The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is a long-standing UK organisation with an international reputation which seeks to promote good gardening in all its aspects.
The RHS Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM) is an award which can be made to any plant or tree - including fruiting trees - by the relevant committee of the RHS. The RHS publishes the selection criteria on its website, but in essence the award attempts to identify varieties which are easy to grow and provide practical value to the gardener.
If you are new to fruit trees then varieties with the AGM might be a good place to start.
What about trees that don't have the RHS AGM?
The purpose of the AGM is to help gardeners who feel overwhelmed by the range of plants and trees available, by providing a shortlist of varieties that are likely to perfom well in most situations. It is intended to be wide-ranging, covering all kinds of plants and trees - fruit trees are but one of numerous categories covered by the AGM.
As fruit tree specialists we carry many of the varieties which have received the RHS AGM ... but we also offer other varieties which are unlikely to ever receive the AGM, but which in our opinion have their own excellent qualities which make them of interest to fruit tree enthusiasts. Many of the best fruit tree varieties have quirks that exclude them from the RHS AGM but will still reward the gardener with superb fruit, and the RHS AGM should be seen as just one of many factors that will help influence your choice of fruit trees.
All our varieties are identified with a "Gardening skill" attribute which is our own assessment of how easy or difficult a particular variety might be to grow in the garden or backyard or small orchard situation.
Remember that as with any award there is plenty of interesting debate to be had over the varieties that are included or excluded ... Some of the more surprising inclusions in our opinion are:
- Apple - Ribston Pippin. Good flavour, but quite disease prone and being a triploid variety is not as straightforward to grow as the AGM implies.
- Apple - Royal Gala. An excellent variety for gardeners in warmer drier parts of the UK, but not a good choice for northern or wetter areas - again not really consistent with the qualities the AGM promotes.
- Pear - Doyenne du Comice. Superb flavour but not as easy to grow as some of the other pear varieties that have received the AGM.
If you have any comments on the AGM varieties let us know. Although we have highlighted some inconsistencies, there is no doubt that the AGM varieties are good choices for both the new fruit grower and the fruit enthusiast.
Is the RHS AGM applicable to gardeners outside the UK?
Whilst the RHS is a UK-based organisation, the varieties which have received the AGM are likely to be useful for gardeners in Europe and North America. The AGM is not limited to fruit trees of UK origin, but the selection of varieties does have a UK orientation.