[NAFEX] One more story on the Bardsey Apple
Lon J. Rombough
lonrom at hevanet.com
Sun Dec 30 20:03:46 EST 2007
Sent by UK NAFEX member Clive Simms. He isn't on this list.
Grapes, writing, consulting, my book, The Grape Grower, at
http://www.bunchgrapes.com Winner of the Garden Writers Association
"Best Talent in Writing" award for 2003.
For even more grape lessons, go to http://www.grapeschool.com
For all other things grape, http://www.vitisearch.com
SPOTLIGHT ON VARIETIES
The Sainted Apple
When you plant them as young trees, one apple variety looks much like
another, but once they fruit you can spot the winners. So you might
think that creamy-pink apples with a refreshingly juicy, lemon-scented
taste that have ripened on a single, gnarled tree on Bardsey Island off
the northwest coast of Wales would have attracted attention years ago.
But the Bardsey Island apple has remained a secret for generations. A
birdwatcher who used the apples to attract ground-feeding birds did not
recognise the variety, and brought some to the Bangor-based orchard
specialist, lan Sturrock.
"The apples had such a pungent lemon smell," says Sturrock. "It was not
like the fruit of anyother apple trees in our part of Wales. The tree
is very old and gnarled and is clinging to one side of Plas Bach, the
grandest house on Bardsey." Sturrock explains that the island was a
place of pilgrimage from Celtic times and, according to legend, the
burial place of saints. The remains of a 13th-century abbey attest to
its lasting appeal as a holy site. "There’s no evidence of an orchard
but the monks were presumably self-sufficient and might have had walled
gardens. This tree could be the last survivor from the early Middle
Sturrock contacted the Bardsey Island Trust, and it was agreed that he
should take wood from the tree to propagate it. Patiently, he grafted
buds from the tree on to a series of rootstocks and nursed them through
the first couple of years. By early this year, he had 175 trees to
.sell and once word got out. they were all snapped up within days.
Graftwood from the tree has been sent to Brogdale Horticultural Trust,
which has some 2300 varieties of apples as part of the
National Fruit Collection. The Bardsey apple will he observed and
compared with the existing varieties. Only than can it be pronounced an
undiscovered rarity - or matched with an existing one.
Sturrock notes that in spite of regular salt spray and the lashing
gales that abrade its branches against the stone wall, the tree has no
disease. He suggests that the saints, or rather their bodies, may have
something to do with its sturdiness. "If there were hundreds of saints
buried there," he theorises, "maybe there's plenty of bonemeal in (he
Malcolm Smith (The Times, 2003)
Bardsey Island apple trees can be purchased from lan Sturrock on 01248
jansturr at clara.co uk www.bardseyapple.co.uk
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