Our orchard is laden with fruit for the first time in a few years after some restorative pruning, feeding and pollination from our honeybees.
The apple trees were planted as part of the Cheshire Orchard Project with the support of the Cheshire Landscape Trust in winter 1999/2000 to promote the use of locally bred fruit varieties. Up to the late 1940s, the large conurbations of Manchester and Liverpool were supplied with much of their fresh fruit from local sources, but in line with the rest of the country, most of the fruit now comes from abroad.
Although Cheshire might not spring to mind as readily as Herefordshire or Kent we have over 30 apple varieties bred in the county. Several of these are grown here at Jodrell Bank, including those pictured below.
There are both dessert (eating) and culinary (cooking) apples in our orchard, many of which are used in our cafe where they’ll be turned into delicious cakes.
Lord Derby (culinary) grows well on wet, clay soil and was first recorded in 1862: ‘Flesh cooks to an attractive deep claret colour and is especially delicious sweetened with brown sugar.’ Raised by Mr B W Witham of Reddish, Stockport.
Another culinary apple, Lord Clyde was also raised by nurseryman B W Witham of Reddish in 1866.
The original tree was found growing in Minshull village, near Crewe, in 1777. Fruits have firm, crisp, white flesh with a very acid and bitter flavour, best cooked.
Both culinary and dessert, Eccleston Pippin was raised, or found before 1883 by NF Barnes, the Head Gardener at Eaton Hall, Eccleston, Cheshire. NF Barnes also raised Millicent Barnes (dessert, 1902) and Arthur W. Barnes (culinary, 1903) both named after his children and both cultivars are planted here.
Aside from enjoying the cakes produced in the autumn, there is blossom to be enjoyed in the spring as our bees buzz between them and the fruit makes for a good display through the summer months.
Head of Gardens and Interpretation