Andalucia and a Million Olive Trees



Last year I reported on a trip to  the Jerte Valley in Extradamura where I saw many Cherry trees. And in fact upon my return i found them for sale at a farm shop in Angus! Last month ( March)  I was again in Spain and visited both Madrid and Cordoba Botanic Gardens. Both had collections of herbs and fruit trees, but Cordoba also had splendid indoor displays of Olive, Vine and other traditional crops used for making baskets. However my best experience was seeing the extent of Olive growing in the south of Spain as I literally cycled through 200km of Olive Orchards! I am beginning to get the impression that Spain does its horticulture at a big scale. If ever there were a disease to hit these trees, then the economy of the region would collapse overnight.

The last of the trees along the Via Verde del Aceite were being harvested as i cycled by in early March; I scrumped a few, and was surprised to find them bitter and producing a red stain on my fingers. So much for olive green!



Apparently ( according to wiki) they all need to be partially fermented to make them palatable. I saw men using sticks and a Stihl machine with a long vibrating pole to shake off the last fruits, which were then raked up by hand.

Surprisingly few varieties are grown commercially, and the dozen or so countries growing them tend to have their own favourite varieties. It is a growing industry, olives as we know being associated with healthy diets. Spain is by far the biggest producer, followed by Italy, Greece, Turkey and Morocco, with US and China all getting in on the act it seems.

It is suggested that they are not self-fertile, so a mix of varieties is necessary. I couldn’t discern a mix of trees myself, but there were orchards with a slightly greener leaf colour. The pollen can cause considerable irritation and it is windblown to boot. Glad I don’t live next door to an Olive Farm!

My biggest concern was the fact that there was no ground flora beneath these orchards, or very rarely a patch of yellow flowers, and as a consequence the heavy rains have caused a considerable amount of erosion on the hillsides. The area I travelled through was predominantly limestone and I would have expect to see a good number of flowers.


Pruning was being carried out in many orchards, and seems to be quite brutal with big limbs being cut out of the middle of the trees with chainsaws. Presumably this is to let light in, and to facilitate easier harvesting with many horizontal branches. The spacing between the trees was very wide, well over 8m. Only later from the train window did I see some intensive orchards, with trees planted very close together in lines 3m apart or so. These were quite possibly pruned with hedgetrimmers. I wonder what the productivity is of these trees compared to the more extensive systems? Unfortunately i couldn’t find anyone to ask.

However i’m now back home and enjoying some big Olives Margaret bought at the Deli in Dunkeld. Alas I don’t know where they came from but I will be taking more interest as to where they originated and the variety in future!


Andrew March 2018.


Fruit Tree Availability List Jan 2018

We are in the process of stocktaking, and we have the following available:




Arbroath Oslin – 13                       Laxton’s Fortune – 4

Hawthornden – 2                           Bloody Ploughman – 13

Belle de Boskoop – 6                     Thorle Pippin – 1

Maggie Sinclair – 3                        Kidd’s Orange Red – 2

Ard Cairn Russet – 6                     Adam’s Pearmain – 3

Cutler Grieve – 5                          Bramley Seedling – 1

Beauty of Moray – 7                      Katy – 1

Exeter Cross – 5                           Emneth Early – 1

Fiesta – 3                                      Seaton House – 1

Annie Elizabeth – 11                       Ribston Pippin – 1

Charles Ross – 2                            Charles Ross – 7

Early Julyan – 8                            Herefordshire Russet – 5

East Lothian Pippin – 5                  Red Devil – 1

Lass o’ Gowrie – 20                      Tydeman’s Late Orange – 1

Howgate Wonder – 3                    Kidd’s Orange Red – 6

Hood’s Supreme – 2                      Exeter Cross – 4

Liberty – 4                                             Adam’ Pearmain – 3

Monarch – 10                                 Laxton’s Fortune – 3

Port Allen Russet – 7                    Red Windsor – 2

Reinette Gris – 9                          Saturn – 2

Stoke Red – 1                                George Cave – 1

Stirling Castle – 12                       Hood’s Supreme – 15

Stobo Castle – 8


Wild Crabs and Runaways

Crab Apple


What an amazing harvest this year, ‘bushelfuls’ of apples and some very big ripe pears too! Our apple masher and press has been put to very good use, the record probably achieved at a busy Blairgowrie Market with over 350 litres of juice produced. Many people are noticing that a mix of cookers and eaters makes the best juice, the extra acidity giving it a wow factor.

