It doesn’t look much different from several earlier photos but on closer inspection you can see that there’s now a third row of fruit trees planted in our young orchard. All the apple varieties in row one have already proved their worth and appear again in this third row. Here’s a flashback to the first row trees in fruit.
Row 3 is longer than row 1 so there was room for one extra apple before the plum tree at the end. Out of dozens of possibilities I chose one with an obscure, distant family connection – Lane’s Prince Albert. Described in Hogg’s Fruit Manual of 1884 as ‘a very excellent culinary apple’ and ‘a marvelous bearer’, the Prince Albert apple was raised by Thomas Squire of Berkhamsted early in the 19th century. The variety was propagated by Lane’s Berkhamsted nursery and introduced to the public at the British Pomological Society Meeting of 1857, where it was described as ‘a good bearer, a good cooker, good keeper and a good eater after Christmas. Another good point is that it will thrive on any soil and grows almost like a weed.’ Whether Prince Albert will feel at home in Northumberland is yet to be seen.
And the family connection? Many of my mum’s ancestors came from the Chiltern villages around Berkhamsted, including one great uncle who was a fruit grower in Buckland Common at the end of the nineteenth century. In one of the odd quirks of internet wandering, a family history search a brought me to the Neighbourhood Plan for Buckland parish where I discovered that ‘old orchards from the 19th Century are still visible. These were used for the cultivation of Prince Albert Apples and Aylesbury Plums, grown for the London markets’.
The Aylesbury Plum isn’t going to make it into our orchard. The Plum is a damson and a place in row 4 is already reserved for a Lyth Valley Damson – another family connection….