Quinces in Scotland

We occasionally have available for sell the following Quinces: Vranja, Meech’s Prolific, Serbian Gold Smyrna and Portugal and are often asked how well they do in Scotland.Here are some notes gleaned from various articles and personal experience.

The quince, Cydonia oblonga,  famous for Cotignac and Marmalade, is a tree that can grow to 4 or 5m. It is probably native to Central Asia and the near East ( WJ Bean, 1970), but has been cultivated for many centuries. They were much esteemed in Italy, and Sanders suggests the Romans introduced them to Britain, and they reputedly grow wild in Sussex. Today they are still highly esteemed from southern Europe to as far as South America.In France they are called ‘Coins’.


Quinces on a tree in North Fife Autumn 2013

It forms a rather scruffy bush or small tree, with a multitude of intertwining branches if not pruned. Autumn leaf colour can be very nice. They need a bit of cold in winter to promote flowering.

Hogg (1886) surprisingly only mentions apple shaped, pear shaped or Portugal types and no record of Victorian varieties. Bean names the Portugal variety as ‘Lusitanica’, Maliformis’ as the apple shaped and only two cultivars, Vranja and Bereczki.

Angers quince A , B and C are two selections used for producing dwarf pear trees.

Flowerdew lists the following:

The Portuguese: Pear shaped, vigorous, but slow to crop.

Vranja: ( Bereczki) From Serbia, large fruited, pear shaped erect growing tree.

Meech’s Prolific: Pear shaped, early to bear and late keeper. This comes from USA.

Champion: Round, mild flavoured.

Isaphan and Maliformis, are mentioned, and Orange, Pineapple and Smyrna occur in the US.

Importantly he mentions they are self-fertile though others suggest cross-pollination improves fertility. They flower in June in this country, a big open flower, white or pink. They are generally grown as a low standard / bush tree. I have rarely seen then pruned or trained in Scotland, but there is no reason why they cannot be trained to whatever shape you want. There is a garden in Church Stretton which has a wall topped with a pleached quince ‘’hedge’’. This proves that they can be trained! So ok to train them up a wall or fence.


Frequently quince bushes can  appear from the rootstock of a pear that has died – though i have not seen any fruit on these.


Quinces can be entirely left to their own devices, but ideally trees should regularly have some of the internal branches taken out to reduce the amount of congestion. Sunny, warm, and well-drained sites are preferred, avoid cold frost pockets.They are susceptible to leaf blight, especially any overgrown rootstocks, but larger specimens seem to be more resistant in Scotland.


40 years ago in South America school children were given Quinces for their packed lunch, which they ate raw with salt! However, in our climate they are generally used for jelly, jam or ‘cheese’.They are highly aromatic when ripe, and can be stored to ripen if necessary.


Other varieties available from UK Nurseries include Akvambari, Ekmek, Isofahan, Sobu, Seibosa, and Shams from Turkey and Iran.


Quinces are easy to grow, and looked beautiful when the fruits are ripening to a lovely lemon yellow on the tree. There are good examples around Scotland, notably St Andrews botanic gardens, and a private garden in North East Fife. A warm wall is likely to be beneficial to the ripening of fruit, or at least some shelter. When all the apples and pears have been picked, watch out for birds attacking them. Bordeaux mixture may be required if leaf blight takes hold

( Entomosporium maculatum).

The RHS suggest pruning all leaders on new tree to outward facing buds; this would promote a more open and wider bush. Allow at least 3 m between trees ideally.

The fruit is highly aromatic and can be used in small quantities to flavour apple pies etc.


The following varieties are listed in Wikipedia:


  • The ‘Bereczcki’
  • ‘Champion’
  • ‘Cooke’s Jumbo’ (syn. ‘Jumbo’)
  • ‘Dwarf Orange’
  • ‘Gamboa’
  • ‘Le Bourgeaut’
  • ‘Lescovacz’
  • ‘Ludovic’
  • ‘Maliformis’
  • ‘Meeches Prolific’
  • ‘Morava’
  • ‘Orange’ (syn. ‘Apple quince’)
  • ‘Perfume’
  • ‘Pineapple’
  • ‘Portugal’ (syn. ‘Lusitanica’)
  • ‘Siebosa’
  • ‘Smyrna’
  • ‘Van Deman’
  • ‘Vrajna’ (syn. ‘Bereczcki’)[6]


There are 16 entries in the RHS Hardy Plant Finder under Cydonia. Portugal is the probably the best quality but not so easy to grow here. Vranja and Meech’s Prolific, Smyrna and Serbian Gold are likely to be the more reliable here. They are easy to grow in any sheltered place in Scotland so why not give them a try?


