We were recently asked to donate some cutting material from our extensive collection of apples here at Chartwell so that a new orchard can be created at fellow National Trust property Ickworth in Suffolk. They are hoping to restore a 1910 planting plan for their 5 acre walled garden and as we have such a fantastic collection of heritage apple varieties we were asked to help out.
This request came from Chris Trimmer at the National Trust Plant Conservation Centre (PCC). Dedicated to cataloguing, understanding and propagating the National Trust’s rich, diverse and prodigious plant collections, the PCC can be found at a secret location in Devon. I spent a week working there last year and thoroughly enjoyed a fascinating insight into the way the National Trust is trying to conserve one of its greatest assets: our plants. More information on the initiative can be seen here.
We were asked to select healthy, vigorous hardwood shoots of the previous season’s growth. The material would preferably be around 15cm long (that’s 6 inches in old money) and of roughly pencil thickness. The PCC will then use these stems as scion material to graft onto apple root stocks and create healthy brand new apple trees. Root stocks help to control the growth habit of the new tree or improve its disease resistance for example. The rootstocks which determine the tree height range from M27 which is extremely dwarfing up to M25 which is very vigorous. More details on this can be found by clicking here. All of the material that we have sent to the PCC will be grafted onto MM106 rootstocks and should be delivered to Ickworth this autumn as whips for the gardeners to train how they want.
To protect the apple stem material during shipment we bound each batch together with elastic bands, wrapped the cut ends in moist paper towels, placed them in plastic bags and then carefully packaged them all in padded jiffy bags. Each batch was clearly labelled so that there would be no confusion on arrival.
The apple trees we were asked to collect from included Malus ‘Kerry Pippin’ and M. ‘Lord Derby’ from the main orchard, M. ‘Pitmaston Pineapple’ from the walls of the Kitchen Garden and M. ‘Bismark, M. ‘Cox’s Orange Pippn’, M. ‘Irish Peach’ and M. ‘Worcester Pearmain’ from the Chartwell private orchard. The private orchard is an area behind the walls of the Kitchen Garden beyond our glasshouses and potting sheds. We use the crops here to supply the restaurant here at Chartwell with a wider selection of apples than we can offer from the public orchard alone. The picture below shows a scan of the plans we have for this hidden area:
You can glimpse some of the private orchard by standing on the Top Terrace at Chartwell but there will still be plenty to see in terms of top fruit in the main public orchard and the Kitchen Garden. And later on in the year you will be able to taste the harvest from all of our trees in the restaurant and hopefully also when we sell some of our fruit from our produce table. Delicious!
The apple tree grafting material that we have sent to the PCC will go towards the 103 different apple varieties that Ickworth hope to fill their walled garden with. It is exciting projects such as this one that we’ve been involved with that might produce so called ‘green heroes’ that the upcoming Octavia Hill awards will be looking to reward.
The Octavia Hill Awards, now in their second year, were set up by the National Trust, one of the many organisations that she helped to found, to recognise her contribution to the concept of volunteering but also her love of and passion for protecting and promoting green spaces. These awards are all about giving thoroughly deserved recognition to this army of unsung heroes of the environmental movement; people that just get on with it, with no fuss and no fanfare. We want to celebrate their achievements and encourage others to roll-up their sleeves and get involved in projects and campaigns where they live, and help to inspire the next generation to get excited and get active.
Nominations for the Octavia Hill Awards 2013 need to be submitted by the 28 February and more information can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/octaviaawards