As part of the redesign of my garden I have been busy researching which varieties of fruit trees I should plant. One of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make is which apple varieties to go for. Apple’s are split into pollination groups. A group is made up of those trees that flower at the same time and therefore can transfer pollen to each other. So it’s imperative that you choose two varieties from the same group.
If only it was this simple then everything would be fine. However, some varieties in each group are either self-fertile or are what’s known as Triploid (ie they produce pollen but are unable to pollinate other trees). If you choose a Triploid variety (like Blenheim Orange, Bramley’s Seedling, or Jonagold), you effectively have to ensure that you have three trees in all, the Triploid, its pollinator and another tree to pollinate the pollinator. Complex huh?
Another consideration is how damp your conditions are. Apple trees don’t take kindly to sitting in wet conditions and there are a few varieties that will not tolerate damp and cold, – one of these being the very popular Cox’s Orange Pippin. So you need to avoid those if you live anywhere that’s not very mild.
Yet another consideration is whether the tree is a tip-bearer (bears its fruit on the tips of branches) or a spur-bearer (bears its fruit along the side of each branch). The first is fine for and orchard situation but if you want ornamental trees you need to choose spur-bearers.
One more consideration (stay with me, we’re nearly there) is whether the tree bears fruit yearly or biennially. If you choose two trees that are Biennial then you could be in trouble if they both flower in different years. Add to that the choice of whether you will be growing eating apples or cooking apples and you have one complex decision to make.
So after around 3 weeks of research, finally I have made my decision. I’ll be going for:
You might have noticed that Greensleeves is self-fertile. This is okay because Greensleeves will pollinate Discovery but Discovery doesn’t necessarily need to pollinate Greensleeves. This should ensure that Greensleeves will always crop.
I’ve found the RHS Fruit & Vegetable Gardening book invaluable in helping me make my decisions.
Anyone else thinking about buying apple trees? Which varieties did you go for and why?