Archive for December, 2007

Does anyone know where large, fully mature fruit trees, such as apple, can be bought? I mean fully mature, say, 30-40 year old trees.

Transplantation of very large trees (of all species) seems to be more and more commonplace these days. The company ‘Standard Trees’ in Sussex supplies mature trees as a matter of course: http://www.standardtrees.co.uk/maturetrees.html; although they don’t seem to do fruit trees.

We have a couple acres with many wonderful apple trees of different types. There are a couple of ‘holes’ and I think it would be interesting to do an experiment of transplanting massive trees. It would be great to be able to buy ‘champion’, as it were, full size apple or perhaps other fruit trees and go through the process of transplanting with heavy equipment, etc.

But I just can’t seem to find any information on this, online or off line. I have heard vaguely that sometimes orchards will ‘sell their trees’ but I have no hard facts on this whatsoever.

I really appreciate it if anyone can help on this. My tree surveyor and me have both drawn a blank.

John May

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In the very last issue of Fruit News to be published I wrote ‘… if the Trust did indeed lose control of the Collections, it would, so far as I can see, leave the Friends [of Brogdale Horticultural Trust] in limbo – for we would have no connection with the new controller of the Collections, nor with the Collections themselves.’ The Brogdale Horticultural Trust has now acknowledged that it will be giving up control of the Collections at the end of March 2008, and goes on to say it will now consider how best the objectives of the Trust can be furthered in the future. It is not clear if the Trust itself intends to continue in existence after that time – although it is not easy to see how it may do so with both its raison d’etre and chief source of income missing.

So where does this leave the Friends of Brogdale Horticultural Trust? I have already ventured the opinion (in the Fruit News, above) that the main interest of most Friends is the Collections themselves; but, in the light of events, it would appear that such interest cannot be maintained by remaining Friends of Brogdale Horticultural Trust – even if that body continues to exist.

It is said that the committee of the Friends of Brogdale Trust will meet in the New Year to review the situation, but it is difficult to see what they will be able to do after March 2008 to further the interests of the National Fruit Collections. They can remain in being to further the interests of Brogdale Horticultural Trust – whatever they may be – but they can have little, if any, influence on the National Fruit Collections after that date.

It is for the committee to make its decisions, and it is for every Friend to make up his or her own mind; but may I suggest the body which most nearly represents their requirements is Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale.

Jim Streeton


Contact:  Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale, PO Box 264, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3UY; nfcfriends@hotmail.co.uk

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Browsing second-hand bookshops in London last week I came upon another reference to Edward Bunyard’s interest in cultivating scented violets. Is there no limit to his activities? Yet it is not really surprising that Bunyard also collected violets, for like the old varieties of roses and apples, it was a flower that would have appealed to his love of old fashioned quality.

With a bit of time to spare I went into the food hall at Fortnum and Mason wondering what today’s epicure with a few euros to spare might be able to buy in the way of quality English fruit for the Christmas table – Ashmead’s Kernel perhaps, or a made-up basket of four or five quality apples or pears? No such luck. This year the fruit has been cleared away to the basement along with the fish, to make way for mountains of chocolates on the ground-floor. The fruit on offer was meagre – Russet, Cox and Braeburn apples, Conference and very red Bartlett pears, all of unspecified origin – along with some limp vegetables and on the fish slab a brill, at either end labelled ‘plaice’ !

By the afternoon I worked my way to the Brompton Road area for more books. So I called in Harrod’s Food Halls. Everything as it used to be here, all on the ground floor and not stuffed down the basement. But the fruit was little or no better than Fortnum and Mason. Except there were Bramley apples and pears looking like Williams’ (very yellow) but described as Beurré Hardy, a few grapes including Chasselas at around £26 per kilo and a better selection of fresher looking vegetables. The brill on the fish slab definitely winked at me as I passed and it was correctly labelled.

In Borough Market last year Elsey and Bent were selling a dozen different varieties of apples from a named Hampshire grower, which included Ashmead’s Kernel, on their stalls in Borough Market. This year only the usual Cox, Breaburn and Russet were on offer. What is the epicure to do in London?

Ian Harrison

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It is very good news indeed that the National Fruit Collections are to remain at Brogdale. Thank you all so much for your support in the campaign to keep the Collections in their established home. Thank you for the letters you wrote to Defra, to your MPs and to Lord Rooker, your signatures to our petition and contributions to the debate on Fruit Forum: it was a united effort that brought the right result.

We now look forward to hearing the details of the University of Reading’s plans for the next five years. Their bid was a partnership between the University, who will take care of the curatorship and undertake research, FAST (Fruit Advisory Services Team based in Faversham), who will supervise the maintenance of the orchards, and Brogdale Collections (Social Enterprise Company set up by Tony Hillier and Tom La Dell), who will look after the visitors.