The William’s pear tree opposite the cross roads at Caputh was hanging with beautiful ripe yellow pears just last week. Glad to see someone has picked them now. And many a pear on a south facing wall have done well this year.

However, our heritage pears in Scotland can often be like little bullets for weeks, then suddenly go soft in the middle! Very different to shop bought pears. You need to keep testing them and get them on the right day.

The warm weather in May really got our fruit expanding well, my James Grieves and many others being a good size and colour this year. Despite the wet weather in August, scab lesions have been relatively low this year.

Here at Middlebank we have hardly been able to keep up with the falling fruit….and many have rolled down the hill to the delight of our neighbours! There are disadvantages to planting trees on a hill! Also our Worcester Pearmain has been underplanted with various perenials and roses, all making collecting windfalls impossible. So the lesson is, plant your trees in your lawn ideally!

Budding percentages were very high last August, resulting in a very good crop of trees for sale this winter. And they have continued to grow in the warm summer, so feel free to come and inspect before ordering, though some popular varieties are now almost sold out.

Foraging ( and scrumping) has been very rewarding this season too, ranging from Seaweeds from Saltcoats, Mirabelles from Murthly and Birch Boletes from Birnam….. but note we only take a few for our own use. We saw a forager waltz off to a local chef with what he thought was a basket of Chanterelles in Dunkeld, and no protest from Margaret could dissuade him otherwise of his catch! Beware a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous! We have avoided the local hotels as a consequence!

My favourite little Crab Apple high up on Birnam Hill was fabulous in flower, but alas produced a poor crop of crabs. I have saved a few from the voles, and intend to sow them for replanting somewhere wild in a few years!

Happy foraging and harvesting all!

Cherries in Jerte Valley

On my travels in Spain in April I came across an amazing horticultural enterprise on the border between Castille y Leon and Extremadura.

I took a bus from Avila at !200m elevation, down to Plasencia at 400m, which takes you off the high plains and winds down between the heights of the Gredos Mountains.  And it is here that my eyes were astounded by the numbers of flowering cherry trees that line the valley for the next 40 km!  Lots of terraces well up the mountainside allow cherry planting almost to the summits on either side! Hundreds of thousands of trees! One website suggests there are 10,000 ha. and as many as 4,000 growers. The orchards spread east and west on terraced land.cherries jerte valley

Further investigation took me back up the valley to a Cherry Museum where I learnt that these trees are part of one big co-operative and make their way into a variety of products. I was very lucky to catch the end of the flowering season, the hot weather shortening this somewhat this year.

So i wonder, has anyone come across Jerte Valley cherries in this country? The variety grown is the Picota though judging by some late flowers, a few others are planted too. The co-op supplies Lidl so look out for the fruits later in the year. One of the production sheds processes 40,000kg per day!

This is horticulture on an industrial scale!  Maybe we can learn something here relevant to Scotland?  I am passionate about the loss of horticulture in the Glens of Scotland, a result of hundreds of years of depopulation, yet here in rural Spain it has survived and thrived despite a similar history of emigration to the Spanish colonies.

I often get cars stopping at the field to ask what I am growing in one of the Perthshire Glens and always get a surprised look when I say it is apple trees! Just imagine if it was a whole valley of apple trees from Pitlochry and Aberfeldy to Perth!

See: for more information….you can even spend a few days picking fruit with the farmers if you want! A great place to see the real Spain, with many mountain biking and hiking trails too. And the Albergue Santa Anna in Plasencia is one of the nicest hostels I have ever stayed in!

Andrew, 2017


Tree Orders

We are making preparations to lift bare root trees in 3 weeks time, so please get your orders in soon for fruit trees and soft fruit ! Our catalogue can be found on the website or just send your enquiry by email.


