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Will run next on Sat 18th Feb and Sat 25 Feb 2017. We are now taking bookings.


Thur 15 Sep 2016, Apples Talk, Elmesthorpe WI. Private group. (nd)
Sun 18 Sep 2016, pruning guidance, stone fruit & summer pruning apples (private group), Cotesbach Hall, 10am.(nd)
Tue 27 Sep 2016, Apples talk, Belton; the Village Hall, LE12 9TU. (mw)
Sat 8 Oct 2016, Donisthorpe Apple Day; the Orchard, Donisthorpe 11am - 4pm.(nd)
Sun 9 Oct 2016, Brock's Hill family day; Brock's Hill Park, Oadby, 11am-4pm. (nd)
Tues 22 Nov 2016, Botcheston, marking out orchard for Saturday's planting, 10am-12am (nd)
Sun 20 Nov 2016, pruning guidance, old apple trees (private group), Cotesbach Hall, 10am.(nd)
Wed 23 Nov 2016, Apples talk, 7.30pm. Moulton Gardeners Club, Northants. Private group. (nd)
Sat 26 Nov 2016, Botcheston orchard, tree planting.
Sun 22 Jan 2017, Pruning guidance, Brock's Hill, Oadby. Time to be confirmed
Sat 18 Feb 2017, Grafting Course (5hrs), Cosby Methodist Church Hall (nd)
Sat 25 Feb 2017, Grafting Course (5hrs), Cosby Methodist Church Hall (nd)
Sun 26 Feb 2017, Grafting Workshop (2hrs), Mkt Harb Grafters & Growers, 11-1 (nd/mw), usual venue

If you wish to register interest in our grafting course, please email. Details will be sent to you. Places are filling up quickly....


There are still a few Wicksons left on the tree, and the Croft Late and Burford Yellow are continuing to grow and ripen. The other late varieties have been transferred from containers and planted in the ground; we have therefore had little or no fruit from them this year. Christmas Pink was picked on 23 Nov, along with Pink Pearl, Suttonelms and the Durrant apple.

25 Nov 16

Thur 24 Nov, 8.30 am: our fourth filmed apple tasting carried out, on early winter storing apples. Best of the 12 varieties tasted was West Virginia Sweet, (unfortunately) a biennial tip-bearer of superb flavour. The more reliable West Virginia Beauty was also tasted but only scored 7; this has a similar flavour, is spur bearing and is a steadier cropper, but nowhere near as tasty.

The redfleshed apples Pink Pearl, Grenadine, Burford Redflesh and Hidden Rose all tasted a bit lacklustre, as if they'd not fully ripened; their sugar levels weren't high enough, and Pink Pearl was also rather tart. Perhaps they will improve in sugar on storage, or perhaps they'll go mealy first ... we'll revisit some of these in about a month.

The video of this tasting is online.

results of apple tasting, 23 Nov 2016

24 Nov 16

Wed 23 Nov, 7.30pm: We gave our last apples talk of the season to an interested audience at Moulton, near Northampton, last night, followed by an apple tasting. We were surprised at the large audience: over 100 people from the gardening club's 150-odd membership. There were as usual some apples brought by the audience to identify - a Newton Wonder, a very large Bramley, and a Howgate Wonder.

Moulton apple talk, Northamptonshire... Moulton apple talk, Northamptonshire

24 Nov 16

I am pleased to report that the article I wrote for the Leicester Heritage Society has appeared in their annual journal, and it received a brief mention in the Leicester Mercury in early November.

20 Nov 16

Tues 22 Nov 2016: The orchard was marked out by Sue, Sarah, Sharon and Nigel, ready for the planting which will take place on Saturday (10-4).

It was a drizzly cold day; Sarah was in charge of the layout, and Sue measured up. The second picture shows Sarah and me attempting to construct a right angle with a tape measure; eventually we got it.

Marking out Botcheston Orchard in the rain ... Marking out Botcheston Orchard in the rain ...

If you are able to help on Saturday, please bring a mug (or you won't be able to collect your coffee and soup), and a camping chair. See you there.

22 Nov 16

Sun 18th Nov 2016, Cotesbach Hall. Pleased to report a successful day's pruning in the Cotesbach orchards; all of the young trees are now sorted out and of a sensible height and shape. A number of the older trees have also received some attention and are looking much happier.

In the first picture we are seen sorting out a Bramley which was far too tall; in the second we are seen coaxing a 150-year old Martin's Custard tree back to life. The last picture shows the peculiar upright habit of a Wyken Pippin; John and James are bringing it down to a more sensible height whilst retaining the fruit buds.

Pruning apples at Cotesbach on a gloomy autumn day ... Pruning apples at Cotesbach on a gloomy autumn day ...

Sophy supplied a delicious spread at lunchtime: a choice of three home-made soups, followed by apple and mulberry crumble, using produce from the orchard and garden.

Pruning apples at Cotesbach on a gloomy autumn day

19 Nov 16

16 Oct 2016. Another apple tasting with some slightly later varieties. The Breunsdorfer was re-sampled with fresh fruit straight off the tree and it fared better than last time. A number of other rare varieties were tried including a high-tannin very sweet apple (Giant Radish) and a small eating apple not usually regarded as being of dessert quality (Bieinrode). The results of the tasting are shown below. Some varieties were adversely affected by faulty ripening and low sugar, e.g. Darcy Spice and West Virginia Sweet, cause unknown.

The Seagrave seedling was found growing wild several years ago in a hedgerow in Seagrave and resembles Charles Ross but is smaller; the Brix reading is very high (19.6) which indicates extremely high sugar concentration in the juice. The Potters Marston apple was found growing wild in Leicestershire near the hamlet of that name.

The red mark indicates red or pink-fleshed fruit.

results of apple tasting, 16 Oct 2016

11 Oct 2016. Each apple was tasted by N and J; marked out of 5; total possible = 10.
3 indicates taste average; perfectly ok and not unduly good or bad. 2 denotes not so good; 1 means unpleasant. 4 is very good; 5 outstanding. The apples with a red blotch to the side of the name are redfleshed.

We were pleased to note that two recent redfleshed acquisitions, Rote Alatau and Rote Dries scored highly. Alatau looks very like Weirouge but it is a lot darker, sweeter, lighter and fruitier, with none of Weirouge's unpleasant bitter overtones. Rote Dries, similar to Alatau but smaller, was scored very highly by J; it is a deeper flavour; less fruity with slight bitterness. N marginally preferred the Alatau.

Other points of note: green Golden Noble (under-ripe) scored 6; ripe it scored 8. A yellow fruit has lower acidity and the other flavours are better developed. Newton Wonder wasn't really ripe; it scored 6 and was still in its 'cooking apple' phase. We will see how much it improves later in the season.

Maloni Lilly, which scored badly last year, is superb this year; its astonishing parma violets flavour was very strong and attractive.It was also crisp and not over-juicy. This one is good to grow in pots since it is slow growing - an excellent release by Marcus Kobelt of Lubera, Switzerland. His 'Redlove Circe', which needs to mellow for a week off the tree to reduce the acidity, is somewhat soft in texture but has excellent flavour - lots of 'apple' and very fruity with hints of red berries.

There were different opinions about Wickson. In most of our apple tastings during apple days it has been much enjoyed. However J found the flavour too fierce and slightly unpleasant. N liked the 'champagne flavour very much and gave it 5.

The video of this tasting is online.

results of apple tasting, 11 Oct 2016

11 Oct 16

Nigel and Alison from Leicestershire Heritage Apples were at Brock's Hill 10.30-3.00 with their apple display and apple tasting. Alison also gave advice on composting in her capacity as Master Gardener. It was a sunny and pleasant and was perhaps the busiest day we have had at this venue. We also identified a few apples which people talked about or which they had brought along, including some samples of Newton Wonder and Discovery.

The Leicester Mercury photographer liked the apple display and perhaps our photo will be in the paper soon.

Apple tasting was again popular. Varieties of apple sampled by our visitors included: Wyken Pippin, Golden Noble, Redlove Circe, MM106, Ribston, Pink Pearmain, Weirouge, Newton Wonder, Pendragon,Chapman's Colossus, Deerpark Seedling, Laxton's Fortune, Maloni Lilly, Malus Soulardii and Wickson.

Donisthorpe apple day ... Donisthorpe apple day ...

Donisthorpe apple day ...

We heard some interesting comments about some of the apple flavours. One young child decribed Pendragon as tasting a bit like a carrot (it did); older people and one young person recognized and commented upon the parma violets flavour of Maloni Lily. Chapman's Colossus had overtones of elderflower according to two people; Laxton's Fortune an aftertaste of mead and aniseed. One person described Pink Pearmain as reminding her of the sweet flavour in bubblegum.

A number of people asked to be informed about our grafting course in February. However, Robert M - although you left us an email address, your handwriting is illegible. Unless you see this and email us, we will be unable to contact you.

9 Oct 16

Nigel and Alison from Leicestershire Heritage Apples were at the Donisthorpe Apple Day again, making five years in a row. There were numerous events - cider stall, cider tastings and judging, homemade cakes, apple pressing, apple identification and tasting, etc. It was overcast in the morning but sunny in the afternoon, when more people turned out. We were sorry that our brew of pink cider (made from Maypole mixed with apples from the Donisthorpe orchard) could not be found and so we were unable to put our entry in for the judges.

Donisthorpe apple day ... Donisthorpe apple day

9 Oct 16

Cotesbach Apple Day is on Saturday October 22nd this year, at the Stable Yard, Cotesbach.

Cotesbach apple day poster


results of apple tasting, 1 Oct 2016...

Apples featured: Weirouge, Roter Mond, M. soulardii, Maypole, Langton Nonsuch, Surfleet Sour, two own-bred seedlings, Laxton's Fortune, Mott's Pink, Witney Deerpark apple and Breunsdorfer. The only familiar commercial variety in the list is Laxton's Fortune.

1 Oct 16

Mel Wilson gave a talk on Leicestershire Heritage Apples at the village hall in Belton on 27 Sep 2016, followed by a tasting of some unusal apple varieties.

Another useful pruning course took place on Sun 18 Sept at Cotesbach Hall, organised by Judith Egan, assisted by members of her growers and grafters group. Pruning instruction started at 10am and we sorted out a large number of trees which had become top-heavy and congested. Sophy provided a superb lunch in the new Educational Centre. The Cotesbach Orchards contain several of the Leicestershire apples, including a 150-year-old specimen of Martin's Custard and the recently-discovered Langton Nonesuch.

pruning apples at Cotesbach Hall, 18 Sep 16

The picture shows an apple tree (Rev. W. Wilkes), before pruning and later when most of the water shoots had been removed. The growth at the top of the tree had to be left because it contained some unripe apples. The pruning will be finished off in November.

Pictures of the pruning team are shown below: Gabriela, Nigel, Sophy, Cee and Judith. Susan (not pictured) also provided valuable assistance.

pruning apples at Cotesbach Hall, 18 Sep 16

18 Sep 16

Nigel and Alison gave their talk on Heritage Apples and how they found the lost Leicestershire apples at Elmesthorpe, Fri 16 Sep 16 at 8pm. The talk was to the local W.I. and about forty people attended. There was an apple tasting afterwards (about a dozen early varieties) which included the Prince Charles apple bred in Burbage at the now-disappeared Herbert Robinson Nursery.

17 Sep 16

20 July: Leicestershire Sweetings
23 July: Hall's Pink
24 July: Norfolk Rattlebox.

25 Jul 16

We are having some of our Leicestershire and rare varieties DNA tested.

8 Jul 16

This took place on 3 Jul 16, 11am-4pm. LHAP was there as usual, in The Knoll. Signing up for the grafting course was popular, and there was much interest in our display on the pruning of older trees and our samples of dried fruit. Three lots of grafting students from Feb called in to tell us about their trees.

3 Jul 16

The Foxton project is continuing; planting of Leicestershire varieties on the peninsula was done on 30th June, organized by Judith Egan and filmed by Julie Drake. See our separate web page about it here, including links to the vidoes.

30 Jun 16

22 May, Botcheston Organic Farm, 3pm; second public meeting.

We are pleased to report that the community orchard project is able to proceed, thanks to a generous grant from GREGGS PLC. We can now afford the trees, which will be ordered shortly, and the set-up costs for the orchard. A group of about 20 volunteers has been assembled to help with planting and orchard maintenance.

The next stage of the project will be to mark out a grid on the one-acre site, once the hay has been cut. Planting of the bought trees should be at some time during November. About twenty of the trees have been grafted with the help of LHAP (Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project) and these will need growing to a height of about 3ft before being planted; this will occur later.

There will be a large number of Leicestershire and other heritage apples, both eating and cooking, with additional cherries, plums, gages, medlars, pears and a mulberry. We are presently working out some of the practical details, such as the best form of rabbit protection for the young trees.

We wish to thank GREGGS PLC for making the project possible.

Part of the meeting was filmed by Julie Drake, and this will be put onto Youtube shortly.

Update - here is the link for the Botcheston video

22 May 16

11 May, Foxton, top lock, 4.30pm. There was a meeting of Judith Egan, Mark Whitfield and Nigel Deacon, to inspect what had been done since October. Filming was done by Julie Drake, and the resulting video is on youtube. (Google: Foxton Locks Orchard Project)

Much of the designated peninsular area had been cleared of brambles and scrub, and the two older apple trees had been much improved by removal of dead wood and thorough pruning. A swan was seen nesting a few yards upriver, and a heron on the cleared area.

There is now room to put in some picnic tables, some signage, and several apple trees, which will probably be Leicestershire heritage varieties. The plot was originally the lock-keeper's garden; he lived in the cottage opposite about 70 years ago. We are in the process of deciding which apple varieties would be appropriate for the site.

Update - here is the url for the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1p59zCBk0o

15 May 16

Another interesting redfleshed apple recently obtained from Belgium. The flowers are very like those of Weirouge and Roter Mond, and are seen at about the same time.

roter drie4s blossomo picture

10 May 16

First flowers on a seedling which should produce good fruit; Whitwick Pippin x George's Red. Quite early blossom; 10 days after Pink Pearl and Webster Pinkmeat.

first flowers on one of our own-produced seedlings

3 May 16

Mel Wilson gave a talk on Leicestershire Heritage Apples on Tues 26 April, Ashby U3A, in the Congregational Church, Kilwarby St, Ashby.

27 Apr 16

A memorable day on 30 Mar; we have first-ever flowers on one of our home-produced seedlings. The tree looks like an ornamental malus; it has small red leaves, tiny white flowers just over half an inch in diameter, and the scion wood is yellowish-white. The branches resemble those of peach trees: thin spindly wood with external colour red. We expect berry-like fruit. The blossom date is exceptionally early; about a fortnight earlier than our first redfleshed variety (Webster Pinkmeat).

Picture of one of the flowers:

first-ever flowers on one of our own-produced seedlings

1 Apr 16

I'm trying for the first time some nurse grafts, which should result in own-roots trees. A piece of rootstock root is grafted to a cutting of the variety being copied, as shown in the photograph below.

This is put deep into a pot for a while, and then planted out. The tape is left on, since the purpose of the nurse graft is to keep the cutting alive for long enough to form its own roots. The nurse root should die (or may need to be cut off); we'll know in October. I've done about a dozen, using MM106 roots.

One of the advantages of own-root trees is that they have longer lifespans than those which are grafted. There is also a perfect matcgh between roots and branches, which reputedly gives the fruit a better flavour. There are some disadvantages but I'll go into that later if the nurse grafts are successful.

23 Mar 16

Each apple scored out of 5 by N and J; total score out of 10. Christmas Pippin came top; Mere Pippin a close second. Date of tasting: 10 March 2016. Most of these apples had been picked on or after Christmas Day.

This tasting has been filmed and is on Youtube. See link

12 Mar 16

Steve in Kirby Muxloe has generously volunteered his help and a plot in setting up a new orchard, the Richardson Orchard. This will enable us to get more rare trees into the ground, including Leicestershire varieties, Leicestershire unique seedlings and some rare redfleshed types. This will mean in future years that more of these fruits will be available for people to sample, and there will be better supplies of scions (for making more trees) and pollen (for our breeding programme). The first ten trees were delivered and planted on 7 Mar 16.

10 Mar 16

We are currently collaborating with Botcheston Farm in setting up an orchard. More about this will be found shortly on the 'Raw n Pure' website. The orchard will contain a selection of good flavoured heritage varieties and most of the apples which originate in Leicestershire. We recently spent a day grafting trees for this orchard. Some of the grafting activity is shown below.



The apple-picking season is longer than is generally realised. The first apples can be picked in mid-July, but they can be picked through September, October, November, December and January if the correct varieties are chosen.

