knows of the existence of one, the village would be delighted. Any information will be passed to the orchard manager.

Howard Stringer

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I have just built conservatory. It has a triple glazed roof and double glazed sides,the concrete slab floor sits on a slab of insulating foam. It faces due south and I intend to keep it frost free. Does anyone have any experience of growing any of the following –
prickly pear

I need to know about rootstocks, pollination, etc. Can I buy any of these in the UK or online? If not I shall go to Spain. I want to confine them to an area 8 foot by 12 foot.

On another subject completely – a Swedish girl who worked for me today said that apples there are grafted onto rowan stock and this imparts extra large fruit size. Can this be true? Are rowan and apple even compatible?

Ian Sturrock


Loquat, Eriobotrya japonica ‘Tanaka’ growing against a house wall in Norfolk

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Readers of Fruit Forum will know of the legacy of nearly £400,000 received by the Brogdale Horticultural Trust sometime between 1 March 2006 and 28 February 2007 and bequeathed by a Friend (see below).

Today’s Faversham News (15 November) has published the following comments on this legacy made by the Trust’s chief executive:

‘Lady Jane Garrett expressed her delight at the generous donation. She said: “The money will be used for the future of the Brogdale Horticultural Trust. All our plans are sub judice until we know the outcome of Defra’s decision. It was a generous bequest and very timely. We are always pleased that the trust has so many friends.”

The Trust has had this bequest probably for a year – the donor died in December 2005 – yet it is still unable to make any public announcement as to what it intends to do with the money. Its accounts up to 28 February 2007 show that it has transferred £175, 362 of the legacy across to its trading subsidiary Brogdale Orchards Limited. The Trust’s future plans as stated by their chief executive in the press and recounted in another article in the same issue of the Faversham News are that ‘the Trust plans to move to the collection to East Malling’ if they win the bid.

Can moving the Collections and the Trust away from Brogdale be what the donor envisaged would happen? She had been a member of the Friends almost since the very beginning in 1990, but from the information coming out of the Friends and the Trust she could not have received any indication before her death that the Trust was involved in plans that would move the Collections away from Brogdale.

Joan Morgan

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The Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale have just sent another 1748 signatures to Defra urging that the Collections be retained at Brogdale. With the 400 plus signatures which were sent in July, this brings the total to over 2000.

Some of these signatures were gathered at events run at Brogdale over the last few months, others were received in the post from all parts of the country – an indication of the widespread support which the Collections and the Brogdale site enjoy.

This is no surprise to those of us who have attended some of the Festivals recently run at Brogdale and who have heard so many people express alarm and disbelief at the prospect of the Collections being moved from this site which 50 years ago was identified by MAFF (now Defra) as being the place in the UK best suited to growing a wide range of fruits.

Heather Hooper

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With great regret it is necessary to report that the Brogdale Horticultural Trust refuse to answer any questions that the Friends have put to them in the form of letters, nor does the Trust make any attempt to take part in any dialogue that would advance the interests of the Friends. As these questions involve the constitution of the Friends, this is a very serious matter indeed.

This does not enhance the reputation of the Brogdale Horticultural Trust and it is a very sad state of affairs for those who have the interests of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale at heart.

Simon Brice (Friend of the Brogdale Horticultural Trust and also Chairman of the Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale)

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Brogdale Horticultural Trust’s conduct continues to astonish. It receives nearly £400,000 as a bequest from a Friend and tells no one. In its accounts, for the year ending 28 February 2007, the Trust says that it ‘will be making arrangements to recognise this generosity appropriately’. So what appropriate memorial to the Friend’s generosity is to be established to benefit the charity’s objects? The donor and Friends might have thought that something permanent and long lasting for the National Fruit Collection would be appropriate. This could have been to buy land at Brogdale on which the National Fruit Collection is grown, after all the Trust’s net assets prior to the £400,000 legacy was only £30,000.

Unbelievably the trustees decided that the best thing to do with £175,000 was to immediately contribute it to its insolvent subsidiary Brogdale Orchards Limited. Yes this is the same Brogdale Orchards that had a County Court Judgement for non-payment of a £36,762 tax bill despite having received this £175,000 cash contribution.

What is even more remarkable is that even after receiving the £175,000 Brogdale Orchards could only report a small surplus for the year of £34,527 and it was still left with a balance sheet deficit at the end of 2007 of £(182,154). Readers will, of course, also appreciate that without the £175,000 legacy contribution Brogdale Orchards would have reported a massive loss for the year of £(140,835) and a deficit of £(357,416).

Losses at Brogdale Orchards have been reported from 1999 onwards but the 2007 position is extraordinary. Creditors of Brogdale Orchards including HM Revenue and Customs whose £36,762 tax bill was unpaid, until a County Court Judgement was served, will note that although their debts remain outstanding the Trust’s debt of £109,185 was repaid. Creditors could be forgiven for thinking that the Trust’s debt is given precedence and preference over other creditors’ debts.

Clearly the trustees believe that this contribution is the best way to use charitable monies from such a large legacy. However the contribution has all the appearance of being self-serving. Best practice and others might question whether this is the best use of charitable money.

Friends might wish to take this up with the Trust especially as at the Friends’ Special and Annual General Meetings in April 2007, the trustees appear to have decided to withhold this information from the Friends despite questions about its financial position.

