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.
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.
The temperamental Cox's Orange Pippin is widely considered to have the best flavour of any apple variety. Ever since it was introduced in the 19th century apple enthusiasts around the world have tried to improve upon its elusive aromatic flavour. Arguably none of them have quite succeeded - but in the process they have raised a whole new generation of Cox-style apples, often with very good flavours in their own right and frequently easier to grow than Cox or better adapted to different climate situations.
All the varieties in this collection are directly descended from Cox's Orange Pippin, or thought to have a close relationship. It is interesting that whilst their development is separated in time and space, the work of the individuals involved shines through in the apples they developed. Imagine a dinner party where these enthusiasts could sit down together to discuss their common love of Cox's Orange Pippin!
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.
A collection of fruit trees where flavour is the one and only quality of interest.
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.
Most fruit trees can be grown in containers, but slow-growing or less-vigorous varieties are most suitable. It is also worth considering apple trees on the very dwarfing M27 rootstock, see our stock list for details of our M27 apple range.
We also have an article growing fruit trees in pots and containers with more ideas.
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.
Gages are a type of European plum, but usually categorised separately because of their distinctive flavour. All gages have a rich sweet flavour, perhaps best described as plum-like but with a hint of melon. Picked and eaten straight from the tree on a warm summer afternoon, gages are perhaps the most luxurious of orchard fruits.
Gages can be further divided, if you are so inclined, into three categories:
Green gages. These gages are pale green in colour, usually quite small, and distinctly round (unlike the elongated shape common to many plums). They are possibly the older form of gage.
Yellow gages. Generally larger than their green cousins, although still spherical. At the risk of making a sweeping generalisation, they tend to have a simpler and less intense flavour than the green gages. They also look far prettier in a fruit bowl.
Transparent gages. Perhaps the prettiest of all gages, they are usually have light yellow skins, flushed with red. The skin and flesh have a translucent quality, and in some cases you can see the stone inside the plum if you hold it up to the light.
All gages are superb for eating fresh, and the green and transparent ones are also very good in the kitchen (particularly if picked slightly under-ripe).
Gages are not quite as heavy-cropping as mainstream European plums, and benefit from being planted in a sheltered spot in full sun. However like all plums they are fairly easy to grow, and make an excellent addition to the garden or home orchard.
Whether it's for your Yummy Mummy or your Gorgeous Gran why not give a present that will truly last a lifetime and provide enjoyment throughout the whole year. An appropriately named fruit tree will not only convey the sentiments you want but will also have beautiful blossom in spring and wonderful fruit in summer and autumn. Choose from any of those we have in stock or alternatively buy a gift certificate for your Mum or Gran to select the tree of their own choice. Either way you will be giving a lasting sentiment that will continue to grow over the years to come.
Although not usually grown commercially, russet apples with their sandpaper-like skin are popular amongst gardeners and home orchardists. There are several different varieties, and whilst they are not necessarily related to each other, they tend to share some common characteristics - notably the attractive russet colouring, a sweeter flavour, and flesh which is firm rather than crunchy.
This collection of 12 fruit trees is intended to give you an introduction to the flavours and qualities of a range of apples, pears, cherries, and plums. The varieties chosen have good flavours and a spread of cropping through the fruit-growing season. Each variety can be pollinated by its partners or is self-fertile so there is no need to worry about pollination. All of these varieties are easy to grow in most situations and should reward you with good crops of home-grown fruit.
You could add another pear or another cherry in place of (or as well as) the damson.
If you choose the medium/large sizes for each variety you will need a space of approximately 16m by 12m for this collection. (That is roughly 4 saloon cars parked nose to tail on one axis, and 3 in the other axis).
If you would like any advice on this collection or adjusting it suit your particular requirements please call us or use our enquiry form.
Here is a collection of apple varieties often found in supermarkets, which you can try growing at home. It is worth remembering that most supermarket apple varieties are designed for warm dry climates, so growing them in a temperate climate like the UK is more of a challenge. However if you can provide the right conditions, preferably a sunny south-facing sheltered location, you should be successful. All these varieties are late season and benefit from a long ripening period.
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.
Growing your own apple trees automatically gives you a head-start over shop-bought apples because you can pick your apples at exactly the right time to maximise their flavour - and most early and mid-season varieties are at their best when eaten straight from the tree.
Flavour is by no means the only quality to look at when choosing apple trees for your garden or community orchard, but for many gardeners it is, rightly, one of the main considerations. Although flavour is clearly very subjective, it is usually the case that the best apples have complex multi-dimensional flavours, rather than being simply sweet. In fact a degree of sharpness is often the hallmark of a good eating apple - the acidity is needed to balance and bring out the sweetness inherent in ripe apples.
Fortunately by an accident of climate and history, much of the United Kingdom is very well suited to growing apple varieties for maximum flavour. As a result some English apple varieties have evolved to offer the most complex flavours in the apple kingdom.
Many of these varieties arose during the Victorian era, a period of tremendous development in the cultivation of the English eating apple. These same varieties subsequently formed the starting point for renewed public interest in apples towards the end of the 20th century, with a new generation of apple growers consciously going back to the Victorian classics for inspiration, and as a starting point for the development of new varieties. As a result flavour is no longer the exclusive preserve of the old heritage varieties - some of the new varieties can genuinely rank alongside them.
There is no doubt that Cox's Orange Pippin is the premier English apple when it comes to flavour. In a good year from a good tree this variety goes beyond all others in the rich complexity of its aromatic flavours and has become the benchmark for apples around the world. However it is not the most reliable of apple varieties and is therefore best grown as a second or third tree in a collection, rather than being your only apple tree. There are now many other varieties to choose from if excellence of flavour is your main criteria - often descended from Cox's Orange Pippin but easier to grow. Comparing and contrasting the flavours of different but related apple varieties is one of the real pleasures of growing your own apple trees.
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.
For a perfect Valentine's Day gift why not give the special person in your life a present that will last a lifetime and provide enjoyment throughout the whole year. An appropriately named fruit tree will not only convey the sentiments you want but will also have beautiful blossom in spring and wonderful fruit in summer and autumn. Choose from any of those we have in stock or alternatively buy a gift certificate for your loved one to select the tree of their own choice. Either way you will be giving a lasting sentiment that will continue to grow over the years to come.