Have a happy Christmas and a good New Year!

Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale

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Defra announced today, 19 December, that the National Fruit Collections will remain at Brogdale for the foreseeable future. The contract for their management has been awarded to the University of Reading, which will take over their maintenance and curation from April 2008.

In the press release from Defra, Lord Rooker has said ‘The long term security of the collections has always been our main priority therefore we welcome the decision for the National Fruit Collection to remain at Brogdale. Local support stressing the importance of retaining the collections at Brogdale has been continuous since the start of the tendering process and we are delighted with the final outcome and to be working alongside Reading as the new curators. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Brogdale Horticultural Trust and Imperial College for their support over the years in managing and curating the collections.’

The tremendous amount of public support there has been for keeping the Collections at Brogdale played a part: ‘Defra has received over 60 representations from members of the public, all of whom have asked that the collections remain at Brogdale. One of these letters included a petition with over 2000 signatures. Defra have also had letters from Faversham Town Council and Swale Borough Council stressing the importance of retaining the collections at Brogdale.’

Absolutely wonderful news and a victory for common sense!

see http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2007/071219a.htm

Fruit Forum

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At a meeting of the Kent County Council Cabinet on Monday, 17 December, the future of the National Fruit Collections was discussed.

As a result Councillor and cabinet member, Roger Gough, has written to Lord Rooker and Defra in a letter which ’represents Kent County Council’s official position and supersedes any previous communication’, referring, one presumes, to his letter of 10 May, which gave KCC’s specific support to the Imperial College, Brogdale Trust and East Malling bid involving relocation of the Collections to East Malling. That specific support has been withdrawn and replaced by general support for any bid that retains the Collections in Kent, as he has subsequently ‘become aware a number of bids have been made supporting retention of the collection on the Brogdale site, and believe that some or all of these have a strong scientific basis’.

We welcome this decision, although we had hoped that KCC would follow the path taken by its Scrutiny Committee, which gave unqualified support to the retention of the Collections at Brogdale (see post below).

To read both of these letters click here KCC to Defra 10 May 07 and here KCC to Rooker 17 Dec 07

Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale

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Yesterday, 12 December, Kent County Council Scrutiny Committee unanimously agreed that they would write to the Defra Minister in support of retaining the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale. They also agreed to refer the matter back to KCC Cabinet as a matter of urgency in the hope that Cabinet would also support the retention of the Collections at Brogdale.

This situation arose because, back in early May, KCC wrote to Defra recommending that the best option for the future management of the National Fruit Collections was the bid from Brogdale Horticultural Trust and East Malling Research and relocation of the Collections to East Malling (no mention of the Imperial at Wye partner). The letter was written by KCC Cabinet member, Roger Gough, who claimed that he was only aware of one bid and he appeared to have taken this view without discussing it with other cabinet members and councillors. His opinion has remained unaltered, despite the fact that Swale Borough Council support the Collections remaining at Brogdale and there has been widespread opposition to the idea of their relocation.

Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale succeeded in bringing this issue to the attention of Councillor Trudy Dean, a member of the KCC Scrutiny Committee and councillor for East Malling, who brought it to yesterday’s meeting. Friends presented the case for keeping the Collections at Brogdale through a written and oral statement and we were present during the discussion.

It was revealed by Mr Gough under questioning that he had received his information on the Trust and East Malling’s bid in mid-March through trustees of the Brogdale Trust. He admitted that he had taken the decision to write his letter of support in favour of relocation of the Collections under the name of KCC without referring it to other members of the KCC Cabinet. But the Scrutiny Committee was not happy with the way in which the matter had been dealt with, believing that all councillors should have been involved. The Scrutiny Committee has now reversed the situation and are writing to Defra in support of keeping the Collections at Brogdale. We understand that this decision supersedes the decision made by Roger Gough and we hope the KCC cabinet will also agree to support retaining this unique British asset in its established home at Brogdale.

Simon Brice, Heather Hooper, Joan Morgan


For an account of the meeting see also http://www.kent.libdems.org.uk/news/000199/lib_dems_force_kcc_u_turn_on_brogdale.html

The letter written to Defra by Roger Gough in May 2007 is published in the Cabinet Scrutiny agenda for their meeting last week – see


Tomorrow, 17 December 2007 KCC Cabinet will consider the matter.

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A decision is anticipated by the end of the year from Defra on the National Fruit Collections and Brogdale: that is whether the Collections will remain at Brogdale or be moved elsewhere and who will be their managers in the future. We understand that there are five bidders for this Defra tender – three who will keep the Collections at Brogdale and two who want to relocate the Collections. The latter includes the partnership between the present managers – the Brogdale Horticultural Trust and Imperial College at Wye – and East Malling Research and relocation to East Malling, some 20 miles away.

