Fruit tree collections
Themed fruit tree collections to inspire your garden or community orchard project
Planting several fruit trees together can provide you with the benefits of fresh fruit straight from your garden or orchard over a longer period. We have selected groups of fruit trees which might give you some ideas for your own collection.
You might also want to browse our fruit tree categories.
Although Devon and Cornwall are amongst the sunniest areas of the UK, the climate is surprisingly challenging for apple trees. The low-lying areas around the coast enjoy mild winters, and sunny summers. The main problem is the relatively high rainfall throughout the year, which creates humid conditions, and means that the diseases such as scab and canker are far more prevalent than in elsewhere in the UK. Inland the high ground of Exmoor and Dartmoor have much shorter growing seasons and only very tough varieties can be grown in these areas.
As a rule of thumb, try to avoid varieties that are susceptible to scab and canker.
The climate of much of central Europe is perfect for growing apples, particularly the band running eastwards from the Loire and Charente regions of France into southern Germany and northern Italy. However further south into the Mediterranean region, the climate starts to get a bit too hot for most of the apple varieties commonly grown in the UK. Fortunately there are still a number of apple varieties that are very happy to grow in the Mediterranean climate. The varieties listed here are those which are likely to be successful in the hot and sunny climates of the south of France, and the Mediterranean coast of northern Spain and Italy.
We do not usually recommend Cox's Orange Pippin for this type of climate, although we know of customers who grow this variety. Instead Rubinette or Kidd's Orange Red, which are both related to Cox's Orange Pippin, are likely to be better choices.
One of the great attractions of growing your own fruit trees is that you can decide exactly how you want the trees to grow. Many gardeners now prefer an organic, or better still, an "un-treated" regime where the trees are grown without the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. Most new community orchard projects also adopt organic or un-treated principles.
In a garden or community orchard situation where outright production is not necessarily the main aim, almost any apple variety can be grown organically. You will probably get a slightly reduced crop, with fewer "class 1" apples - but the flavour will be the same and you have the benefit of knowing that the fruit has been grown entirely free of chemical contamination.
However there are some varieties which are particularly worth considering if you want to grow apple trees without chemicals. These are generally strong trouble-free varieties that do not seem to be bothered by the usual apple diseases of scab, canker, or mildew. Interestingly whilst some of the varieties we recommend are very modern ones which have been specifically developed to incorporate genes for disease resistance, most are older varieties which have a proven track record of being disease-free.
It is worth noting that most crab apples are also suitable for growing without herbicides and pesticides.
A final thing to remember is that even the toughest varieties still benefit from a bit of help. In our opinion applying a protective mulch around your new trees is one of the best ways to help them establish, as it suppresses competing weeds.
More information about buying organic apple trees.
These mainstream apple varieties produce high quality juice which can be used for juicing and hard cider production. See also our list of specialist cider apple varieties.
If you want to grow your own apples but are not sure which variety to choose, there is a lot to be said for picking apple varieties which are especially easy to grow. These will reward you with good quality apples in most years and in most situations, with little effort on the part of the gardener.
All the varieties in this collection are particularly easy to grow and require minimum looking after. In most cases you can just plant the tree and let it get on with growing and producing apples for you.
Many of these varieties are self-fertile or partially self-fertile, and if you live in a suburban area or a village there will invariably be other apple trees around to help with pollination. However if you are not sure, just call or email us and we will help you choose which variety is best for you.
A collection of traditional English apple varieties with their roots in the Victorian era.
In temperate climates the best place to grow fruit trees is in a sheltered south-facing situation, since sunlight and warmth help to maximise the quantity, colour and flavour of the fruit. However there are some varieties that will tolerate the low-light and cold of a north-facing wall, which can allow you to get a crop of fresh fruit even in this difficult situation.
In practice many north-facing walls may get some direct sunlight for part of the day. Depending on the extent of light you may be successful with several other varieties, particularly culinary fruits, and hardy early-season apples.
Growing fruit trees in the north west of Scotland is a challenge because fruit trees do not like wet, wind, or altitude - all of which is available in abundance in this area. However you can still be successful if you pay attention to the local situation, and careful selection of varieties and rootstocks. The selection below is of varieties we think or have been advised should be successful in this area. Please note that there is unfortunately a delivery surcharge for this region.
It is vital to provide shelter from the wind and rain, avoid ground that gets water-logged or is too acidic, and make sure the fruit trees get as much of the available sunlight as possible.
Training the trees against a south-facing wall will get the best results. If growing in open (sheltered) ground, consider a dwarf-rootstock so that the tree stays small and is less exposed to wind damage.
For pears and apples, early-ripening varieties are better-suited to the shorter growing season than later varieties.
For much of our history the cooking apple reigned supreme, and indeed the UK is the only country where a definite distinction is made between "cookers" and "eaters". However after the Victorian era the eating apple gradually became pre-eminent, and knowledge of the tremendous variety of English cooking apples was slowly lost, until only the trusty Bramley remained. If you are only going to have one cooking apple then it is hard to beat Bramley of course, but we are glad to see that in the 21st century cooks and gardeners are once more looking beyond Bramley to enjoy the qualities of a wider range of traditional cooking apples.
Whilst many apple varieties can be used for culinary purposes, varieties that are good for eating fresh tend to be too sweet and insubstantial when cooked. In contrast, real cooking apples typically have a robust "sub-acid" flavour, which mellows during cooking, and is the key to achieving the best flavour in pies, tarts, and crumbles.
Many of these culinary varieties are also good for juicing, as their juice has a good acidic backbone which can then be sweetened with the addition of other varieties.
One of the key attributes of cooking apples is what happens during the cooking process - some cook down to a puree (useful for pie fillings), whilst others retain their some of their shape (useful for tarts with chunky fillings) or can be sliced and retain their shape (useful for French-style patisseries). In general the more acidic the apple the more likely it is to transform into a puree when heated, although the structure of the flesh is also a factor. The famous English Bramley apple is also one of the most acidic, hence is an ideal variety for recipes which call for apple puree.
This collection of 10 trees is designed for the UK dessert apple enthusiast who wants to be able to harvest fresh apples throughout the season from mid-summer to late autumn. Most of the varieties in this collection are easy or fairly easy to grow.
As a minimum in this collection we would recommend (in approximate order of ripening) Discovery, Katy, Egremont Russet, Falstaff, Spartan, Kidd's Orange Red, Winter Gem. This will give you a spread of apples through the season, and also a good mix of textures and flavours. For extra mid-season interest, add Sunset or Red Devil.