Orchards have long been a feature of the Worcestershire Countryside, apples for cider, eating and cooking and similar with pears and plums. The Vale of Evesham has a popular fruit blossom trail and because we are unable to visit it this year, I have created this blog post about the development of apple varieties in Worcestershire and a fruit blossom video trail of the fruit trees in Our Garden@19.
Following the Second World War government policy encouraged the grubbing up of orchards to grow more wheat, resulting in many old fruit varieties and orchards lost.
Today there is an increasing interest in restoring orchards with old local varieties of fruit, especially in village or community orchards. Hanley Swan and Welland both have a community orchard.
Worcestershire was responsible for the development of many varieties of apples.
This is the most well known of the county’s varieties and the only one still grown on any sort of commercial basis. It is believed to have originated from the pip of a Devonshire Quarrenden grown by a Mr Hale of Swan Pool, Worcester and was introduced as a commercial variety by Messers Smith of Worcester in 1874.
King Charles Pearmain
A dessert apple said to have been raised by Charles Taylor, a blacksmith of the village of Rushock in Worcestershire in 1821, is claimed by Hogg in 1876 to have been introduced commercially by nurseryman John Smith of Worcester. It is also known as Rushock Pearmain.
A late dessert apple whose name suggests an origin at Hindlip just north of Worcester, yet it was a Mr Watkins of Hereford who first submitted it to the RHS fruit committee in 1896.
(Hindlip Hall is now the Head Quarters of West Mercia Police).
This variety, as its name indicates, originates from the district of Newland just outside Malvern. According to the ‘Herefordshire Pomona’, the variety arose around 1800, supposedly from a pip that grew from a discarded pile of pomace (the pulp leftover from a cider press) at Newland Court.
This apple takes its name from Mr William Crump who was the one time head gardener at Madresfield Court near Malvern. He is credited with raising the variety and personally exhibited it in 1908 when it received an RHS Award of Merit. It is believed to be a cross between ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’ and a ‘Worcester Pearmain’.
Another of the older culinary apples that were no doubt displaced by the ‘Bramley’. It dates from 1908 when it was introduced by Rowe’s nursery of Worcester. Having been first recorded in 1902 it is thought to be a ‘Blenheim Orange’ X ‘Golden Noble’ and won a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award of Merit in 1903.
A quite different and distinctive russet, claimed by Herefordshire but associated with Pitmaston in Worcester. Some might be attracted to this particular apple by its reputation as being everything the supermarkets hate, being small, yellow and spotty yet with a fantastic taste!
It makes for a good garden tree with its moderately vigorous and upright growth pattern and the small fruit is ideal for children. The flesh is crisp, beneath a thick yellow skin with a russet of dots. Flavour is intense, being of a sweet, sharp and slightly nutty character and as the name suggests, with the slightest hint of pineapple.
As a tree, it is notably scab resistant although very prone to biennial cropping, with huge crops thrown one year and virtually nothing the next. The variety is neglected because of the small size of the apples. They are ripe from mid-September onwards and if stored well will keep until December.
The variety is thought to have arisen from the pip of a ‘Golden Pippin’ and although recorded in Hereford in 1785 it was introduced by Williams of the Pitmaston district of Worcester, hence its inclusion in this county list.
Pitmaston Russet Nonpareil.
This dessert fruit claims (by name) to be the ‘Pitmaston Russet’ beyond compare. It was raised at Pitmaston near Worcester by nurseryman John Williams.
The variety first fruited in 1814 before being formally introduced in 1818.
The skin is a bright green with varying levels of russet over it. The fruits have firm flesh with a rich, aromatic flavour. Will keep up to Christmas and beyond.
You cannot write an article about Worcestershire fruit without mentioning:
The Worcester Black Pear
History of the Black Pear The iconic ‘Worcester Black Pear’ appears today in places such as the City coat of arms, the County Council crest and the cricket and rugby club badges, whilst an image of the pear blossom was borne as a badge by the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry until 1956. The earliest reference to any pear associated with a crest is in relation to the Worcestershire Bowmen, depicting a pear tree laden with fruit on their banners at the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Drayton’s poem of Agincourt mentions the fruit, where it is referred to as the badge of Worcester: “Wor’ster a pear tree laden with its fruit”.
Tradition has it that during the visit of Queen Elizabeth I to Worcester in 1575 she saw a pear tree laden with black pears, which had been moved from the gardens at White Ladies and re-planted in her honour by the gate through which the queen was to enter the city. Noticing the tree Elizabeth is said to have directed the city to add three pears to its coat of arms.
The modern grafted Apple tree is well suited to any size garden. We have six in our Garden@19, Malus ‘Blenheim Orange’, ‘Grenadier’, ‘Hereford Russett’, ‘Kidd’s Orange Red’, ‘Rosette’ and of course Worcester Pearmain’. We also have the Cherry ‘Sunburst’, the Pear ‘Invincible’, a Plum, ‘Opal’, the ‘Cambridge Greengage’ and the Crab Apple ‘Golden Hornet’.
To view the fruit trees in blossom in Our Garden@19. Please turn up the sound select full screen, click play and enjoy.