You may have come across Aronia juice, a new superfood full of anti-oxidants, but are you aware we can grow them here in Scotland? Aronias have the common name ,Chokeberries, a name which doesn’t do it any favours!

It is a small deciduous shrub, several of which I have been growing in my field for the black fruits and lovely white flowers in spring.The fruits are  about 7mm wide, similar to blueberries or even blackcurrants, and with no big seed inside like a damson.

There are several species and varieties. The Black Chokeberry is A. melanocarpa, A. arbutifolia is the Red Chokeberry, the hybrid of the two is the Purple Chokeberry, prunifolia. I haven’t tasted the red form, I wonder if there’s one in a botanic garden somewhere?  They are reportedly sweeter.

They are all native to North Eastern United States. though some naturalization has occurred in Europe. They have a long history of use by native American Indians as a food, medicine and a dye plant.

They are very hardy, and equally heat tolerant in the US zones from 3 to 8.

The varieties “Brilliant’ , ‘Nero’, ‘Viking’ and ‘Autumn Magic’ can all be found in Garden Centres and have been selected for their fabulous autumn colouring. They are however all strikingly attractive wee shrubs for the shrubbery or woodland edge. Viking can grow to 6 feet, Nero is shorter, at 4 feet, but has larger fruit.

The leaves are reportedly used to make a tea, but it is the slightly earthy tasting, mildly sweet black berries in summer which are of most interest. My two year old little black chokeberry bushes produced a really nice crop last summer. Eaten straight off the bush I rather liked them ….so many apples and pears these days are too sweet for my taste.

The native black chokeberry is only 1.5m high and spreads by root suckers to about 3m wide, so it forms a nice compact little bush. The red form is a touch taller.

Aronias have been grown in Europe for a long time now, but only recently been considered a commercially viable crop. In Poland, many thousands of hectares have been planted for juicing. They use a selected form, Galicjanka, a tetraploid Nero form specially chosen for planting in rows and for harvesting by machine. It was selected at the Institute of Pomology in Albigowa, South East Poland for its productivity and evenness of ripening.Despite being of the rosaceae family, they are all reported to be relatively pest free and tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, though preferably not too wet, and definitely not too dry. Not a problem here! Watch out for powdery mildew though.

Varieties are all propagated by root suckers. We have a few to sell here at the nursery ; more varieties will be sourced and trialed in future years!

A.Lear. 2016.






Heritage Pears

I have for several years now been propagating some of Scotland’s old pear varieties. Between Perth and Dundee there are still a few very old orchards with big productive old trees, perhaps 200 years old, many hollowed out, and each year more of them blow over. The race to save these varieties has never been more important. One way of doing this is to propagate by grafting. This involves taking a healthy twig off the tree and grafting it onto a specially grown pear rootstock.
I have been working with The Heritage Pear Project nationwide, a group of volunteers attempting to improve their pear dentification skills, and going out into orchards locating and propagating those unknown or rare varieties. Contrary to popular belief, these pear trees produce tonnes of fruit, unlike many of the dwarf modern varieties planted in our back gardens today.
In the Carse of Gowrie, I have been particularly interested to propagate those trees identified as unknown in a DNA survey carried out by the University of Reading for Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust. This survey pulled out some unusual varieties such as Windsor, Chaumontel, and Laxton’s Superb ( yes I thought this was an Apple only!). More predictable was the regular occurence of Hessle, Craig’s Favourite ( a Perth variety ), and Green Pear of Yair from the Borders. The well known Conference was found at Ballendean, together with Buerre D’Amanlis, plus Catillac, a large triploid cooking pear and Swan’s Egg at Megginch Catsle.
All very interesting, but equally so, around a quarter of those tested proved to have no matching trees at the National Collection in Kent. Which means they they could be seedlings bred by local fruit growers such as Patrick Mathew over hundred years ago, or perhaps simply a named variety from Belgium or France not represented in the Kent collection.
So, over the last few years I have been propagating a few of these un-named trees before they collapse and are lost for ever. Occassionally we have some spare to sell, they may not be named, but simply have a number! If you have a big garden and space for a big pear tree do please get in touch and help us save these varieties!

