Autumn in the orchard

As the wind whips through the trees, it's time to make sure all your apples are safely harvested

Apple 'Bedfordshire Foundling' brought in at 'Taste of Autumn' event for identificationAs I write this an autumn gale is roaring through the trees outside. This is a good reminder that most of the apples and pears should have been picked by now.

We’ve picked all of the pears in the Orchard at RHS Garden Wisley, and most of the apples. If you still have apples and pears to pick it’s worth doing this now.

There are a few which we do not harvest until November such as the apples ‘Sturmer Pippin’, ‘Granny Smith’, ‘Allen’s Everlasting’, ‘French Crab’ and ‘Ballarat Seedling’.

Most apples and pears picked now will store well. Select only undamaged fruits and store them in trays in single layers in a cool frost-free and, importantly, mouse-free place. You can just imagine what could happen…

The Wisley Taste of Autumn Festival finished on Sunday. It was extremely well attended with a real buzzy atmosphere, and I was busy identifying apples and pears, plus a couple of grape samples. I’ve been out and about identifying apples and pears at the four RHS gardens this autumn as well as at the London Harvest show.

It’s always a challenge to identify them all, but great fun too! As usual the most frequently seen was ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ both for young and old trees. There were many apples from young trees on allotments, some of which had been mislabelled when bought.

Apple 'Lemon Pippin', showing its distinctive shapeOld trees and old cultivars are always fascinating. This year I have seen the following - ‘Lemon Pippin’ (left) from an old tree in Godalming, Surrey. This resembles a lemon and is a very old cultivar of Norman origin.

‘Bedfordshire Foundling’ was brought along from an old orchard which is now part of a common near Milton Keynes. This is an old cooking apple from 1800 or earlier which is now seldom grown. Pear trees are very long lived (sometimes 200 or 300 years or more). 'Autumn Bergamotte' is one of the oldest pear cultivars, and a sample was brought in from east Surrey. I was able to identify it but sadly it was on its last legs and too rotten to photograph.

Enjoy your fruity harvests – isn’t that one of the best things of this time of year?


Useful links

How to grow apples - RHS Advice
How to grow pears - RHS Advice

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