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EVENTS 2023 and 2024
We are running a grafting course on the third Saturday in Feb next year, all day, 9.30 for 10.00; 47. If interested please get in touch; email address is diversity(at)suttonelms.org.uk. We have just 3 places left.
You'll find some pictures below from this year's course ....
Venue is Cosby Methodist Church, Leicestershire LE9 1RN.

Sat 22 Jan Scion Collection and Orchard Pruning at Cotesbach Hall
Sun 12 Feb Grafting session: Assisting Judith Egan for Lubenham Grafters & Growers
Wed 15 Feb More Orchard Pruning at Cotesbach Hall
Sat 18 Feb Cosby Apple Grafting Course (all-day); Cosby Methodist Church Hall

Tues Feb 7 20m talk on apples local to Stoney Stanton, Blaby Rotary, at Stanton Lakes
Thur 20 Apr Talk on Apple breeding, Queens Rd. Allotment Society; St. Nicholas Church Hall
Mon 10 Jul 20-min talk on Leicestershire Heritage Apples; Leicester Rotary, Grand Hotel
Sun 2 Jul, Leicester University Botanical garden - Plant & Family Day, 10am-5pm
Thur 17 Aug Recording talk 'Apples in the time of William Shakespeare'; Cassidy Cash podcast
27 Sep: 'Apples in the time of William Shakespeare' podcast released on 'That Shakespeare Life'
Sat 7 Oct, Cosby Apple Day, all day, including apple tastings. Times 11.30-3.30
Sun 8 Oct, Apple Day, apple tasting at Donisthorpe, 11.00am - 3pm
Fri 10 Nov, Apple Breeding talk, Country Link, Sharnford, followed by tasting. 7.30pm.

Jan-Feb: There will be a pruning day or days at Cotesbach sometime in the New Year.
Sat 17 Feb: all-day Cosby grafting course, 9.30 for 10.00; Cosby Methodist Church; 3 places left.
Sun 25 Feb: Pop-up grafting session with Judith Egan, Lubenham Grafters & Growers.
Sun 25 Feb: A short grafting course in North Leicestershire, led by Mel Wilson.
Tues 4 Sep, 7.30, Apples: Past Present and Future, Burbage Gardening Gp, at Connie Club
Sun 13 Oct, Apple Day, apple tasting at Donisthorpe, 11.00am - 3pm
Mon 20 Oct, Talk, for S.Wigston Flower & Gdn Club, 2.45, Sal.Army Hall, Ladysmith Rd

Julie Drake and I have just filmed two more apple tastings at the Marina in North Kilworth, which makes four so far this year. They are:
Apple Tasting 1, 13 Sep 2023: Early Midseason apples
Apple Tasting 2, 11 Oct 2023: Midseason apples
Apple Tasting 3, 6 Nov 2023: Late Midseason apples
Apple Tasting 4, 20 Nov 2023: Late apples
Sorry there wasn't a late Oct video - we both had Covid.

25 Nov 23

Sharnford Village Hall, 10 Nov: Alison and I gave a presentation where we talked about apple breeding for about half an hour, followed by a tasting of twelve unusual apple varieties. The apples were chosen to illustrate the extremely wide range of flavours available: peachy apples, bitter, floral, anise, lemony - and several were redfleshed apples. There were six named apples followed by six of our own seedlings. We asked each person to rate each apple out of 5 based on overall flavour/appearance and pleasantness. We then took the scores, added them up and put the results in a table ... the results were as follows:

65 Seedling 0217
61 Durrant (wild seedling from Norfolk)
60 Grenadine
53 Devitt Pippin (wild seedling from Leicestershire)
50 Seedling 2917
49 Leicester Burton Pippin
49 Pendragon
48 Darcy Spice
45 Seedling 5216
44 Seedling 7416
44 Seedling 7215
42 Seedling 4113

Country Link apple tasting 2023.. Country Link apple tasting 2023..
Country Link apple tasting 2023.. Country Link apple tasting 2023..
The evening was very well-received.