Heritage Pears

Heritage Pears

Apples, Pears, Plums & other Fruity Products

We continue to grow and supply the widest range of apples, pears, plums, and damsons, including a number of old Scottish varieties brought back to the country for the first time in many decades!


Below is a list of the apple varieties we will have available as one-year maidens for bare-root planting in winter 2015/16. You’ll find some well-known, and some more unusual varieties. Many are available on either M26 or MM106 semi-dwarfing rootstocks, mostly eaters on very dwarfing M27 and mostly cookers on the large growing M25 trees. Please ask to confirm.

As with all our plants, some are available only in very small numbers, so get in touch early to confirm availability and place your order! This is not an exhaustive list, we have many in pots also and some varieties too few to list here.

Apple Trees

Eaters/Dessert Apples are in BOLD
* refers to traditional Scottish varieties

Annie Elizabeth A hardy and tough sweet big cooker ready in mid-October.
Arbroath Oslin * I first came across this small yellow apple piled up in a wheelbarrow in September in a Perthshire orchard….and what a heavenly aroma! A lovely tree, it sometimes has aerial roots…eh?
Arthur Turner A pretty flower and a good vigorous early cooker, especially for exposed situations where others would fail.
Ashmead’s Kernel Reliable russet eater in the warm borders, but a few seen doing well locally also.
Bloody Ploughman * The seedling that grew out of the bones of the ploughman shot scrumping apples at Megginch Castle, Perthshire. Can your collection be complete without one?
Beauty of Moray * Cooks to a strongly flavoured cream puree….one for the freezer and winter puddings. Nice light green early apple.
Belle De Boskoop Very impressed with this very productive dual-purpose russet in my garden!( shush!, don’t tell! )
Bramley’s Seedling Aye, the most popular cooker perhaps, and often scab free, but very vigorous for small gardens. So M27, M26 and some big M25 trees on offer.
Bountiful A big yellow cooker sweetening with age. Late September.
Cambusnethan Pippin * This is a nice looking red striped dual apple, I find it crisp, quite sweet, and scab free. Fae Clyde Valley.
Catshead A parent of Lord Derby and great big reliable cooker it is too! We have some on M26 semi-dwarfing stocks this year for the smaller garden.
Chivers Delight An excellent east coast eating apple. Recommended by Willie Duncan in his Fife Orchard. Tastes & looks like a cox x worcester, bright flush, late October. Stores
Clydeside * A local cooker, ready late September. Who knows how long this has been grown in the Clyde Valley before your modern Bramleys etc?
Coul Blush * A soft fleshed golden apple, cooks to a lemon froth according to Joan Morgan. A Ross-shire apple….that’s very far north! An eater too?
Crimson Newton Wonder There are many examples of big old Newton’s in Scotland: it is a lovely cooker & an eater in a good summer. A few on MM106 and M25.
Cutler Grieve * Complete the duo….this is the rare sister to Scotland’s prime Edinburgh variety, James Grieve. Joan Morgan says cherry red, a hint of a strawberry flavour….mmm?
Devonshire Quarrenden Small red flat apple, crisp and juicy in a Clyde orchard last year
Discovery When the Discovery’s ripen in early autumn you can spot then in gardens from a distance. They are a lovely soft red eater and very reliable here. Scab free.
Early Julyan (Tam Montgomery) * A Clydeside apple (reputedly). Very early yellow fruit, the first dual purpose fruit at my local Elcho Castle Orchard. I have seen these go to waste on the floor as no-one was aware they were ripe!
East Lothian Pippin * Makes a great apple sauce. Early ripening
Edward Vll A very hardy late flowering cooker for frosty areas.
Ellison’s Orange An eater that turns up on apple days in numbers: it has been supplying Scotland with good eating apples for a while. Tastes increasingly of aniseed…so best picked early.
Emneth Early A good very tough early scab free fruit for the West coast.
Epicure Very early Cox type sweet aromatic fruit – many say the best!
Exeter Cross An early eater from a Worcester Beauty of Bath cross available on M26.
Galloway Pippin * Described as a late cooker, can be sweet enough to eat.
George Cave Very valuable early eater, I found some ripe in August last year. And last winter’s new tree already has fruits forming. John Butterworth’s favourite apple.
Golden Monday * This is a local Clyde Valley variety possibly of use to cider makers?
Grenadier A good Victorian cooker appearing frequently in our local orchards and prized in Europe also. A reliable and prolific ‘second early’ cooker for the west coast and wet areas. Well only second if you have an even earlier one! A few old trees survive in the Carse orchards.
Hawthornden * An old variety in Scotland, it’s a very productive early and a nice eater, cooker, or sliced with cheese. Yum.
Hood’s Supreme * A large handsome sweet early eater. An Angus apple. My 2nd favourite.
Howgate Wonder A big cooker to impress your neighbours with! Well – known in Scotland.
James Grieve *   My best apple by far. Very productive, one of the first to flower (April 20th), it is an early soft sweet eating apple. It is difficult to keep, though I have kept a tray full until xmas last year. It will never be a supermarket apple, but has been hybridised with many other varieties.
