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Reviving the Old Apple and Pear Varieties in the Southern Marches.



Orchards to Visit

Orchards Within the Marches

Berrington Hall, near Leominster in Herefordshire. This classical 18th Century mansion was designed by Henry Holland and is gracefully set in a park landscaped by "Capability" Brown. There is an enclosed orchard of traditional apple and pear varieties. A brief guide is available at the National Trust shop (but you may have to ask for a copy).

Marcle Ridge. Orchard visits are included during the twice yearly Big AppleBig Apple (www.bigapple.org.uk) weekends.

The privately owned Kemerton Estate is owned by the Darby Family and currently managed by Adrian Darby, formerly chairman of the RSPB and later chairman of Plantlife. It has grown from 300 acres in 1949 to 1150 acres in 2003. The estate is in South Worcestershire, near Tewkesbury, rising from the Carrant Brook and the River Avon to the South Western Slopes of Bredon Hill. The estate contains several orchards which have undergone restoration in recent years. About 250 varieties of apples and pears are grown on some 500 trees. For group visits to The Orchards or other parts of the estate contact the Conservation Officer on 01684 773073.

National Apple Day on 21st October 1994 saw the start of the planting of the Ebley Linear Community Orchard near Stroud, Gloucestershire. This is an orchard alongside an ex-railway line, now a cycletrack. Seventy trees along a half mile of the track have been planted. Each traditional and some rare varieties are interpreted by individual information boards giving such details as date of origin and uses of the apple per variety. Gloucester Underleaf, Ashmead's Kernel and Gillyflower of Gloucester are just some of the varieties planted. The Community Orchard is now well established and is well worth a visit. It can be found on the left hand side of the Ebley bypass A419 from Stonehouse to Stroud. A car park is provided at the Kings Stanley turning.

The Vale of Evesham Blossom Trail may be enjoyed between the end of March and mid May. Details can be found on a leaflet available from information centres in Worcestershire or from here.

At Comberton Abbey, Whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 4AJ there is a fruit maze. Only a limited number of non traditional varieties are used but the maze provides a large scale example of the pruner's skills in creating espalier trees. The maze is only open to groups of 20 or more, booked in advance.

Other Orchards

The National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens lists all national plant collections. It is possible to search for all National Collections of Fruit.

It is well outside the Marches but Cannon Hall Walled Garden has a collection of some 38 pear cultivars. The garden is at Cawthorne, 5 miles West of Barnsley. Tel 01226 790720.

More pears are at Newby Hall, Ripon, North Yorkshire (Tel 01323 322583, FAX 01423 324452) and Ripley Castle Gardens, Ripley, near Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 3AY (Tel 01423 770152, FAX 01423 771745). Entrance is free to both for RHS members. Opening details are in the RHS Members Handbook (distributed with The Garden in January 2003).


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