11 Nov 23

Julie Drake and I have just filmed another apple tasting at the Marina in North Kilworth. We also filmed one about three weeks ago but we both caught Covid so it's only just been put online. You can find it here; the next one (Late midseason apples) will be put up soon:
Apple Tasting 2, 11 Oct 2023: Midseason apples

9 Nov 23

Nigel attended the apple event at Donisthorpe, 11.00am - 3pm; Alison was indisposed. This was run by their community volunteers group; in addition to our apple tasting there were stalls run other local groups, but with Alison being away I was unable to circulate so I have very little idea what was going on. However I saw some apple pressing taking place in the distance, and there was a first-rate storyteller for the children, a cider competition, and some enjoyable folk singin9 Nov The weather was mild and sunny and 55 people participated in our apple tasting, sampling 8 unusual varieties (the same as the ones used yesterday at Cosby) and choosing their favourite. We combined the scores from both weekend events and the results are shown below. Click the thumbnail pictures for a better view.

10 Seedling 3317
10 Seedling 8016
8 Weirouge
7 Seedling 0515
6 Darcy Spice
6 Ribston Pippin
4 Seedling 3113
4 Leicester-Burton Pippin

23 Seedling 8016 (hints of fennel, amiseed, liquorish)
13 Darcy Spice
12 Weirouge
12 Seedling 3317 (mild flavour; hint of oranges)
10 Leicester Burton Pippin (has overtones of vanilla)
10 Seedling 0515 (Knobbly Russet lookalike)
9 Ribston Pippin
4 Seedling 3113 (mild flavour, pinkfleshed, hint of Parma violets)

Donisthorpe Apple Day  2023 Donisthorpe Apple Day  2023
Donisthorpe Apple Day  2023 Donisthorpe Apple Day  2023

8 Oct 23

APPLE DAY, Sat 7 Oct, Cosby
I am pleased to report on a third successful Cosby Apple Day. About 150 people attended, as in 2021, and we were busy talking about apples and grafting and other things for about three and a half hours. There was also a lot of apple identification to be done; a lot of people had brought several fruit to identify; I must have done 50 or 60 during the course of the afternoon: I saw Adam's Pearmain, Laxton's Fortune, Sturmer Pippin, several Newton Wonders, a few Bramleys, some Lord Derbys, a rather pale Gala; even a Packington apple. Alison brought along, for sale, a large number of single-variety apple jams and jellies; she also did most of the organization and advertising. Thank to the people who brought stalls, and to everyone who attended; it was a thorooughly enjoyable afternoon. To those who registered interest in our grafting course in Feb: we will be getting in touch soon.

We arranged a tasting of eight apples with varied flavours, including some unreleased seedlings, and thirty-eight people had a go at tasting all of them and voting for their favourite. As usual the redfleshed apples attracted comment and some surprise, as did the flavours of the unreleased seedlings. Results of the tasting (no of votes cast) were as follows:

13 Seedling 8016 (hints of fennel, amiseed, liquorish)
7 Darcy Spice
6 Leicester Burton Pippin (has overtones of vanilla)
4 Weirouge
3 Seedling 0515 (Knobbly Russet lookalike)
3 Ribston Pippin
2 Seedling 3317 (mild flavour; hint of oranges)
0 Seedling 3113 (mild flavour, pinkfleshed, hint of Parma violets)

As I said two years ago, I think the time has probably come for an expansion of the number of people who eat apples. perhaps apples could be graded, like wines or cheeses, so that if you like, say, a "5", you could look for other apples with a similar grading. It will be interesting to see which apples become popular over the next decade. We were also pleased to note some takers for our grafting course, Sat 17 Feb 2024. If you would like to come too, please email for details.

Some pictures of our display are shown below, taken before the crowds arrived.

Cosby Apple Day  2023 Cosby Apple Day  2023
Cosby Apple Day  2023 Cosby Apple Day  2023

8 Oct 23

APPLE DAY, Sat 7 Oct, Cosby
This will take place at the Methodist church, 11.30-3.30. There will be an apple display and apple tastings of varieties which you won't meet anywhere else, including some of our own seedlings. You will find out that some apples don't even taste like apples.

