Orchard Links, January 2024

Here are a few orchard and fruit-growing news items and links of interest that I’ve spotted this month.

In this month’s round-up:

Seeking Luton’s Lost Orchards

The Luton Orchards project has secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to undertake a survey of the town’s surviving orchards. From the BBC News Website:

“Project founder and coordinator Konni Deppe believes only 10% of Luton’s historic orchards are left.

She hopes by joining her citizen science scheme, people will take a fresh interest in urban fruit-growing.”

More info on the project at www.lutonorchards.org.

New Book on Orchard History from Joanna Crosby

A new orchard history book has just been published. Apples and Orchards Since the Eighteenth Century by Joanna Crosby is available now from the academic division of Bloomsbury. I’m reading it at the moment and will post a book notes piece before too long.

I first learned about it via the 5th January 2024 episode of Dr. Neil Buttery’s most excellent British Food History Podcast: ‘Apples and Orchards with Joanna Crosby‘, in which the author talks about how she became interested in growing heritage orchards and decided to put her research together into first a PhD and then the book. It’s a very interesting episode indeed, well worth a listen.

New Seedling Apples from Steven Edholm

I’m a huge fan of Steven Edholm’s Skillcult website and associated YouTube channel and I always enjoy reading or watching the details of his apple breeding programme, especially his personal quest to breed a truly excellent red-fleshed apple.

January is always a highlight, as that’s usually when he announces the year’s new seedling apple varieties that he’s making available for purchase as scion wood. This year he has eight new apples that will be available via auction from early February: ‘Jellybean Cider‘, ‘Clarion‘, ‘Black and Red‘, ‘Musketeer‘, ‘Hella Kitty‘, ‘Red Winter Pie‘, ‘Integrity‘, and ‘Twang‘. Some of these look really, really interesting, and I’d love to graft and grow a few of them myself.

They’ll be easier to get hold of if you’re US-based, but prospective UK / EU buyers would probably need to navigate the relevant import regulations for plant material from overseas. In any case, it’s well worth spending some time on Steven’s site, you’re guaranteed to learn a huge amount about apple breeding, grafting, pruning, you name it.

Poiteau and Brookshaw’s Paintings

Via a bit of random researching, I stumbled across this 2021 article by Ana Norman on the Joel Oppenheimer Gallery website: A Comparative Analysis of Poiteau and Brookshaw’s Pomological Prints.

I love the old pomonas, especially the ones that are illustrated with coloured plates. Ana – sadly no bio is provided, so I don’t know if she’s an art historian, art critic, or a curator at the gallery – provides commentary an analysis of the composition, technique, and aesthetic intentions of these two early nineteenth century artists.

A fascinating read if you’re at all interested in pomological art.

Speed Tasting Apples, Babish-style

“Apples. We’ve all had them. But did you know that there’s more than one kind?” So begins the vaguely amusing, bust slightly risible review video from Andrew Rea, chef and proprietor of the always entertaining and (usually) informative Babish Culinary Universe YouTube Channel, as he proceeds to divide a selection of fifty apples into “good” and “bad” types.

I have to admit I only watched Andy chomp his way through the first half-dozen or so of the fifty, but after he’d dismissed “Coy Orange Pippin” (the corrected subtitle read Cox) as “grainy, dry… not much flavour”, without for a second stopping to consider whether the apple in his hand was a) in season or b) a good example of the variety, I have to admit I rather lost faith in the rigour of his review process. I did skim-read the section captions to see what else he’d bitten into (“corte pendu plate” was an interesting name-variant that I’d not come across before) but I didn’t watch the whole video.

It’s a bit of fun, if rather silly, and I suppose it might open a few people’s eyes to the fact that there are more than just a few varieties of apples available, if you go looking for them. But for informed, considered and meaningful tasting notes of American apples, you’d be far better off reading the relevant pages of Adam’s Apples.

That’s it for this month. If you have an orchard-related news item that you’d like me to mention next month, please get in touch, via the details on the contact info page.

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