Archive for the ‘Brogdale’ Category

Early Rivers cherry at the National Fruit Collection, Kent.

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

An early start to the warm weather has really brought on the flowering for this year, as I’m sure you’re aware. The plums are roughly a couple of weeks earlier compared to last year. As an example, Victoria was in full bloom this year on 30th March – earlier than the 10th April noted for last year; the current 10 year mean (the average full bloom date) for Victoria is 8th April.

Although a number of the cherries in the Collection have yet to come into flower, the earlier varieties, again, have responded to the warm weather and Lapins reached full bloom on the 2nd April. It was the 23rd April last year and Lapins’ 10-year mean is 16th April.

The pear orchard is a sea of white once more as the trees have responded to the temperatures. Louise Bonne of Jersey, one of the early flowerers in the Pear Collection, was in full bloom on the 30th March. Last year saw it at full bloom on the 15th April, pretty much spot on for its average of 14th April.

The apples are just setting off and, of the early flowerers, Red Astrachan and Stark’s Earliest are already in full bloom. There is still a way to go yet with the Apple Collection and with the weather forecast to be a little cooler after the weekend there may be a fair gap this year between the early and late flowering varieties.

Lorinda Jewsbury



Cambridge Gage: 29th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower);

Czar: 20th March (10% open); 26th March (full flower);

Denniston’s Superb (Imperial Gage): 22nd March (10% open); 24th March (full flower);

Farleigh Damson: 25th March (10% open); 28th March (full flower);

Marjorie’s Seedling: 30th March (10% open); 1st April (full flower);

Oullins Gage: 28th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower);

Pershore Yellow Egg: 26th March (10% open); 28th March (full flower);

Victoria: 28th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower);



Concorde: 5th April (10% open);

Conference: 2nd April (10% open); 5th April (full flower);

Doyenné du Comice: 3rd April (10% open); 5th April (full flower);

Louise Bonne of Jersey: 28th March (10% open); 30th March (full flower);



Early Rivers: 30th March (10% open); 2nd April (full flower);

Hertford: 3rd April (10% open);

Lapins: 30th March (10% open); 2nd April (full flower);

Merchant: 4th April (10% open);

Stella: 5th April (10% open);




Blenheim Orange:

Bramley’s Seedling:

Cox’s Orange Pippin:

Crawley Beauty:


Egremont Russet:



Fiesta/Red Pippin:


James Grieve:



Red Astrachan: 31st March (10% open); 2nd April (full flower);

St. Edmund’s Pippin:

Worcester Pearmain:

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I listened with interest to the BBC Food Programme yesterday, Sunday 3 May, that again explored Brogdale in Kent, home of the National Fruit Collections. In essence the BBC was updating the story of the National Fruit Collections covered by the programme in the early 1990s and in 2007. I was pleased to hear that the position at Brogdale is significantly better than in 2007, but as the presenter Shelia Dillon pointed out the future for the Collections is still uncertain since the National Fruit Collections contract is due for renewal within the next 5 years. I would urge anyone interested in fruit or the Brogdale story to form their own view by either listening to Radio 4 today, Monday 4 May, at 16.00 when the programme is re-broadcast or to use the internet listen again facility .  I can only reiterate the view expressed on the programme that in order to ensure the future of the Collections people join the Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale.

Robert White

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Taynton Squash perry pear

Taynton Squash perry pear blossom in the National Fruit Collections

The new arrangements for the management of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale came into operation today. On 1 April the curatorship of the National Fruit Collections under the Defra contract passed to the University of Reading and responsibility for their day to day husbandry to FAST (Farm Advisory Services Team) who are now based at Brogdale. Public access to the Collections is in the hands of Brogdale Collections, the social enterprise company set up by Tony Hillier, director of Hillreed Land which owns Brogdale Farm, and Tom La Dell, a Kent based landscape architect.

Previously and for the past 18 years the curator of the Collections was Wye College which latterly became part of Imperial College, while the Brogdale Horticultural Trust undertook the maintenance of the Collections and was responsible for public access and facilities. The role of maintenance is now taken over by FAST and the public side by Brogdale Collections.

Guided walks of the National Fruit Collections began at Easter and, if we have some good weather, this will be magical experience as one fruit after another comes into flower. Myrobalans (cherry plums) and apricots have been blossoming for some time, plums are opening, cherries and pears will follow and finally apples. The next month or so is a perfect time to visit the Collections: Brogdale is near Faversham in Kent, only five minutes away from Junction 6 on the M2.

Fruit Forum

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As visitors to Fruit Forum will know Defra has decided that the National Fruit Collections will remain at Brogdale. Defra awarded the management contract for the Collections from April 2008 to the University of Reading, who will work in partnership with FAST (Farm Advisory Service Team) now based at Brogdale and Brogdale Collections, the social enterprise company set up by the landlord to manage the visitors.

There were five bidders for the Defra management contract, three of whom wished to retain the Collections at Brogdale and two that wished to move them to another site. The latter included the bid from Imperial College, East Malling Research and the Brogdale Horticultural Trust who wanted to relocate the Collections to East Malling, some twenty miles away.

Followers of this subject may like to listen to an interview with the chief executive of East Malling Research and his comments on the decision, which are posted on Kent TV, the county’s on-line television service.

To watch the video go to: http://www.kenttv.com/programmes.php?PID=669

Fruit Forum

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Friends of the Brogdale Horticultural Trust may be interested to read the article in today’s issue of the Daily Telegraph – Saturday 12 January – in the Gardening Section. You can read it on line at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/main.jhtml;jsessionid=J13GGA0IPTVOHQFIQMGSFFWAVCBQWIV0?xml=/gardening/2008/01/11/garden-fruit-collection111.xml&page=1

Fruit Forum

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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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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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