Appletreeman would be very interested to learn of any unusual varieties you have successfully grown or your experiences with quinces in Scotland? email@plantsandapples.co.uk


Hogg’s Fruit Manual, 1886.

Flowerdew, Bob, Complete Fruit Book, 1997.

Bean WJ, revised 1970 ed. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in The British Isle.

Encyclopeadia of Gardening, RHS, 1992, Page 386.

Sanders, T.W., (1946?) Fruit and Its Cultivation, page 123. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quince_cheese

RHS Hardy Plant Finder 2004-2005.


Apple Trees and Flooding

Many of you will be planting new fruit trees this spring and will be wondering what effect all the rain will have on your trees. At present your trees are dormant and most likely you are planting them as ‘bare root’. It is well known that up to 90% of your trees roots may be killed when they are lifted out of the nursery and replanted, so it is very important you keep the roots moist and frost free to preserve what’s alive.

Tree roots need oxygen, and prolonged wet conditons will create anaerobic conditions and many more roots will suffocate. In spring, your trees will have a hard job growing new roots and getting the nutrients necessary to grow, flower and fruit.

Another worry is a fungus disease called Phytophora or collar rot which can attack your trees in the summer after a very wet winter.  So don’t exacerbate this situation avoid those wet hollows in your garden, don’t pile masses of compost around the roots,  and look forward to a nice dry spring and summer!

Also many beautiful productive fruit trees can blow over due to wet soil, so see to your drainage!

Windblown Tree


Medlars are rather plain looking trees – admittedly they are rosaceae, but the flowers are just white amongst many other better rosaceae, so why are they of interest? They have been cultivated for thousands of years, and its very likely the Romans brought them here.
Well its the fruit, which is not quite like anything else! They are actually pomes, and are brown, earthy tasting and either hard or soft and almost rotten! They are about 5cm across and brown.We tried some at The Harmony garden at Melrose once, and they were definitely an acquired taste. They are in fact a useful late fruit as they aren’t ready until mid- winter.
So what are they used for. Traditionally they need to be ‘bletted’ i.e. until the frost has softened them. Some suggest this isn’t actually necessary.However, the best use of them is to make into jam or jelly.
They will grow almost anywhere, I have seen them at Kellie Castle in the lawn, and in a hedgerow at Broughty Ferry. Remembering where they are and getting the fruit is important if they’re in a hedgerow.


Varieties generally available are the Dutch ( largest fruit), Nottingham ( more upright), and the Royal ( better flavour). Also Breda Giant and Russian clones. We sell Nottingham. All are self-fertile.Named varieties can be grown on Pear, Quince or Hawthorn. They come from the Caucasus, so cold winters and hot dry summers are a clue to their requirements. The dry warm soils of Broughty Ferry is probably about right. Bob Flowerdew suggests only remedial pruning as they fruit on the ends of shoots.

The RHS suggest the following: ‘’pick when the stalk parts from the tree in late Autumn, and dip the ends in in strong salt solution to prevent rotting…..store with calyces downward, on slatted trays. Use when the flesh is brown and soft’’.

Ooh I almost forgot to mention, they have lovely autumn colour!

Flowerdew, Bob, Complete Fruit Book, 1997, page 169.
RHS Encyclopaedia of Gardening, Ed. C. Brickell, 1992, page 387.
Tree Fruit Growing, Raymond Bush, 1962, pages 288-289.

Vines in Scotland

Can we grow vines in Scotland?  The small village of Kippen in Stirlingshire ( blink and you’ll miss it ), was the site of a massive vine in the early twentieth century. It was however planted in a heated glasshouse, of the variety Gros Colman.

Almost on the beach in Fife, Christopher Trotter has a small acreage of vines planted , and after 5 yrs he is hoping to get a harvest next summer and produce the first grape wine in Scotland! The varieties he uses are Solaris Rondo and Siegerrebe, both from Northern Europe. It is a gamble to grow vines this far north, but he has chosen hardy varieties recommended by Vineyards in Yorkshire who have learnt a bit by trial and error. And he is in the warmest and sunniest part of Scotland, and who knows what climate change is going to do to us in the next few decades? It may become too dry to grow vines in the south of France one day. I spent last spring pruning organic vines in the south of France. It is amazing how they thrive in very poor stony soil and with no irrigation all summer. The local shepherd was allowed to pass through during the winter, so the ground gets a dose of organic fertiliser. Sulphur sprays were used to keep mildew at bay.


Grape Vine

We have a Black Hamburgh grapevine in our glasshouse, and it never fails to give us a good sweet dessert crop as long as we keep the blackbird out when they are beginning to ripen! Somehow he always knows when they are nearly ready before us.It is important to keep the vines cool in winter, they dont like heat all year.

