National Trust puts cider apples at its core

George Holmes, Area Ranger in South Somerset, planting a cider tree from the collection (c) Steve Haywood

An internationally important collection of cider apples, with almost 300 different varieties, has been given to the National Trust and will be planted in orchards at Montacute House, Barrington Court, Tyntesfield and Glastonbury in Somerset, Golden Cap in Dorset, Westbury Court Garden in Gloucestershire, Killerton in Devon and Brockhampton in Herefordshire. Continue reading…

The summer rain adds some sparkle to Killerton cider

Pictures by Steven Haywood of Killerton's apples for Apple Week celebrations on 17th & 18th October at Killerton - Pictured is Emma Wakeham and Killerton's latest edition to the team 'Puppy springer spaniel TOBY! having fun in the orchard

Pictures by Steven Haywood of Killerton’s apples for Apple Week celebrations on 17th & 18th October at Killerton – Pictured is Emma Wakeham and Killerton’s latest edition to the team ‘Puppy springer spaniel Toby having fun in the orchard

August was a rainy month for tourists and locals but there was one upside to the downpours however; the wet weather has made for a bumper crop of apples in the National Trust orchards at Killerton and the trees are heavy with fruit ready to be made into cider.

2014 was a memorable summer, but an apple crop to forget, producing only 3,000 litres of cider. But this year the trees are so full that the National Trust hopes to double its production.

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Yarn-bombing an apple tree back to life

A 12 foot community yarn-bomb has exploded in the orchard at Killerton National Trust estate near Exeter. Pictured are Joan Tremblett and Renee Harvey both from Exeter. Picture by Steven Haywood

A 12 foot community yarn-bomb has exploded in the orchard at Killerton, near Exeter. The culprits are an army of 50 knitters and pom-pom bombers from across Devon and as far flung as Oregon in the United States.

Their combined efforts have burst Killerton’s retired apple tree back to life by entirely covering it in 400 individually knitted leaves, 50 apple-pompoms and hand-knitted woolly wildlife including game birds, squirrels, hedgehogs, frogs and a swarm of Killerton bees.

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Listening in the orchards

If you didn’t get the chance to experience it last year, the wonderful‘talking trees trail’ is up and running again from 12 March onwards in the orchards at Cotehele, near Saltash. The trail brings traditional orchards to life in an entirely new way that is fun for all ages, and full of fascinating facts, but doesn’t impinge upon the beauty of the landscape.

Talking Trees

Pick up a ‘talking pen’ from reception, and then you can just wander at will through the old and new orchards, stopping at random trees to activate their ‘voices’ and hear their stories. Amongst the audio clips – recorded with the help of local people – you can hear the Cornish cider apple ‘Colloggett Pippin’ talk in dialect about its breeding; bees talking about their short busy lives in orchards and how they make honey; a wassailing song and a recipe for apple crumble.

Cotehele’s old orchard was planted before 1731 and is an atmospheric place, full of character and mystery. The ‘Mother Orchard’, which contains 300 trees and 120 different apples, was planted by the local community in 2007 to establish a gene pool of historic varieties.

Other apples featured in the trail include the Beauty of Bath, an early dessert apple raised in Somerset in 1864; Cotehele Beauty, a dessert apple grown from a seedling found at Cotehele; Mère de Menage, a cooking apple known locally as ‘Blackrock’ (once widespread throughout the Tamar Valley but down to one tree in 1980); and Bramley Seedling, perhaps the most famous cooking apple, which celebrated its 200th anniversary last year.

For more information on the joint National Trust / Natural England project to protect England’s traditional orchards, go to: nationaltrust.org.uk/orchards