[NAFEX] Welsh gardeners keen to bite into one of the world's rarest apples
Sam.Brungardt at state.mn.us
Fri Dec 28 11:00:50 EST 2007
I thought some of you would find this story, from a Welsh newspaper, of
interest (especially about a U.S. nursery having ordered budwood of the
Bardsey apple. See also http://www.bardseyapple.co.uk/tree.html for
more info about this apple. -- Sam Brungardt, St. Paul, Minn.
Welsh gardeners keen to bite into one of the world's rarest apples
Dec 27 2007 <http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/wales-news/2007/12/27/>
by Rhodri Clark, Western Mail
ONE of the world's rarest trees has become a must-have for
green-fingered Welsh patriots.
Nearly 10 years ago a birdwatcher noticed an apple tree growing beside a
house on Bardsey, off the Lln Peninsula, and alerted Welsh orchard
expert Ian Sturrock.
One of the world's leading authorities on apple species, based in Kent,
later declared it the rarest apple tree in the world.
Now Mr Sturrock - who specialises in growing native Welsh fruit trees by
grafting small pieces of them onto rootstock - cannot keep up with
demand for Bardsey apple saplings.
Having sent them across Britain and overseas, he is now sending wood
from a Bardsey tree to a nursery in the US - for grafting on the other
side of the pond.
Americans have been asking for the trees, but strict US import rules
prevent saplings being sent there from Wales.
In Wales, the fashion for home-grown organic foods among the
professional classes has led to hundreds of Bardsey apple trees being
"It has become quite a cultural thing," said Mr Sturrock.
"I took some to a shop in Usk in November. They sold out immediately.
"Lots of doctors have bought Bardsey trees. That's a funny one - an
apple a day and all that business. They're educated and middle-class.
They're aware of the benefits of fruit. They've got lots of money, which
means they've got lots of land.
"Fashion changes. Fifty years ago, it would be the poor working-class
people that would grow their own food. Now it's the middle and upper
classes who do that.
"The poor old working class buy ready-made food from supermarkets.
"The nearest they get to an apple is a McDonald's apple pie."
Since starting to sell young Bardsey apple trees seven years ago, he has
sold 3,000. But this year the trees could be in short supply.
"We've sold out," said Mr Sturrock, whose nursery is near Bangor. "Some
of my trees that I was going to sell in two years' time I've sold
He sold 150 of the trees to entrepreneurs in Gwynedd, who plan to make a
unique Welsh cider from Bardsey apples, once the trees produce
He said the apple appealed strongly to people who live on other islands,
including the Scilly Isles, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Sicily and
various Greek islands. Having survived for decades on windswept Ynys
Enlli, as Bardsey is known in Welsh, it should be hardy enough for most
other European islands.
Others have been sent to customers in France, Italy, Austria, Germany
"Christian people want it because it's got the Bardsey connection," said
Welsh folklore names Ynys Enlli as the burial place of 20,000 saints.
"Pagan people like it because of the original Bardsey connection.
Holidaymakers who have stayed on Bardsey are keen to have one."
Usually gardeners buy fruit and vegetables because they know and like
the taste of the produce. In this case, however, few of the buyers have
ever tasted the fruit, which is said to have a lemon scent.
Mr Sturrock said some people were delighted to be pioneers with a
species whose care and best planting position are not described in any
"They're interested in experimenting. There's a bulletin board on the
Bardsey apple tree website for people to share their ideas and
Retired electricity-board supervisor Eddie Darbyshire of Pentraeth,
Anglesey, gave his wife Mona a Bardsey tree for her birthday four years
She had previously won prizes for her apples.
"The first two years I didn't let any blossom come on," said Mrs
"The third year we had a couple of apples. This year we had 30 apples.
It was wonderful.
"They were just my type of apple - not too sweet. They're tangy when you
bite into them."
But are gardeners focusing too much attention on this one variety, when
several other native Welsh species have been resurrected?
"A lot of people who start with a Bardsey apple tree then become
interested in these other Welsh varieties," said Mr Sturrock.
"But a lot of people want to buy more than one Bardsey apple tree for
"I say it's much better to have one of them and something like the Cox
Cymraeg, which fruits later in the season, or the Afal Nant Gwrtheyrn,
which I discovered by the Welsh-language centre."
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