In a Nutshell

In a Nutshell… Set to and brutt your plats!
Some notes on Hazelnuts in Scotland.

The hazel is an important native tree to Scotland (they floated in to the west coast perhaps), and as we sell cobnuts and hazels at Appletreeman, I thought I would put down some notes on their cultivation. Unfortunately there is no information on how to grow them for profit in Scotland, and as most of the UK production is in Kent, and places like Piedmont in Western Italy and Turkey have a thriving hazelnut industry, I have had to glean some notes from old books and European papers. So let’s start with what we do know about their cultivation from these other areas…

We have a Hazel plantation near us, which is productive most years from trees closely spaced and about 25ft tall. They are very vigorous, having lots of ‘’water shoots’’ extending up through their centres to reach the light. The fruit is almost impossible to harvest… we have to wait for them to drop after the Squirrels have had their fill! If we are lucky, there may be piles of nuts surviving under the winter’s blanket of snow. The trees are 14 years old and almost perfect for coppicing now and making use of the rods for hurdle making etc. However they aren’t so good for nut production and collecting.


Our native hazel is Corylus avellana. The filbert with its ‘’bearded’’ cover is C. maxima. W.J. Bean lists 10 species, Hillier’s Manual, 8 species. The 2004/5 RHS Plantfinder has 53 entries of species and varieties.They are all native to Northern climes. It is suggested by Bob Flowerdew that these two and C. americana and C. colurna have all interbred to some extent and account for our productive nut clones of today. (see refs. below).

The problem with our local C. avellana for production of nuts is partly due to them being on the very good glacial soils of Tayside, making very vigorous trees, and their close planting drawing them up to the light. So, don’t be too worried about planting on a stony or less favourable soil, though probably avoid wet areas and frost hollows. And don’t crowd them in. A nice well-drained slope with some protection from the East is probably ideal. And they quite like an alkaline soil, though this isn’t essential.

Our local hazels flower very early, sometimes February, usually March. The male catkins are forming, and extending from November, the little red females later. They are wind pollinated, so shaking the branches, or even performing pollination with a little brush on a nice early spring morning is ideal. Of course, you would need reachable branches to do this. Hopefully the male and female flowers will be open at the same time. Our native Hazel must undoubtedly be very hardy, though the non-cropping years are probably due to frost damage. I wonder if we should be investigating late flowering varieties here in Scotland? (See lists below from various authors).

Hazels to coppice at Duchess Woods

Hazels to coppice at Duchess Woods

When you receive a new tree, aim to have a short stem and 5 or 6 branches only. Tie these down or put spacers in to make these fairly horizontal – i.e. make a goblet shape. Any shoots coming up through the centre should be ripped off, and suckers removed also. This may be a continuous exercise every year judging by our local trees. When only 30cm long, allow these framework branches to divide.

So you have achieved a nice open centred tree in the first few years… maintain this framework and head back new growth to keep these trees just above head height so you can pick the nuts. The next stage is to allow lots of laterals to form on your main branches. Strong ones are cut back to two buds, weaker ones may be left. In March, after pollination, cut back the tips of the laterals to a pollinated flower. This is where your nuts will be forming. Then in August, all strong lateral growths are ‘’brutted’’, i.e. the ends are snapped to leave them hanging. This slows down the growth of the tree, lets air in, and puts energy into the nuts. The brutted shoots are cut back in the winter again.

Cross-pollination seems to be important for many varieties and clones, so don’t just buy one tree or variety. Each year try to find another to add to your wee collection. Plant them in a group to aid wind pollination, 4 m apart maximum.

So, in essence it is a bit like pruning a cordon apple tree on each branch if you are familiar with that. A vigorous tree, removed of all excessive growth, and prevented from crowding itself, and having some pollination partners, is the aim. Then there’s the birds, the squirrels and bud mites, and nut weevils to contend with…

Sanders, pge. 58 (see refs) has a good description of the pruning method described above.

Some varieties to look out for:

  • Kentish Cob ( Longue D’Espagne )
  • Webb’s Prize Cob
  • Bollwyller
  • Cosford – thin shelled, good pollinator
  • Pearson’s Prolific ( Nottingham ) – smaller tree
  • Filberts: Red Lambert
  • Trazel (cross between C. avellana and C. colurna) Chinoka and Freeoka.