Since the possibility that the Collections might be relocated emerged at the beginning of the year, tremendous opposition has been voiced. The Trust’s own Friends passed a resolution that meant in effect they only supported the Trust whilst it maintained the Collections at Brogdale. Carrying the spirit of that resolution forward a new separate organisation, the Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale, formed to campaign to keep the Collections at Brogdale; they have sent over 2,000 signatures to Defra in support of retaining the Collections at Brogdale. Many people (either as individuals or through their MPs) have written to Defra in opposition to moving the Collections. The local Swale Borough Council has lobbied Defra to keep the Collections at Brogdale. But Kent County Council have recommended moving the Collections to East Malling; why they made this decision has never been revealed.

As readers to this web-site will be well aware the National Fruit Collections have been growing at Brogdale for the past fifty years. In that time a great deal of work has resulted in them becoming the finest collections of temperate fruits in the world, backed by fifty years of records, which are unparalleled in any other fruit collection. To move the Collections elsewhere would break this continuity and mean starting all over again.

The Collections are not only an invaluable global genetic resource but also part of the UK’s and many other nations’ cultural and economic heritage. Defra have recognised the educational and historic role that the Collections play in the present tender for their management. At Brogdale the Collections have been open to the public for the past 17 years, during which time they have achieved considerable prominence, even the envy of other countries. Brogdale and the Collections are associated in everyone’s minds and to break that connection would be to throw away years of national and international good will that would not easily be regained at another location.

The Brogdale site was chosen by MAFF, now Defra, for its suitability for reliably growing a wide range of fruits. Nothing has changed in this regard. Its soils and climate remain ideal and its location near the sea, together with a slight elevation, provides some protection from the harmful effects of spring frosts. Another site may not be so ideally suited. The Brogdale site is equipped for growing and using Collections with all the infrastructure present. To move the Collections would involve considerable expense and time, not only for the repropagation and verification of the new Collections, but also for the recreation of the infrastructure and the facilities for public access.

There are no good reasons for relocating the Collections. None of those advanced have any substance whatsoever. It has been alleged that the Brogdale site is not secure and does not have a long-term future, since the Defra lease on the land comes to an end in 2016. But Defra have an automatic right to renewal for a further 25 years and the landlord has offered to extend this to 2050. Furthermore, the landlord is currently investing £1million in refurbishing the site to make it more attractive to visitors and has established a social enterprise company to organise visitor events; six have been staged this year. This all adds to the long-term security of Brogdale as a permanent home for the Collections rather than the reverse.

The Brogdale Horticultural Trust’s poor relationship with the landlord has also been put forward as a reason for relocation; the Trust moved its administration elsewhere in March 2007 and as we have seen is now a partner in a bid to relocate the Collections. But the Trust’s difficulties with its landlord are no reason for moving the Collections. The Trust’s future and that of the Collections are quite separate issues.

It has been suggested that the Collections are in need of repropagation (a part of their routine husbandry) and that this therefore presents an opportune time to move the Collections. But this is also not a valid reason. The Apple Collection is coming up for repropagation, but the Pear Collection has already been repropagated and is awaiting planting. The Cherry, Plum, Nut and Soft Fruit Collections have all been recently repropagated and will not need to be done again for some twenty or more years. In these cases moving the Collections would involve duplication of work that Defra has already funded.

Organisations lobbying for relocation are perhaps looking to their own survival rather than the best interests of the Collections. At Brogdale, the Collections have a secure future as a living collection. To move the Collections would be to put them at risk and threaten them with a reduction in the number of varieties in the name of so-called rationalisation. The Collections might be split with one collection of fruits going to one site and another collection to an alternative location. The Collections might be grown in a smaller area and as a result in a more compact way, as cordons, for example, rather than bush trees, thus greatly diminishing the pleasure of seeing the trees and offering considerably less fruit. The Collections might not be open to the public or only for limited periods at another site. It may also present the opportunity to put part of the Collections in a deep freeze, conserved as cryopreserved samples, rather than growing them as living trees.

We urge Defra to choose the common sense solution, which is also the most economical and least disruptive – to keep this unique British asset at its established home at Brogdale.

Joan Morgan

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I first saw pear rust in my orchard in Nottinghamshire three years ago on the leaves of a Doyenné du Comice tree, and it is rapidly spreading . My scab spray programme has controlled it, but I only spray those trees sensitive to scab. Beurré Bedford is scab resistant, but has proved to be prone to pear rust. I pick the affected leaves off, but this year found it on the fruit. I have never seen or heard of pear rust attacking the fruit, but in early October I found my fingers covered in brown dust after picking up a partly obscured fruit from a box of pears. On closer examination I could see several tubular growths clustered together like miniature chimneys, covered in the brown dust of fungal spores.

Has anyone else found pear rust on their fruit and how widespread is pear rust in England?

Adrian Baggaley



Pear rust on Beurré Bedford fruit

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