30 Sep 23

Alison and I were invited to do a talk on apples in the time of Shakespeare for the website 'That Shakespeare Life'. You can hear this on the following link. The website is hosted by Cassidy Cash, who is a firm believer that one cannot understand Shakespeare's plays without understanding the times in which he lived. We were invited to talk about apples; SallyCunningham did a similar talk on potatoes. The podcasts, plus a lot of other information, can be found here:
Apples - Nigel & Alison
Potatoes - Sally

Finally, an apology - I have been remiss in not mentioning Mel Wilson in the introduction to the podcast (...sorry, Mel). Mel was the driving force in getting 'Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project' started many years ago and in locating the majority of the varieties. In addition to giving talks on Leicestershire apples (and many other topics) she runs a successful scion exchange group on Facebook, known as 'UK Scion Exchange Group'; she also supplied useful leads when we were obtaining information for the podcast. We have been working together on Leicestershire apples for nearly 20 years.

27 Sep 23

Julie Drake and I have just filmed another apple tasting at the Marina in North Kilworth. You can find it here:
Apple Tasting 1, 13 Sep 2023: Early Midseason apples

13 Sep 23

We were asked by Ed Cufflin of Leicester Rotary to give a short talk on Leicestershire Heritage Apples. This took place in the Victorian splendour of the Grand Hotel in Leicester, a short walk from Town Hall Square, at lunchtime on Monday 10th July. There was a large and appreciative audience.

11 Jul 23

The family tree which I constructed in 2015 - 2017 is now starting to fruit heavily. There is a sequence of videos on Youtube showing how it was put together; you can find the links on the main apples page by clicking 'Apple Tastings and Other Videos' and scrolling down. I'm putting a picture of the tree on 6 July below. There were about sixty grafts spread over two years, and a total of about 25 varieties. Click the thumbnail for better detail. The varieties include Discovery, Rosette, Sweetings, Laxton's Fortune, Spencer Seedless, Roter Mond, Crimson Gold, Mott's Pink, Whitwick Pippin and Breunsdorfer. The last-mentioned is middle top in the picture, with purple skin and dark leaves.

Family apple tree, 6 July 2023

4 Jul 23

It was fine weather for the Plant & Family Day at Leicester University Botanical garden, Sun 2 July. LHAP was again in the Hall at Beaumont House and we met a variety of people interested in apples, plus several of our past grafting students telling us about the progress of their trees. We also took details from a few people interested in our grafting course at Cosby next February (3rd saturday). Please email us if you too might be interested. Grafting is an essential skill for anyone wanting a career involving fruit trees. We had a special display from our breeding program, plus pictures illustrating common apple tree pests. A few pictures from the event are shown below.

Leicester University Botanical Gdn, 2023 Leicester University Botanical Gdn, 2023
Leicester University Botanical Gdn, 2023 Leicester University Botanical Gdn, 2023

4 Jul 23

One of our apple plots has an unusual foxglove on display (15 June). I'm putting a picture below. I wonder if anyone else has seen one of these? Apparently this is called 'pelorism' and the gene for it is a simple Mendelian recessive, so it should transmit to some extent by seed if I keep a clump of it separate. Friends Mel and Chris have sent information about it, from Kew and elsewhere:

Pelorism, foxglove, 2023

Paula Rudall writes on the Kew website "....a well-known floral genetic mutation that occurs spontaneously but infrequently in nature. I always look out for this lovely mutant when I see a group of foxgloves. Most of the flowers appear normal, but there is a huge bowl-shaped terminal flower that opens before the other flowers, despite being located above them. The terminal flower is radially symmetrical and appears to be composed of a ring of spotted petals somehow stitched together".

17 Jun 23

Last year we donated about 20 apple seedlings to Cotesbach; most of them had one redfleshed parent. These were planted last April to make up a small orchard on the far side of the main road, along with a lot of other English hardwood trees.

Today we learned that they have all survived and are putting on substantial growth, in spite of the dry weather. This evening was the ten-year celebration of the Cotesbach Educational Trust and about 50 people attended. There was an interesting display of historical material referring to the Marriott family in the 1800s. Many thanks to Sophy and Letty for the invitation and a splendid evening.

17 Jun 23

Several years ago we gave a talk to this allotment society. This time they approached us (Alison and me) to give an update on our more recent activities so we put together a talk about our apple breeding, which has been keeping us extremely busy since 2013. We talked about getting apples from seed: our collection of unusual apples, choosing parents; collecting pollen, hand pollination and Alison gave a detailed description of how one raises healthy apple plants from seed.

