Centuries-old apple varieties in new orchard
16 March 2010
Some of Cornwall's oldest apple varieties are being given a new lease of life in an orchard being planted at Trewithen Gardens near Truro.
They include 'Cornish Aromatic', a sweet, richly-flavoured dessert apple, and the 'Cornish Gilliflower' with its distinctive knobbly fruit, both at least 300 years old. They were used as parent stock by the founder of the garden, Sir Christopher Hawkins, in extensive apple breeding programmes which produced dozens of new varieties.
The original plants no longer survive, and nor do records of the hybrids from which Sir Christopher produced them. However, head gardener Gary Long has been able to reintroduce both parent varieties to the orchard from stock held by tree suppliers Thornhayes Nursery in Devon, and has also added other varieties grown at the same period which trace their roots back to these parents. These may or may not be the products of Sir Christopher's breeding programme, and include the red-striped 'Ben's Red', and the 'Duke of Cornwall', a cooker with exceptional storing qualities.
The orchard is being planted alongside the roses in Trewithen's rose garden to extend the season of interest and highlight the connection between apples and roses, both members of the Rosaceae family.
Trewithen is an RHS Recommended Garden and is open until 30 September.