Julyred Large attractive very early eater before your Discoveries. Grown Norway.
Juneating A July eater. Yes the first of the season!
Jupiter A heavy cropping triploid Cox type, late Oct.
Katy How can a Worcester/ James Grieve cross not do well in Scotland! It forms a bright red small to medium crisp eating apples. The deep colour of one, with the softness of the other. Reliable productive and scab free red fruit!
Keswick Codlin A lovely codlin, makes good cider too. Distinctive leaves. Very reliable and hardy sept. cooker in Scotland. Trees mostly available on M26.
King Of The Pippins Beautiful late juicy crisp golden eater from a vigorous cordon in my garden.
Lady of the Lake* Soft juicy eater ready October. Never before available in Scotland! From the Carse of Gowrie.
Lady of the Wemyss * A very pretty late apple in the orchard at Elcho Castle. A good rich taste when cooked according to Joan Morgan.
Lass O’ Gowrie * Our local girl. Early, soft as in many of our local fruit. John Butterworth rated highly.
Laxton’s Fortune Well-known, tough and tasty eater, productive in my garden. Late Sept.
Laxton’s Superb Mr Laxton and sons knew how to select a good eater. Oct.
Lemon Queen* A sweet unusually coloured apple, ready September. An eater.
Lord Derby A hardy late cooker, many good old trees in Scotland
Lord Rosebery * A local apple named after a prime minister by David Storrie at his nursery around the turn of the last century at Glencarse, Perthshire. Attractive, sweet eating apple…your first juice.
Maggie Sinclair Dual purpose large apple, cooks to golden froth, sweet.
Megginch Favourite Actually Golden Reinette, a lovely mid season golden apple.
Monarch A distinctive Essex cooker, my young tree producing a bucket load of large cookers in its second year. Good trees seen in Stirlingshire too. November.
Norfolk Royal Russet Red. I mean very red. One to show off to your visitors. Easily spotted at Blair Castle Orchard. in late summer. Sweet crisp rich sweet taste.
 Port Allen Russet * A medium to large yellow and russetted fruit. I enjoyed scrumping these while surveying Port Allen Orchard a few years ago, so really a dual purpose.
Quinte A very nice early eater from Canada, much grown in Norway.
Red Charles Ross A distinctive heavy apple appearing at many apple days. Large, crisp, juicy, dual purpose and one of John Butterworth’s top ten. Have acquired a red form.
Red Astrachan If its good for US apple pies and a favourite for the Russian & Baltic states then it’s a good dual for me too!
Red Devil For your pink juice try this eater. Discovery cross   so good.
Red Falstaff James Grieve influence makes this a good apple.
Red James Grieve Redder form of James Grieve.
Reinette Gris I acquired a tree from Belgium and its proving to be a fab russet in my garden!
Reverend W Wilkes Almost white big early cooker seen in a few old gardens in Scotland.
Ribston Pippin A highly esteemed Victorian apple, Oct, sweet very tasty. Scab free for the west coast. Good on MM106 and M25 for big productive trees.
Scotch Bridget * This cooker (eater?) has a very distinctive oblong lopsided shape and a brown-red flush. Has been grown a long time here and in Northern England. Very productive tree in my orchard and tasty. Trees on big M25 this year.
Scots Dumpling * Our little spindlebush produces lots of early fruit.
Seaton House * A large, sharp cooking apple from Angus.
Siddington Russet* According to Morgan, a tastier form of Galloway Pippin.
Stirling Castle* Cooker. It was once used to pollinate Cox’s and to nurse Bramley orchards. Raised at Causewayhead, Stirling… I have failed to find any trees near there now unfortunately. A lovely uniformly round and green to yellow cooker with a brownish flush. Was grown commercially for a while.
Stobo Castle * Like a flat Stirling Castle, deep golden with a scarlet flush (Taylor), cooks to a sharp creamy froth. August.
Summered A Canadian McIntosh type sweet crisp – by popular demand!
Sunset Our best Cox type for Scotland. Can produce small apples, and ‘juicy, intense and rich’. Yum. My maiden tree has fruit forming in its first year! Pretty in flower.
Thomas Jeffrey* A pretty red eater, sharp and firm! From Edinburgh.
Thorle Pippin* Round flat and colourfully striped juicy but sharp early eater. Early flowerer.
Tower of Glamis * Our local green conical cooker, and one which the head gardener at Glamis Castle thoroughly recommends! Our wee tree had many big fruits last year.
Tydeman’s Early Worcester Does well in Scotland in many gardens. It’s a Worcester / McIntosh hybrid, so a tough skin but delicious crisp juicy flesh…..with a hint of strawberry according to Joan Morgan.
White Melrose * Smooth shiny green to yellow dual purpose apple – I happily munched one at Elcho Castle last year and was surprised to see the label. Prolific and reliable.
White Paradise * Well we aren’t 100%sure where this originated, but a nice eater.
Winter Gem A cox-type late eater and keeper for the warmer gardens I advise.
Winter Pearmain Nice big old cooking apple.
Worcester Pearmain I have a very productive tree in my garden, it is crisp and sweet. Highly recommended for Scottish conditions. It is a tip bearer, but don’t let that worry you! Late flowering so not touched by this year’s late frosts.
Yorkshire Aromatic * A rich juicy cooker that originates from Tynninghame in East Lothian.