10 Apr 23

Sat 18 Feb 2023 - A fun day for all with a bit of learning thrown in ...

Cosby grafting course, 2023 Cosby grafting course, 2023
Cosby grafting course, 2023 Cosby grafting course, 2023
Cosby grafting course, 2023 Cosby grafting course, 2023

The course was presented by Nigel and Alison and lasted from 10.00 until 4.30. Some pictures shown above; click on the thumbnails for more detail.

We began at 9.30 for 10.00; introductory talk and lots of photographs on natural grafting, propagating trees from seed, by cuttings and by grafting..... the way in which bark flows downwards on a tree. Then we had a practical session - a 'simulation' illustrating how summer budding is done (you can't do budding in Feb), a digression on roses, another digression on why pruning a tree usually involves taking out the centre and letting in the light. And why pear trees are difficult to prune. And the fascination of apples ... redfleshed fruits, apple colours being better when it's cold; forcing a tree into fruit, chimeras, stepovers, how to multiply rootstocks by stooling, woolly aphid, canker, the National Fruit Collection ... there were so many questions from the students it was difficult to know when to stop.

But eventually we managed 10 minutes grafting. Then it was lunch, followed by a large slice of Alison's apple cake and a tasting/discussion of twelve Phase 3 apples. (those picked very very late: Nov - New Year). Some have peculiar flavours; one apple, Croft Late, was reminiscent of celery and fresh-shelled peas.

There's a picture of the apples we tasted, above. They were:
Crimson Gold, Honeycrisp, MM106, Blackjack,
Rainbow, Burford Redflesh, Croft Late, Rubaiyat,
Burford Yellow, Durrant, an un-named apple and Xmas Pink.

The afternoon saw us practising cleft grafts and whip & tongue grafts; firstly on wood where the thicknesses matched; then on wood where they didn't .... chunky thick rootstock and very very thin scions. Those can be tricky.

By this time the biscuits were getting low so it was time to do the real thing - MM106 rootstocks, choosing the varieties, carrying out the grafts. This was done smoothly and efficiently; then we waxed the joints and the tops; added a grafting envelope ......and the job was complete. A few closing remarks followed, about NOT putting the grafts under cover but finding somewhere where they would be rained on and would not be fried when the sun came out. Finish was about 4.30; and we are very grateful to those who helped us clear away.

You are welcome to keep in touch, and we look forward to seeing pictures of your grafts in 2-3 months time!

Nigel & Alison, 18 Feb 23

Wed 15 Feb: A different group of volunteers pruned about fifteen large trees today at Cotesbach Hall, again led by ND of Leicestershire Heritage Apples; many thanks to Sophy, Annie and Judith - another excellent day and a tasty lunch: homemade leek and potato soup. These trees took more physical effort than the last batch, including significant amounts of sawing, but it was necessary; trees have to be restricted to the space available and they must not be allowed to grow too tall.

pruning at Cotesbach pruning at Cotesbach
pruning at Cotesbach pruning at Cotesbach

15 Feb 23

Sun.12 Feb: Eight of us met at a pop-in grafting session with Judith Egan; the target is to graft 100 trees; mainly Leicestershire varieties, to be planted locally. I grafted eight trees - of Sweetings, Packington and St. Ailred. Many thanks to Judith for the carrot cake!

grafting at Lubenham grafting at Lubenham

14 Feb 23

We were approached by Blaby Rotary to give a short 20m talk about local apples at their normal meeting place, Stanton Lakes. We talked about how apples originated, the meaning of 'heritage apple' and then discussed those varieties having links to Stoney Stanton and the nearby villages Burbage and Broughton Astley. The varieties: the John Vernon apple, the Annie Elizabeth and Prince Charles, from the Herbert Robinson nursery. There was a good turnout (12 local members) and the audience was interested and enthusiastic.

8 Feb 23

Sat. 22 Jan: A small group of enthusiasts pruned about thirty trees today at Cotesbach Hall; many thanks to Sophy, Letty and Judith - an excellent day and a tasty lunch. The trees are now well-shaped and maintenance pruning is straightforward. Next session - the bigger trees, on 15 Feb.

pruning at Cotesbach pruning at Cotesbach

22 Jan 23

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