The Victorians took a good interest in Hazelnuts, and Hogg listed no less than 32 varieties.(pages 426-433 in the 1884 edition). Including the following:

  • Atlas ( C. algeriensis, the Spanish Cob ).
  • Aveline De Provence
  • Barr’s Spanish
  • Bizane
  • Bond
  • Burchardt’s
  • Burn’s ( a grappes precoce )
  • Cannon Ball
  • Cluster ( a grappes )
  • Cosford
  • Daviana
  • Duke of Edinburgh
  • Eugenie
  • Frizzled Hazel ( C. laciniatus )
  • Frizzled Filbert
  • Hartington Prolific
  • Lambert Filbert ( syn Kentish Cob and Webb’s Prize ?)
  • Large Black Fruited ( a gros fruits noirs )
  • Lichtenstein’s
  • Liegel’s
  • Loddiges’ Barcelona
  • Merveille De Bollwyller
  • Norwich Prolific
  • Pearson’s Prolific
  • Primley
  • Prolific Filbert
  • Purple Filbert
  • Striped Fruited ( a fruits Stries )
  • St .Grisier
  • The Shah
  • White Filbert

The National Fruit Collection has Filbert Frizzled, and Kentish Cob, Butler, Ennis

The Kentish Cob Association lists the following trees:

  • Kentish Cob is a reliable cropper, relatively hardy, with excellent flavour. It is recommended for domestic use. It is pollinated by Gunslebert, Cosford and Merveille de Bollwiller, and probably also by wild hazels.
  • Merveille de Bollwiller (also called Hall’s Giant) is a hardy, vigorous and productive variety with large nuts. It is pollinated by Kentish Cob, Cosford, Butler and Ennis.
  • Butler is a large mid- to late-season nut. It is hardy, vigorous and a heavy cropper, and a short-husked variety which de-husks freely when ripe. It is popular for modern commercial production, and is pollinated by Ennis and Merveille de Bollwiller.
  • Ennis is a very attractive large round nut with a superb flavour, but a tendency to produce a significant proportion of blank nuts. It is pollinated by Butler and Merveille de Bollwiller.
  • Purple Filbert (also misnamed Red Filbert) is an ornamental variety with red or purple leaves. It produces a small crop of thin-shelled nuts of excellent flavour but which are particularly susceptible to nut weevil. It is not recommended for nut production.

WJ Bean, Hardy Trees and Shrubs of the British Isle.

  • Corylus spp. listed:
  • americana
  • avellana,
  • chinensis
  • colurna
  • jaquemontii
  • cornuta
  • heterophylla
  • maxima
  • sieboldiana
  • tibetica

Some useful references:

RHS Fruit Yearbook, 1950 by J. Turnbull, pgs 106-109.
Bob Flowerdews’s Complete Fruit Book, 1997, pges 198-199
Hogg, R., The Fruit Manual, 1884. pages 426-433.
Sanders, T.W., Fruit Growing, (no date), pages 55-61 and 215.

Finally, do hazelnuts float?

We’d love to hear from anyone who manages their hazels or cobs for their nuts in Scotland.

Tyninghame Gardens and Orchards

I have just visited a very important and very well maintained fruit garden in East Lothian and thought a wee report was needed! It opens under the Scottish Gardens Scheme twice a year.

There is evidence that, by the 12th century, Tyninghame was a Monastery served by Lindisfarne, but also that St Baldred was there in the 8th century. As in many areas of Scotland, fruit and medicinal plants would have been grown by the monks, and the tradition continues here today. The Bishop’s of St Andrews used the site also.

Tyninghame Gardens and Orchard. Photo by Appletreeman. www.plantsandapples.co.uk

In 1628, the !st Earl of Haddington acquired the property, which remained in the family until 1987. He and his wife planted many trees and tamed what was an open wild landscape.

The lovely red sandstone of the house was added by William Burn in 1828.

The walled garden dates from 1750, and had heated walls originally. It is some distance from the big house and there are restored glasshouses with figs, peaches and vines.

Tyninghame Gardens and Orchard. Photo by Appletreeman. www.plantsandapples.co.uk

The 12th Earl and Lady Sarah formed much of what we can see today – post war they started to remodel the walled garden from one employing 8 gardeners by changing it to an ornamental one. He died in 1986.

The last 50 years saw low maintenance as the order of the day, with an arboretum planted, and annuals replaced by roses in the secret garden, and many borders grassed over, but luckily some old apples remain in the walled garden. These old ones are ow standards and several are propped to keep them up; a fine younger orchard in the north west corner has some exciting old Victorian varieties. Here can be found dessert fruit of King of the Pippins, a golden pippin / cox cross, Cellini,
Laxton’s epicure and exquisite, a Cellini / Cox hybrid. Epicure is a wealthy / cox cross – I think someone liked their Cox apples! These are set in long grass with patches of bluebells. Devonshire Quarrenden, an early flat crisp apple, can be found within a boundary of old espaliered trees, nicely set within the gravel.