Scandinavian Varieties

We have been propagating a number of hardy reliable Scandinavian grown varieties selected for Scottish conditions which we feel will do very well here. Includes the following: Akero, Noris, Julyred, Red Astrachan,PJ Bergius, and Quinte.

Cider Varieties

We have also benched grafted in February a number of selected Cider Varieties including Morgan Sweet, Kingston Black, Le Bret, Dunkerton’s Late, Porter’s Perfection, and Stokes Red. Let us know if you want any of these potted trees.


We will have Greengages, Victoria, Merryweather, Belle De Louvain and Opal on St Julien Stocks plus victoria on Pixy stocks. Please ask.

Pears and Quinces

We will have our usual selection of bare root hardy pears for Scotland. Including Louise Bon De Jersey, Beth, Conference, Precocce de Trevoux, Jargonelle and Scottish varieties Maggie, Hessle, Grey Benvie, Longueville, Craig’s Favourite and Fair Maid Of Perth. Plus a selection of other fruits including Quinces, Cherries, Nuts, Saskatoons and Medlars.


Apple trees: £14.50 each (if ordering less than 50)
Pears, Plums, Cherries etc: £18 each

Delivery costs
Collection: Free
Delivery by courier: £20for up to 10 trees

How to order

Use our online Tree Order Form.
Or get in touch with us.

We’re happy to offer advice on types of trees, discuss suitability for specific sites or hear about your plans for starting a new orchard! Pop us an email: