The seek for the Leicestershire St. Cecilia apple continues. On 18 Feb, scions had been collected from three previous bushes in the St. Joseph’s space, close to the Abbey. These have now been grafted. We await with interest (in three years’ time) the fruit on the new trees. St. Cecilia is a lesser-identified apple bred by Friar Ailred McPike, within the 1940s, at the Abbey. Better identified is the St. Ailred apple, which is available from us and from a couple of nurseries; both apples have been bred from James Grieve x Ellison’s Orange, however the final identified tree of St. Cecilia has disappeared. Judging by the mother and father, it would most likely be a James Grieve-type apple, maybe with a trace of anise in its flavour, with black blotches on the skin. We have no written description. The apple we discovered on the bottom in November, which could also be St. Cecilia, is shown in the second picture. On 15 Feb 2014 seven students gathered to discover ways to graft fruit trees at Cosby Methodist Church Hall from members of the Leicestershire Heritage Apples team – Alison, Claire and Nigel.

The course started at 10am and began with two quick talks on various points of grafting and a budding train. The work progressed to practising the cleft graft and the whip-and-tongue graft on scions and stocks of various thicknesses. After a wonderful apple cake prepared by Alison and an apple tasting (of several very late unusual varieties, all picked after 1st Jan) the afternoon session was used to make two apple timber each. Great concentration was shown (see the images beneath) and there was no blood. The course concluded at about 3pm. Will probably be run again subsequent year, identical venue, third Saturday in February. We’re happy to see so much enthusiasm for this vital horticultural talent, and prolong our due to Claire Moore for helping to run the session. The special high quality of this apple is its amazingly late ripening. These apples, from a small tree in a container, had been picked on 31 Jan. The fruit tastes recent and firm; no acid, quite sweet, and a very barely bitter aftertaste.

The looks is kind of engaging and the shape is considerably ribbed and irregular. The expansion habit could be very vigorous. The grafting season is approaching, so we will quickly be busy making new timber; principally the Leicestershire Heritage varieties. However others can be done too; e-mail if there’s a particular variety which we’ve got that you simply cannot get wherever else. If you possibly can arrange collection (we do not use carriers) and may collect, we could also be able to help. We’ve numerous timber to re-pot and to plant out, but the very wet weather is causing a delay. Nevertheless the trees will likely be dormant for a while yet, so there isn’t a need to hurry. Members of LHAP assisted with an apple planting at Woodstone Primary School, Ravenstone on 10 Jan 2014. The trees have been Leicestershire heritage varieties. We’re pleased to see local colleges doing such excellent work with students and increasing their awareness of the place meals comes from.

Click on the pictures to see the element. Late apple tasting done on 4 Jan 2014; these had been all very late ‘part 3’ varieties with concentrated flavours. High Cross (dry and quite acidic), Croft Late, Durrant (very sweet, parma violets, no acidity), Wickson (tart, fruity, very juicy), Grenadine (past its finest; acidity gone and crumbly texture). LHAP was invited to a tree planting in Stoke Golding on 5 Dec 2013. For 2 years, students at Saint Martin’s Catholic Voluntary Academy have been involved in learning about apples, in a mission coordinated by Mrs. Doreen Rose. Stage 1 was to hunt permission to analyze the gardens of native individuals through the apple season to analyze the wide range of apples grown close by, especially their flavours and appearances. Local people allowed pupils to take apples away to a specifically-organized ‘Apple Day’, and to study slightly about how to determine them. Stage 2 was to take small items of wooden from these trees in February, and to make use of the cuttings (often known as ‘scions’) to make new apple trees. Stage 3 was to plant a nursery bed, which is shown below. The photographs show the top of the school, Mrs. Brenda Carson (and a scholar involved with the undertaking) planting the final two trees. Students are fully involved at every stage, and eventually the younger trees will be used to start out a brand new group orchard on a part of the land previously occupied by the old Convent. I’m involved with various people in mapping the community orchards (and some other orchards) of Leicestershire. This is an ongoing project.

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