Remember the Ballerina apple trees? Introduced back in 1989 they developed naturally into narrow columns, like vertical cordons, but without the need for any pruning. They had names like ‘Bolero’, ‘Polka’ and ‘Waltz’ and they looked good, were ideal in small spaces and as features in potagers, and need no pruning. But they were prone to disease, I remember seeing trees almost bare after their mildewed leaves had dropped off. And the flavour was not very good, either.
However, now we have a whole new series of vertical varieties, the Starline apples, which grow in the same way but which are disease resistant and a big step forward in terms of quality.
All five varieties are resistant to both scab and mildew so there’s no need to worry about the main apple diseases and no fungicide spraying needed.
Andy McIndoe of Hillier Nurseries, who are listing these new apples, has been growing them in in his own garden. He was impressed by their flavour: “Starline apples ripen from August through to late October according to variety,” he told me.
“‘Blue Moon’ is the first to mature, sweet and fragrant and reminiscent of 'Worcester' with a hint of pear drops. ‘Fire Dance’, the prettiest of the group, is sharp and crisp and an ideal size for snacking. ‘Greenfinch’ has a typical green-apple flavour, very firm and crisp flesh and sharp juice.” (At the time of writing, the others are not ready to taste).
‘Blue Moon’ (right, below) has crisp, juicy, purplish-blue apples with a flavour that combines sweetness and sharpness and is ready in August and September.
‘Fire Dance’ (right, above) has crisp, bright yellow-orange apples with a slightly sharp flavour and is ready in September and October.
‘Garden Fountain’ has greenish yellow fruits with mild, balanced flavour and is ready in September and October.
‘Golden Gate’ (left) is bright orange red with firm flesh and sharp flavour and it too can be picked in September and October.
‘Greenfinch’ has large green apples with firm, crisp flesh and a slightly acid flavour and is ready in September and October.
All five varieties crop heavily and keep for a few weeks in storage after picking. And all five are available from the Wisley Plant Centre* and Hillier Garden Centres.
*Note: no mail order
** Please note the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author and are not necessarily those of the RHS **