Monday, 1 September 2014

Brogdale in August

I visited the national fruit collection at Brogdale earlier last month. There are a few photos here, but I have many more to share! It was lovely to see the trees bearing fruit, after my trip in April to see the blossom. The scent was even stronger this time. Orchards full of 2200 varieties of apples = the most wonderful apple scent you could imagine.

If you go on a guided tour, you can see more trees close up and also taste some of the fruit. Self-guided tours are also available, but you have to stick to the path and cannot taste the fruit (not least because you won't know which have recently been sprayed and can't be eaten for a few days). Fortunately, there was no one else wanting a guided tour on the day I visited, so the lovely Tony was able to share his knowledge with me and indulge me as I stopped to take photos every minute! Last time I forgot to take one camera; this time I took two.

I shared a photo of the medlar tree blossom the last time I visited. This time it was in fruit and it looked lovely out in the car park.

Medlars aren't exactly a popular fruit, but Nigel Slater has a medlar tree and sometimes shares recipes, including this one for medlar jelly. He serves it with pheasant, which I wouldn't try as I'm a vegetarian, but it makes me think of an episode of Father Ted.

Mrs Doyle: You do like pheasant, don't you, Father?
Father Ted: Pheasant? I love pheasant.
Mrs Doyle: Well there's a little clue. The thing you'll be eating likes pheasant as well.

Apple blossom is probably my favourite blossom because it smells so sweet. I took photos of several varieties of apple blossom in the spring, including Montreal Beauty. I didn't find it this time, but I did take photos of beautiful Irish Peach apples. I was surprised to find apple trees bearing (edible) fruit so early.

This P.J.Bergius apple is Snow White-worthy red!

These stunning apples are Thortlepippin, which sounds like the name of a 70s children's TV show.

It doesn't look very pink here, but Lady Williams is the pink-skinned apple below which, when bred with Golden Delicious, becomes Pink Lady. After reading this article, I'm not so keen on the idea of buying Pink Lady apples in future, as much as I prefer sweet apples. Adam, who writes the wonderful blog Adam's Apples, has also written about Pink Lady, or rather Cripps Pink (the variety is called Cripps Pink after the breeder John Cripps, but the trademark name is Pink Lady).

And crab apples, beloved of florists for autumn arrangements, were on display too. The first one is called Maruba.

There were also apples trained along wire fences.

You know when they say the hottest place in the UK is Gravesend, or wherever? Well, when the hottest place is Brogdale, as it was on 10 August 2014 (just six days after my visit), this is the weather station that confirms that. On that August day, Brogdale was 101 degrees Fahrenheit, beating Heathrow Airport's double-figures record.

Back to the fruit, and the best thing about this visit was the plums. I got to taste varieties I would never normally get the chance to try, and they were all nicer than the ones I've bought from a supermarket. This was the wonderful sight of two plum trees grown in different ways, hence little and large.

This plum doesn't have a proper name; just the label V72331. I tried it and it was delicious.

This one is called Czar, which would go quite nicely with the Russian Greengage in the taster post!

In April I took a photo of Mirabelle d'Octobre. The mirabelle is a type of plum. This time I tasted some mirabelles, including this one: Mirabelle de Metz. They are delicious and quite sweet.

A greengage that I also tasted was Newark. Sweet sunshine on a tree!

In the spring, I saw an ornamental pear tree that had leaves like an olive tree. Here it is in August, bearing fruit.

And the final tree: Malus White Star. Tony told me a story about this crab apple, which I'm afraid to say I've completely forgotten. If you go on a tour with him, maybe he'll tell you and you can report back!

I'll leave you with my fruit haul: I rarely eat my five a day, but it was much easier after this visit.


  1. Thanks for your kind words about my apple blog! I have read so much about Brogdale and hope to visit someday.

    1. You're welcome, Adam. I hope you get to visit one day - I think you'd really appreciate it!