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

Anyone for Tea?

We have a small number of hardy Camelia sinensis for sale in 5 litre pots. They are growing away nicely and already yielding afew leaves for our daily brew! Tea is now being produced in Scotland, proving that they are perfectly hardy! They are calcifuge, so generally prefering a slightly acid soil, some shade or northern facing slopes may suffice, and tolerate a fair amount of rainfall, though a variety of loamy soils and areas of Scotland are proving to be acceptable. See the following information sheet for more details:Appletreeman’s Guide to Growing Tea in Scotland

Saskatoons

We have a selection of specially imported Canadian Saskatoons for sale in 3 or 5 litre pots.
These trees produce a fabulously sweet blue berry in July, and are similar to Blueberries. They differ in that they do not need acid soil and prefer good sunlight and any good loamy soil.
The varieties we have for sale are Smoky, Thiessen, Northline and JB 30. These are all commercially selected for their superior sized and quality fruits from tlocal wild trees in central Canada.
They are very hardy, and reach between 2.5 to 3.5 metres. Pruning involves cutting out a few of the tallest trees in a few years time. They are likely to be productive for 40 years or more. Our specialist guide gives more information.

Appletreeman’s Guide to Growing Saskatoons

Farm Shops of Scotland

Intensive Apple Orchard at Craigie Farm

Intensive Apple Orchard at Craigie Farm

I love the fact that you can enjoy a cup of good coffee, buy a delicious local artisan oatcake or black pudding, and pick a few fruits for your pudding in one short trip. These are things you cannot do in style in the crowds and hassle of a supermarket.

My most recent trip was to Craigie Farm Shop near Kirkliston, a pyo farm, much of which was open to the public.On a Sunday afternoon it was very busy, but there are lots of seating in and outside the cafe, and I like the idea of the canine cafe! However poor Jed was banned from the fruit growing areas, the impressive polytunnels with table tops groaning with strawberries and pots of raspberries.

After viewing the grunting pigs, and the friendly Shelties, we followed the nature trail along the lines of open grown heavily laden gooseberries, and surprise surprise came upon a fabulous modern orchard. (There’s always an ulterior motive with Appletreeman! )

I have seen this square block of trees developing over the last year from the dual carriageway into Edinburgh, and was determined to check it out. It is as I thought, a very exciting new development in top fruit growing in Scotland. There are about 15 lines of very closely spaced trees, at one meter, on very dwarfing stocks of M9. It all looks very well managed, and very productive with sunset, worcesters, katy etc. all yielding fruit in this rather mixed year.

Very good to see that lines of Italian Alder have been planted as shelter belts also, a necessity for this easterly plot way down the bank, whereas some cherries further up near the cafe seem to be more exposed. Back at the shop we picked up a few punnets of fabulous rasps and gooseberries and set off home very pleased!

The farm is not organic, but allows the public to see into the tunnels so common in Perthshire, with real commercial horticulture in action, weeds and all! We will certainly be back, hopefully at a less busy time to speak to the ‘patron’ and of course for the harvest of apples!