At the north end of the walled garden is apparently what used to be an apple store.

Tyninghame Gardens and Orchard. Photo by Appletreeman. www.plantsandapples.co.uk

A very productive Louise Bon De Jersey pear lines the west facing wall, with golf ball sized fruits in May, and some Victoria plums form the centre of an ornamental display. Two small medlars on quince rootstocks stand near the gate to the Apple Walk. This is outside the south wall and is of cordons over a substantial post and wire arch. Many varieties here, but indiscernible except for labelled Discovery and Allington Pippin. Many appear to have been grafted in situ, with lots of
woolly aphid and canker. This may be a result of the considerable shading of nearby trees.

The apple walk in the secret garden, originally under-planted with pheasant eye narcissisi, blue grape hyacinths and geraniums, has almost gone, only a few standards remaining. A fine big Malus floribunda overhangs this area. These old trees may have been the apples trees that supplied the scions for the collection of Scottish varieties sent to the National Fruit Collection in 1949 by a Mr Brotherston, the head gardener.

Tyninghame Gardens and Orchard. Photo by Appletreeman. www.plantsandapples.co.uk

The following varieties were saved for posterity by Mr Brotherston in 1949:

  • Leathercoat Russet
  • Yorkshire Aromatic
  • Small’s Admirable
  • Love Beauty
  • Liddell’s Seedling
  • Lass o’ Gowrie
  • Lady of the Wemyss
  • Green Kilpandy Pippin
  • East Lothian Pippin
Tyninghame Gardens and Orchard. Photo by Appletreeman. www.plantsandapples.co.uk

Many thanks to Chas and Albert, current and retired head gardeners who have done a fantastic job of maintaining this lovely garden.

Alexander and Brown, Perth

Alexander and Brown were very famous seedsmen in the High Street, Perth, supplying plants, bulbs and seeds to uk and continental customers. They were in business from 1897 to 1981, when they were taken over by W. Smith & co. of Aberdeen. Alfred Bown was born at Montrose, and was originally apprenticed to Dickson and Turnbull ( of Perth Nurseries) in 1897 before joining Alexander. They produced a catalogue every couple of years, and their vegetable seed list is most interesting, but Appletreeman’s main interest is where they got their ‘English grown’ fruit trees from and who they were supplying locally.

They started putting English grown fruit in their catalogue from around 1901. The varieties they sold were:


  • Arbroath Oslin
  • Beauty of Moray
  • Bismark
  • Blenheim Orange
  • Bramley’s seedling
  • Codlin Keswick
  • Court of Wick
  • Cox’s Orange Pippin
  • Devonshire Quarrenden
  • Duchess of Oldenburgh
  • Dumelow’s Seedling
  • Early Harvest
  • Ecklinville Seedling
  • Emperor Alexander
  • Golden Spire
  • Lady Sudeley
  • Hawthornden ( old ).
  • Kerry Pippin
  • King of the Pippins
  • Lane’s Prince Albert
  • Lord Derby
  • Lord Grosvenor
  • Lord Suffield
  • Mank’s Codlin
  • Northern Dumpling
  • Peasgood’s Nonsuch
  • Ribston Pippin
  • Reinette du Canada
  • Stirling Castle
  • Tower of Glamis
  • Warner’s King
  • Worcester Pearmain

”….other varieties can be had on application……”


  • Bergamont Gansel’s
  • Beurre Bachelier
  • d’amanalis
  • D’Aramberg
  • Diel
  • Rance
  • Bon Chrétien ( Williams )
  • Bishop’s Thumb
  • Clapps Favourite
  • Colmar
  • Crawford Early
  • Glou Morceau
  • Doyenne d’Ete
  • Hessel
  • Jargonnelle
  • Louise Bonne of Jersey
  • Marie Louise
  • Moorfowl Egg
  • Passe Colmar
  • Swan’s Egg
  • Thompson’s
  • Vicar of Winkfield


  • Belle de Septembre
  • Coe’s Golden Drop
  • Czar
  • Damson
  • Early Prolific, River’s
  • Gage, Blue
  • Green
  • Oulin’s Gold
  • Purple
  • Jefferson
  • Kirke’s
  • Magnum Bonum, Red
  • White ( White Mogul )
  • Orleans
  • Early
  • Pond’s Seedling
  • Prince Englebert
  • Reine Claude de Bavay
  • Sharp’s Emperor
  • Victoria
  • Washington

Quite an impressive list! It is very likely that these varieties survive in the older gardens of Perthshire today. Let me know if you think you have one!