The Botcheston orchard will contain three main kinds of apple: Heritage varieties noted for their fine flavour, Leicestershire varieties which are well suited to a cold-county climate and soil, and late winter varieties, which in most years are best picked after Christmas Day. These late apples will store for the whole of the winter.

2 Mar 16

We have a possible candidate for the lost Ashby apple, as noted on our 2015 page (see link above), from an ancient tree in Ashby. It is something of a puzzle. The apple is large and low in acid and more or less green when picked. On storage it becomes quite highly coloured and the riper it gets, the more it looks like Howgate Wonder, but it doesn't seem acidic enough to be this variety.

Looking at the Catalogue of Fruits cultivated in the garden of the Horticultural Society of London at Chiswick (1842), under the entry 'Ashby Seedling', we find this description:

Prevailing colour: yellow / red, (MATCH)
Usual form: roundish, (MATCH)
Size: Middle-sized, (DOES NOT MATCH)
Use: Table (ie dessert), (MATCH)
Quality: second-rate, (NOT SURE) (the three options are first-rate, second-rate, indifferent or bad).
Season: Dec-Jan. (MATCH)

... ...

... ...

This is certainly an interesting tree. Whether it is the Ashby apple remains to be seen. It may be worth a place in our collection of 'Leicestershire Unique Seedlings', some of which are very good fruit. We have grafted three trees to see what the fruit is like when produced on a young disease-free rootstock. Many thanks to J for the scion wood.

2 Mar 16

27th Feb 2016, 9.30 - 3pm, Cosby Methodist Church Hall. A good mix of students again; we were helped by Anne-Marie, who gave valuable assistance in inspecting grafts and suggesting how they might be improved. Alison again supplied an apple cake, and there was an apple tasting of late winter varieties (11 types including Blackjack, Christmas Pippin, Christmas Pink, the High Cross apple, Whitwick Pippin and some redfleshed types). As for scions, there were 10 Heritage varieties, 7 Leicestershire, 5 Redfleshed and 3 Leicestershire Unique Seedlings. Our next Cosby course will be in the third Saturday of next year.

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1 Mar 16

21st Feb 2016, 11am - 1pm, St. Hugh's Hall, Granville Rd, Mkt. Harborough. About a dozen people attended this workshop organised by Judith Egan, for the purpose of constructing (mainly) more Leicestershire Heritage apple trees as part of an ongoing initiative to preserve both the skill of grafting and important local varieties; a very worthwhile project. This was the fourth such workshop in as many years.

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21 Feb 16

20th Feb 2016, 9.30 - 3pm, Cosby Methodist Church Hall. Eight keen students attended, and departed with sixteen new trees. We keep our fingers crossed for their survival! Alison supplied an excellent apple cake, and there was an apple tasting of late winter varieties (11 types including Christmas Pippin, Christmas Pink, the High Cross apple, Whitwick Pippin and some redfleshed types), and a selection of about 20 varieties of scion including 7 Leicestershire apples and some Leicestershire unique seedlings. Some pictures are shown below.

We were pleased to learn from one of our participants that our 'Leicestershire Heritage Apples' evening was voted the most interesting talk of 2015 by Oadby Trefoil.

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... ...

20 Feb 16

We are now collecting scions for grafting workshops and courses later this month. Cut scions to about 9 inches in length, wrap in moist paper towels or wet cloth (wring it out first, then roll up the scions in it); then place in a plastic bag, roll this up, unsealed, and put in the bottom of the fridge. If possible put separate labels on every scion. Inspect once a week for drying out or excessive moisture.

9 Feb 16

An all-day pruning training session on Sun 24 Jan at Cotesbach Hall (six people attended) resulted in about thirty young trees looking in much better shape. Thanks to all who attended, and to Judith Egan and Sophy for organizing the event.

25 Jan 16

For grafters - a reminder that now is the time to order rootstocks, if you have not done so already.

Secondly, now is the time to prune apple trees, apart from the twigs you wish to use as scions. If any vines are still unpruned they should be done straight away. Leave plums and damsons and peaches until the summer.

21 Jan 16


Please contact us if you would like to help with the project Leicestershire apples, or you have a small piece of land where we could plant trees. We need people with initiative who don't need to be told what to do next.

Nigel Deacon / Mel Wilson /Alison Deacon

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