Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Having checked a number of my apples against the relative pollination dates given in The Book of Apples, and the absolute dates on the Brogdale website, I have to say that there are a lot of discrepancies in the sequence of flowering periods between varieties (all growing as established cordons of fully-identified variety). It's not of any practical importance, as there are so many different varieties growing in close proximity here to ensure good pollination, but it does make me realise that the dates given by the authoritative sources may be more variable than might be assumed. Part of the aim of my blog is to record data for each year and compare the variability over time.

I was surprised to see how much later the Brogdale/Kent dates are compared to apples growing here in Oxford. I thought this was an exceptionally late season; even so, the majority of apples are in full bloom in the third week in April, rather than the mid-May dates given by the guides.

Full blossom!

Blossom - Red James Grieves

Red James Grieves stepover, flowering nicely in front of my potato bed.

Blossom - Pixie

Reliable and beautiful as ever, Pixie.

Blossom - Unknown russet

I can't remember what variety this is. It's in the row of cordons assigned to russets, and my dim memory is that I was considering either King Russet or Golden russet, but the label and other records have not survived. Identification has been made more difficult by this varieties point blank refusal to produce any fruiting spurs. Since I bend the extreme edge of one branch down at right angles to fill in a gap, flower buds have miraculously appeared after about 6 feet of bare wood. Hopefully I will have more information to had to help with identification now. Even so, it will be difficult as my original supplied (before I started grafting myself), Deacon's Nurseries,  have proved to be very unreliable at sending correctly labelled varieties.

Looking at the National Fruit Collection identification pages, King Russet , the fruit does look very similar to that shown. However, their pages says that King Russet blooms fairly late (mid May), whilst this variety is clearly in full bloom a good three weeks before the dates given. However, their site also gives very similar dates for Pixie, but says Sunset should be earlier; all three in full bloom simultaneously, so I'm not sure flowering season is terribly useful for helping to identify varieties.

Blossom - Glou Morceau

Blossom - Dr Jules sport

This is the section of cordon that appears to be a sport of the parent Dr Jules. Interestingly the blossom on this section appeared later than the true Dr Jules, which has already set.

New pest - Jays!

A pair of jays have moved in nearby, and their preferred nesting material appears to be fruit tree ties, which they are quite adept at removing. I suspect the string probably isn't doing a lot if it comes away this easily, though they have made sterling attempts to removed newly knotted ones as well. 

Blossom - Fondante d'Automne

Another year of good blossom on Fondante d'Automne. I'm really impressed with everything about this variety, it's compact growth, ease of spurring, reliable crops and excellent flavour and quality of the fruit. Not so sure about the success of trying to grow it as a spiral, but not fault of the variety itself.

Blossom - Pitmaston Duchess

This is the first year I've had any decent amount of blossom on either of my Pitmaston Duchess trials, let alone any fruit. This one is growing as half of an arch, and as yet is quite short but I hope a couple of fruits might set for evaluation. It's a triploid variety, needing two pollinators, but this should not be a problem given the number of other pear varieties in the front, plus the blossom season has been so compressed by the late arrival of Spring that there appears to be more overlap between varieties than in other years.

Pear midge - Morettini

The blossom dropped very suddenly on the Morettini standard, so I decided to try an experimental treatment for pear midgel. This tree was very badly affected last year and is fairly isolated from others, so it should be easier to assess if spraying for adult midges has any effect. Fortunately the wind was low yesterday and as soon as the derris spray hit the foliage a cloud of midges flew up. Unfortunately the same thing happened when I tried spraying again today, suggesting the insecticide isn't really having a deterrent effect. I went back later to see if I could retrieve any dead midges for identification, but the one I found managed to fly out of my grasp. So I'm not holding out much hope for the effectiveness of spraying. I probably should have started a day earlier too, as the midges were clearing active before full petal drop, given the large number that had already arrived.

Blossom - Shinsui

I decided to move this to the front garden as they flowers and foliage are so attractive it will make a lovely specimen tree and centrepiece of the new garden.

Blossom - red comice

The red buds open creamy white, against bronze foliage. This young espalier is starting to spur up nicely this year, having been rather delicate in habit previously.

Blossom - Beurré Hardy

Beurré Hardy, young step-over with arch-in-progess of Pitmaston Duchess/Concorede beyond.

Blossom - Bishop's Thumb arch

Arch with Bishop's thumb (left) and Santa Claus (right), both flowering simultaneously. The petals have now fallen on both.

Blossom - Egremont Russet

Also having a good year, Egremont russet. This cordon has taken many years to spur up and produce consistent blossom, which hasn't always translated in to a good crop. Maybe this year it will settle down into reliable production.

Blossom - Sunset

The Sunset cordon is beautiful this year, absolutely covered in blossom this year, hopefully providing lots of pollen for Irish Peach and Vistabella which are also in full blossom concurrently.

Blossom - Vista Bella

Vista Bella flowering well in a non 'biennial' year.

Blossom Winter Nelis

Blossom - Devoe

Devoe with Dr Jules, Stanta Claus and Winter Nellis behind.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Pear blossom - Bishop's Thumb

Extension growth that will be tied in to make one half of an arch later on.

Blossom - red Comice

Blossom - Sucrée de Montluçon

Only a couple of flowering spurs this year, not surprising after the very large crop of last year. Pears aren't quite as biennial as apples, but a particularly heavy crop will usually be followed by a lighter one in the following season.

Blossom - Beurré precoce de Morettini

Buds were an apple-blossom pink, but open to ice white. Flowers opened  10 days later than last year, which was also a cold, late spring.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Cherry - Merton Glory?

Cherry blossom!

First Blossom - Coe's Golden Drop

After such a long, cold spring it was really nice to see the first blossom open. Usually plum blossom is usually well in advance of other fruit but this year it opened only a day before the first cherry and plum blossom. I think we may well have plum, cherry, pear and apple blossom out simultaneously due to the prolonged cold spell, the first year this has happened.