Robert White

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Some people may have been puzzled by the Brogdale Horticultural Trust’s rather cavalier dismissal of the County Court Judgement for non-payment of £36,782 taxes to HM Revenue and Customs that could have been a prelude to the winding up of their trading subsidiary Brogdale Orchards Ltd., (to read reports click on links below). However, information has now come to light which accounts for this casual attitude. The Trust has been left a substantial legacy of £389,800. This is revealed in the Trust’s accounts for the year ending 28 February 2007, which have recently been published.

In the donor’s will, the Trust’s legacy of £389,800 was the largest of three bequests to charitable organisations – the others being to the Brooke Hospital for Animals (£7,500) and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (£7,500) – aside from personal bequests. The Trust’s share formed the remainder of the estate – ‘the balance therefore for the Brogdale Horticultural Trust, Brogdale Road, Faversham, Kent’. The will was made in November 2005. The Trust states in its accounts that it ‘will be making arrangements to recognise this generosity appropriately’, but as far as we are aware it has not yet done so, although it would seem appropriate to have informed the Friends of the Brogdale Horticultural Trust of this munificence by one of its members. The donor was a Friend of many years standing.

The Trust’s accounts show that after the legacy was received the Trust transferred nearly half – £175,362 – across to Brogdale Orchards Ltd. It appears that the Trust has used nearly half of the legacy to bail out its ailing trading company, rather than using it for its charitable work associated with the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale, as presumably the donor envisaged.

Joan Morgan




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Unable to be in two places at once, I tend each year to alternate my main Apple Day outings between the excellent display customarily put on at Harlow Carr by the Northern Fruit Group or the all singing, all dancing event at the National Fruit Collection’s home at Brogdale. This year it was Brogdale’s turn but, following some earlier, puzzling uncertainty about whether the traditional Apple Day celebrations at Brogdale would happen, I was relieved and delighted to hear that this important and popular event would after all be taking place. Not to have an Apple Day celebration on Apple Day, at the home of the National Fruit Collections would have been bizarre and unthinkable. Top marks and thanks therefore to both groups of Friends of the Brogdale Fruit Collections, Brogdale staff and to our landlord, for making sure that it happened.

Making the long trip from Yorkshire worthwhile there was the usual bustle of activity with food stalls (I did enjoy my curry!), a cider stall, cookery demonstrations, music, old friends to talk to, fruit to taste and buy and of course, the display of varieties. Fruit from the Collections was not however on display. I gather that this was because, despite there being plenty of fruit available and knowledgeable people willing to gather and display it, the Brogdale Horticultural Trust had forbidden this to happen. Consequently, there was not the usual vast display of varieties.

It was disappointing for Friends not to be able to see fruit from the Collections that they have supported so loyally for so many years, on display in their established home. However whilst the display produced by Friends was smaller than hitherto if anything, the quality was better than usual and it did exactly what is needed for the non-specialist general public by showing them that apple varieties exist in a profusion of shapes, sizes, colours and uses that they never dreamed possible. They could taste a good range of varieties and having learned that apples do not all taste the same and that different members of the party had different preferences, buy the ones they liked at a price that encouraged them to do so. Those who wanted to see more varieties could however do so in the field for, despite everything, plenty of our enthusiastic guides had turned out and it was encouraging to hear people being advised to ‘wait for the next tour because this one’s already a bit full.’

People turned up with fruit to identify and questions to ask and such was the demand that, even as a bystander, I ended up being roped in to answer some of them. It was all great fun! Importantly, young people, the customers and hopefully the fruit growers of the future, were there in good numbers, clearly engaged by what they saw and enjoying themselves. Although I have seen this many times before, I have never quite got over the surprise I feel when I see a younger generation, reputed to care only for computer games and other electronic entertainment, openly enthusing over a display of apples. Seeing this gives me as much pleasure as seeing the displays themselves.

Finally, and there is no other way to say this, for the Brogdale Horticultural Trust to exhibit elsewhere, broadening public awareness of the collections, was no bad thing. To do so at the expense of the Apple Day celebrations at Brogdale was however a silly and quite unnecessary own goal that can only have done further damage to their standing with their Friends at a time when what they most need to do is rebuild bridges.

Barry Potter

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It is no secret now that East Malling Research is one of the bidders for management of the National Fruit Collections from 2008, in partnership with Brogdale Horticultural Trust and Imperial College at Wye, and if they win they intend to move the Collections to East Malling. The current issue of Horticulture Week reports that East Malling plans to make eleven redundancies among it staff from 2008. (http://www.hortweek.com/news_story.cfm?ID=2916) Unofficial sources claim these redundancies focus on the breeding work on tree fruits. This cannot be good news for East Malling’s bid to manage the Collections, which are primarily a collection of tree fruits.

Joan Morgan

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Online Apple Exhibition

For anyone interested in apples in art, I would highly recommend looking at the online exhibition put together by the Prints and Books department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, to celebrate Apple Day.

Go to the V & A website, www.vam.ac.uk and then find and click on Prints and Books and then ‘A is for Apple’.

The originals are all from the V & A Collection and I have been to look at the album of Charles Jones photographs. The page of apple photographs in the exhibition, (also available to buy as a postcard) is the only page of apples but the album contains several pages of photographs of pears as well as charming family photographs including one of a ghost!

The exhibition will be online until the 17th January but may be kept for longer.

Alison Lean

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