Sunday, 30 October 2011

Two more unidentified varieties

Some unidentified apples from my in-law's garden. The apple was supposed to be an Ard Cairn Russet, this tree was the first apple I grafted, from wood bought from the dreadful fruit nursery Deacon's. The tree is about 10 year old now, and this is the first year it has had a heavy crop to evaluate. I'd already had several other trees and graft wood varieties bought from Deacon's turn out to be completely wrong, here is another one to add to the list. The fruits are medium-sized, very hard and greasy, obviously a very late variety. My father-in-law picked them all far too early (he has early stage dementia so can't really be reasoned with) so they may shrivel before they ripen properly.

I've been going through the catalogues, can't find anything that is a particularly good match for appearance/lateness, Winter Pearmain comes the closest, (based on description in Joan Morgan's The Book of Apples).

The other one is from the enormous and ancient pear tree growing on the wall of my in-law's 17th century farmhouse. It only started to produce fruit a few years ago, after I gave them a Conference to see if a pollination partner would induce it to produce fruit. This worked, and some steady work on pruning the monster has gradually brought it back into producing healthy fruit (rather than scabby little things of the first few years).

The tree is probably at least 70 years old, probably older. It's grafted on to Pyrus communis stock. I have read that can have a negative effect on fruit flavour/quality, but without grafting some onto a quince stock, I can't really make a comparison.

The fruit is loosely pyriform, sometimes highly irregular. It has a slightly musky flavour, and a slightly bitter flavour permeates the flesh as well as the skin. Some of the qualities remind me of Gorham, but the season is far too late, they are rock hard through most of October, just beginning to soften now. The descriptions sound like Vicar of Winkfield but it's rather earlier and more highly russetted than the latter. I will have to get Bunyard out and go through all the old varieties again I think.

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